Recently I changed the theme on this blog, and in the last post I talked about how much work it was. It took a lot of planning and preparation, and believe it or not it’s still not completely done! It’s kind of like remodeling part of your house, once you get things moved around you find other things you’ve neglected over time that you need to take care of. Move your furniture and you find lots of things you haven’t seen in a long time. Next thing you know your washing the drapes and painting the walls. I found a need to create some new graphics for certain pages to blend better with the theme, and I had to completely re-organize the category structure for my posts (something I should have done a long time ago).

If you’ve been building a blog for a long time, then you’ve become established in the search engines and you’re probably used to a certain amount of search traffic coming in each and every day. What you may not have thought about is how minor adjustments could affect that. Google has evolved to the point where it can make almost instant adjustments to search rankings. Case and point – I had a client last week who had problems with his WordPress blog, all pages were displaying an error. Within 48 hours all his search engine listing were that error. That may seem pretty quick, but in fact I believe it happenned the first 24 hours. I fixed his entire web site 3 days after the error first took over his site, and now (a week later) the error (in google) is still the description for his home page listing in google.

In my case, I changed my entire theme, changed all my categories, and then I changed the SEO plugin I was using – and in turn changed the title of my blog and many of my blog pages. The next day my incoming searches dropped by nearly 80%. I decided to ride it out (for 4 days) and see if things improved, and they didn’t. So I switched back to my old blog title and old SEO plugin. Now 48 hours later, traffic is still down 80%. I lost the 8 additional listings under my main one in SERP’s, but my pagerank, Alexa ranking, backlinks – everything is the same.

So, let this be a lesson to both me and to you. Changing your theme can change your search engine listings, but more importantly making even the smallest change to your blog can affect search rankings. Changing tag or category structure, changing permalinks, changing SEO plugins, changing your blog title – all can DRAMATICALLY affect your search listings! My advice to you would be to avoid major changes all at once, do them one at a time so you know (if there is a problem) which change affected it. Also be aware that if any changes affected your Serps negatively, it may take google ten times longer to change back to your original listings. I don’t know why this is, but I’ve seen it time and time again in search results.

What have you done to affect your search rankings before?