More threads by JohnMarathonAir

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The short answer - yes.

When you change themes, things are going to be shifted around. Content might be moved further down the page, different class names will be used in code and information is going to be presented differently, both on mobile and desktop. All of this is usually a good thing! After all, a store does not just revamp and reorganize things just for the sake of it, there's usually a purpose.

Will things change? Yes. But with your new enhancements, it should be a positive change. Don't forget your 301 redirects, Schema, sitemaps and alt tags on images.

I've always associated GMB and Websites as a two way street. One can affect the other, whether that's user experience or content.
 
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The short answer - yes.

When you change themes, things are going to be shifted around. Content might be moved further down the page, different class names will be used in code and information is going to be presented differently, both on mobile and desktop. All of this is usually a good thing! After all, a store does not just revamp and reorganize things just for the sake of it, there's usually a purpose.

Will things change? Yes. But with your new enhancements, it should be a positive change. Don't forget your 301 redirects, Schema, sitemaps and alt tags on images.

I've always associated GMB and Websites as a two way street. One can affect the other, whether that's user experience or content.

Thank you. Do you mind my asking, how often have you or your team changed themes? And did your customers usually lose local rank (and, if so, did they gain it back and how long did that take)?

The purpose is user experience. We have an old theme. Modern themes look much better and would be a better user experience. I realize conversion is an issue. But we also have a good rank that we don't want to lose. Is that possible?

We get decent conversion now. We don't want to lose those people. But we think it could be better.

Or do you think most people with an older theme just continue until something breaks and they have no choice?
 
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Or do you think most people with an older theme just continue until something breaks and they have no choice?
This is more often the case - it's the "not broken, don't fix it" mentality. And for the most part, I'm all for that too. But if there's something to be gained (more conversions, better explanations, better layout), then with planning, these are perfectly good reasons to change themes.

Thank you. Do you mind my asking, how often have you or your team changed themes? And did your customers usually lose local rank (and, if so, did they gain it back and how long did that take)?
We only work in the WordPress platform - and all our clients are WordPress clients. Sometimes that means converting someone from a different platform to WordPress and the layout is nearly identical to what they left, but the client just needed to make updates easier or wanted custom WooCommerce etc. So while the code on the site has changed, the frontend layout may look very similar. In those cases, it's done for optimization and ease of updates by the client.

Others are existing WordPress users that want a revamp of the layout, but the blog posts etc would remain the same. Content on the pages would be restructured and optimized. In as many cases as possible, we try to limit how much content we remove or change. Adding new content is fine, but removing is something we pay very close attention to.

In terms of structural changes due to a theme, and not just seasonal changes (colors, images etc), it can be years before a full restructuring happens - and that's a good thing. These are Service Area Businesses that they're not needing to have a fresh new look every time someone visits. As long as it does the job, they don't change it and just make sure plugins etc are up to date.

Customers, for the most part, wouldn't lose rankings that they weren't prepared to lose. Sometimes we're purposely dropping ranking on terms that don't actually apply to them. We worked with a pest control company that ranked really well for critters (skunks, possums, raccoons etc), but they don't actually provide that service, they are more focused on pests (ants, bugs, wasps, etc). So restructuring content to remove "critters" and adding "pests" did result in a drop in traffic and calls, but it was a drop for something they didn't service.

Reviewing rankings and traffic with what the new terms and targets are is important, rather than just saying "we lost 500 visitors last month" you need to review what the traffic was.

On the other side of things is when Google decides that "X" page is better than "Y" page, so it drops the rankings for one and increases the rankings on the other. Usually it's not a drop for an extended period of time, just while everyone figures out what the best page is to be in the listings. Where the "big drop" can come into play is when the content is completely rewritten. Old terms that existed may no longer be as prominent and as such, they lose their ranking positions. Maybe the phrase is only on the new content once in a paragraph whereas on the old content is was listed several times and was in headings and image tags etc. That's where we see sites drop rankings more than not. And that then ties into GMB, the services listed, the links to and from etc.

Backups are your friend. If you notice a big drop and its sustained for several weeks, then you could restore a backup, or make changes to the new site. Any time we do a site overhaul, we pull a backup of the old site, set it on one of our development servers and lock access so nobody can get to it. We still keep it "live" so we can see things that way we can adjust and compare things as changes are continued to be made to the new theme.
 

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