Changing Old Code To CSS Killed One Webmaster's Google Rankings

Jul 9, 2010 • 7:58 am | comments (16) by | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

A featured WebmasterWorld thread has one webmaster who said his 13 year old well ranking web site was updated to use the latest CSS and coding techniques. The page content, titles, meta information was not touched, only the way the page renders, by using the latest CSS techniques to reduce page load time and page redenering. He said, immediately after the site went live, his rankings for keywords he ranked well for since the site was first launched 13 years ago - have vanished.

Let me quote what he said:

13 year old site. Using 13 year old code.

I decided to modernize using the cleanest of standards. I'm using the STRICT doctype (minimal errors upon validation) ... pure CSS, one stylesheet controlling everything which is minified... all pages compressed with gzip. No header information was changed... same titles, same meta. Basically I know what I'm doing.

I effectively took my average page size from 80k to 20k (before gzip compression) and the site is lightning quick. Visitors have been super happy with the improvement.

Every visitor but googlebot apparently.

The DAY after I rolled this major revision out, I began losing my major keywords. Every keyword was top 10, now I'm gone... not in supplementals - nowhere. Keywords dropped over the last 3 days... today there isn't much left.

He posted that on June 27th and today, two weeks later, there has been no improvement.

Now, if the URLs, title, content and everything else stayed the same and the only thing you updated was how the page source code is implemented, a ranking change should not been seen. I have to suspect that this webmaster is missing something, but he is confident he is not.

Tedster, WebmasterWorld's administrator said:

I've been involved in hundreds of redesigns over the years, some with content changes and some with only mark-up changes. I never ran into this problem.

I know flicky is reporting a big problem, and I'm not trying to diminish its devastating impact on his business. But I am cautioning against making generalizations based on this.

Have you experienced this? I just find it hard to believe that there are not other factors involved here.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

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