I have a photobooth company that searches very well in my region. It's on a very old Joomla platform and I would like to update it. Do I risk losing my high search ranking by doing so?
No, re-designing it would actually help it because it's showing Google that you're updating your content and prividing a better experience for the user - assuming that your re-design is actually a great design. I would recommend using WordPress. It's similar to Joomla, but much better and you'll find more design options. WordPress has a lot of great themes (templates). As long as you're not deleting content and pages - then you're rankings will be fine. Just make sure you do it within a few days time. You don't want a website in progress for a month. But the link juice flows to the domain, so you're fine.
Disagree with Charles that Wordpress is 'much better' and that you'll find more design options, mostly because both are not true. Joomla is good for some things while Wordpress is good for others. Design wise, they're equal and don't let anyone tell you different. Just look at the theme providers for both.
However, Wordpress is easier to use. My 9 year old son has set up a Wordpress site and he liked it, but went back to Blogger. As Wordpress is easier, that also means Joomla is more complicated but at the exact same time, Drupal is even more complicated and Drupal beats both overall (although probably not for SEO but that mostly comes down to the extensions you can install for Wordpress and Joomla).
And if you're using an old version of Joomla, I'd guess 1.0 or 1.5, then the easiest thing for you to do would be to stick with Joomla but don't just migrate, first there are things to consider.
First, juice doesn't 'just' go to the domain, it goes throughout your site and each page will have some, so if you're moving platform or changing URL structure make sure and this is the most important part, that Google knows.
You can do this in a number of ways (there are extensions on the Joomle Extensions Directory to help) but the safest way would be to add some 301 redirects into your .htaccess file of your new site so when Google looks for the the URL and it ends up somewhere else, after following the redirect and seeing that it's a 301 (permanent) and accepts the new link as the right one, your juice follows with it.
There are also tools at Google Webmaster to help you know if anything is going wrong.
But it's also worth looking into where your juice is coming from and where it's going on your site. If the vast majority of it is going to your homepage then it might not be so critical on what platform you use (although I'd stick with Joomla), but just remember to do the 301 redirects so Google knows where the new pages are. And also go responsive (Google likes responsive design) and make sure your site is as fast as possible, as Google likes speed too.
Good luck ..
I help companies manage projects. I'm working with one client right now who is conducting a redesign of their own so I'm a good fit to answer this question.
The term "redesign" has become ambiguous and your intention by the term will affect the answer to your question.
Are you simply redesigning the layout? Are you redesigning the navigation? The site structure? Are you writing brand new text? Are you keeping the same web pages and URLs?
When you say "ground up", I interpret it as all of the above, at the very minimum.
To answer your question:
The short answer is, if done right, no. Your search ranking will not be affected by the redesign and you will continue to enjoy business success.
The long answer is, probably. There exist so many points of failure with website redesigns "from the ground up" that the likelihood is high that somebody with limited exposure to redesigning websites will make mistakes that result in traffic loss.
Case in point:
My client is a charity. It has offices around the world, each with their own website. I'm managing the redesign of the Canadian office's website from the "ground up". I was not involved in the UK or Kenya office redesigns and their results were troubling to us in the Canadian office.
The UK office lost 60% of its traffic following its "ground up" redesign. The Kenya office, managed slightly better, lost 40% of its traffic. I'm projecting the Canadian office will lose 10% of our traffic, and that's following best practices. (I admit, I'm setting low expectations for us. I actually think we'll continue to experience traffic growth at about 20% year over year but I'm a believer in under-promising and over-delivering).
This traffic loss for the UK and Kenya websites has probably impacted the bottom line--the UK and Kenya offices both appear to have less traffic to their Donate page (although I don't have specific dollar-values to support that statement).
If your business lives and dies on the success of your business, call an expert. At the very least, get in touch with me so that I can send you some Excel spreadsheets, templates, and other documents you'll find useful if you choose to do it yourself. If your website is mission-critical, the redesign is not the time to be frugal.
Hope it helps.
Partner, Bansal & Power
It can happen if you are changing URL's , I would recommended if you are changing url's then make a list of all Url's of your website for that you could use scream frog and 301 redirect old url's to new.
Redesigning a site won't affect your ranking in the search engine results pages (SERPs) if you do the following:
1) Keep the same domain name.
2) Use 301 redirects to your new pages if you have renamed them or added content. (Example: your old page was at "www.example.com/what-we-do" and your new one is "www.example.com/services".)
To do a 301 redirect on a Linux server you need to edit your .htaccess file in the root directory where you site is hosted. The simplest redirects, just pointing an old page to a new one, look like this:
"Redirect 301 /oldfile.html /newfile.html"
(with no quotes and one redirect per line)
It is likely that you'll forget a few steps if you haven't done it before and if you don't have a solid website redesign SEO checklist.
If you miss out on a few critical things after you launch the redesign, these will harm the rankings:
-Forgetting to update robots.txt if you disallow search engines
-Forgetting to remove the noindex for pages you DO want in the index
-Not redirecting your important pages if you change URLs
-Letting important pages accidentally 404
-Not looking at all the elements helping important pages rank before making drastic changes
There's probably 50-100 items to check off if you're managing an important redesign for an important site.
If your site doesn't bring in much search traffic and you've got nothing to lose, then the risk is much smaller.
If your site is critical to your business, and you're making tons of changes, then there are some big risks there, so do some research or hire an expert to get it right!
Feel free to ping me or request a call if you have any follow-up questions, as I've done about 20 of these and so I have a huge checklist of my own to manage this process.
I agree with the above answers that re-designing will instead help and not harm. However just take care of one thing:
And that is: None of the url's should get tampered when you change. Because it's these url's that have the backlinks. If from those backlinks there's a 404 error, you will lose a lot of SEO.
Not the designing in terms of the pages within the site and url. The site map should stay in tact.