Google Recommends Keeping The Same URLs Whenever Possible
Every few years most clients deem it necessary to redesign their website. This can be due to Google and SEO requirements, such as creating a mobile friendly site, or because the backend CMS is being changed or updated. There is always a lot to check throughout the process and we make clients aware that a small drop in traffic and exposure in the search engines is normal and can be managed. Altering the address of webpages is one of the many things that adds complexity to a redesign.
Following an online discussion on July 22nd, Google’s John Mueller reiterated on Twitter: “I’d really recommend keeping the same URLs for the long run.”
Whilst there is a whole community based around deciphering Google’s often cryptic communications and counter-intuitive suggestions, sometimes we receive a rare gem that is clear, simple and unambiguous. This is one of those cases. Google has become much more sophisticated with crawling and indexing URLs, and provides guidelines on using 301 redirects, canonical tags and other techniques for managing complex changing websites; but the bottom-line is that nothing beats simply retaining the same URLs if at all possible. It makes good sense as its cleaner and tidier for search engines.
There will always be cases where you need to change URL structure, such as consolidating multiple redundant pages into one page, improving long URLs by shortening them or replacing irrelevant letters and numbers with relevant keywords, or when changing developers and content management systems. However if you can keep your main URLs the same as they were (as long as they’re not terrible), then do it!