Ask Yoast:

Changing URL structure and rankings

If you started your website as a newbie to all things internet, chances are that your site’s URLs aren’t pretty. Perhaps the URLs contain the post-ID, or the date when it was first published. Those aren’t SEO-friendly URLs: they don’t say much about the content of a page and look cluttered.

If you want to change your URL structure for this reason, or whatever other reason, it could affect your rankings. In this Ask Yoast, we’ll discuss to what extent changing your URL structure will have an impact on your rankings, and if it’s still worth the effort.

Chris asked us a question on this subject:

We are changing our URL structure to make it look cleaner (by leaving out numbers etc.). When we launch our new site, will this new URL structure negatively affect our existing Google rankings?

Watch the video or read the transcript for the answer!

The impact of changing your URL structure on rankings

Well, if you launch a new site and you have new URLs, you’ll need to redirect all the old URLs to the new URLs and it’ll take some time for Google to pick up that those URLs have changed. If you’re staying on the same domain name, your traffic will probably stay the same, but you will need to redirect all those URLs and it might take some time. 

You might lose some traffic for a while, up to even six months and then after that everything should be fine. It’s probably worth it if your URLs look really bad though, so it’s a trade-off but I’d probably still go for it. Good luck!

Read more: The perfect WordPress SEO permalink structure »

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14 Responses to Changing URL structure and rankings

  1. AnzarShopping
    AnzarShopping  • 7 years ago

    URL structure plays a vital role in getting high ranks for a website or blog as it is considered as an important on-site SEO factor that brings your we pages in top SERPs.

  2. Abdul
    Abdul  • 7 years ago

    Enabling breadcrumbs for search engines is good? or we have to remain on urls?

  3. Fakaza
    Fakaza  • 7 years ago

    i had issue with my url struture recently and this was because i changed it out-rightly without even setting up counter measures. i had a couple of not found errors on my search console. this greatly affected my ranking and i had to install a plugin to manually make all the needed redirects which was a pain in the ass but at the end it came out good for me.

    my advice: before changing your url struture, try doing it on a test site first or in a sandbox version of your site or the best option will be to install and activate the yoast premium plugin and it will handle it automatically and you wont need to worry about your rankings

  4. Sent flying
    Sent flying  • 7 years ago

    I find that larger sites recover pretty quickly, sometimes showing the updated urls in google within a fortnight, but smaller sites can take months to show the new urls unless you request a recrawl from google webmaster tools

  5. sourav mukherjee
    sourav mukherjee  • 7 years ago

    thank you for useful tips, changed the structure of my site and rank my site better position on google, thank you.

  6. Muhammad Ijaz
    Muhammad Ijaz  • 7 years ago

    My Site is about 2 months old.I do’t have much traffic. Will this affect my Site?

  7. Pooja
    Pooja  • 7 years ago

    Recently I Changed 4-5 Url’s of one of my site, but the old ones are still shown in the Google Search. Should I wait or Remove them from Webmasters Tool?

  8. desert safari deals
    desert safari deals  • 7 years ago

    i have changed the structure of my site to Https and got flooded Heavily with 404 links. but i dont want to redirect any of those.. will it post negative impact on my website ? reply plz thanks.

  9. LoveUMarketing
    LoveUMarketing  • 7 years ago

    I think, changing the URL Structure will definitely have the impact on the Ranking. No matter whether it will be small or big but it will have the impact on the ranking.

  10. Keen to Design
    Keen to Design  • 7 years ago

    While changing the URL structure, we need to be really careful in redirecting the old URL to the new one. As broken links negatively affect user experience and may worsen search engine rankings because crawlers might think that the site is poorly maintained. The Yoast premium plugin will automatically adjust URL changes while the free ones do not.

  11. Samba Siva
    Samba Siva  • 7 years ago

    Hey Yoast Seo team,

    I have changed the URL structure of my WordPress Site. Got many 404 errors. Finally redirected each and every link using 301 redirects. My question is, Does the link juice to my old pages pass to the new ones ?

  12. elvispresleynews
    elvispresleynews  • 7 years ago

    OK convetered to https and now lost all my traffic… Installed yoast SEO and now 2 weeks and no improvement… I do believe that something or someone is not working well enought… Offer me advise.. please

  13. Gary
    Gary  • 7 years ago

    Hi Joost, I have a few client sites that might need to be changed, but we will need to discuss it in detail first. Thanks for the tips. Good refresher


  14. Cory Digital
    Cory Digital  • 7 years ago

    Great blog post, i always use simple 301 redirects to sort this out. It is a very easy way to redirect your broken 404 links. This is something i had to do with my new site as it is a temporary theme template.

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