What is a good design strategy to make an existing website accessible without running the risk of losing a good search engine ranking

I've been working on re-designing a website for a client and I'm trying to figure out the best approach for making my clients new website as responsive as possible, without jepordizing his good search engine rankings. The client wants to add a bunch of new content to the website as well as a few new pages. The current website uses transitional html and the new website is going to need some html5. I'm tempted to use a responsive framework like bootstrap for the new design but my concern is completely screwing up his good rankings when I launch the new website. Another thing that I'm trying to take into consideration is that the existing website is an old dreamweaver template. A lot of the markup and code kind of sucks for lack of a better term. It would be a lot easier for me to maintain completely fresh files. But again, I don't want to mess up his rankings. So would it be better to start fresh and hope for the best when I launch, Or would it be better to remove the content that he doesn't want, add the new content, and maybe add a couple of media queries? Or is there a better approach?


  1. It's the content that got him where they are in the rankings so as long as it remains you won't have much to worry about
  2. If the old HTML was poorly written, using more semantic HTML should help their rankings as it will give the search engines a better understanding of their content's weight and meaning. Using microformats would be a good thing as well.
  3. If you change URLs make sure to do 301 redirects so all of the links they've earned will be "passed" to their new URLs. Also submit an XML sitemap so the search engines are aware of the new URLs.
  4. Regardless of what you do when you make the change there will be a fluctuation in their rankings. This is normal. Be patient and wait at least two weeks before panicking if their rankings don't return.
  5. Make sure to monitor Google Webmaster Tools after making the change to see if any errors are reported after you make your switch (404 errors will occur if you change URLs and that's ok)
  6. Read this article: How to Turn Any Site Into a Responsive Site. It may make your life easier.