I am about to greatly change the order and add / remove categories for an already existing Magento webshop. Does this have any great side effects?

For example

  1. Will it mess up the Google ranking / SEO? Magento fixes automatically the redirections, right?

  2. All the products, do they need to be manually re-assigned into the categories again?

  3. Any other side effects?

  1. I'm not an SEO expert so I cannot answer your first question. I can only speculate that you will get some dead links, but you can overcome this by adding redirects from old categories to new ones using the URL management section. It's not hard but it's time consuming.
  2. no, your products will remain in their original categories. Of course if you add new ones you have to assign their products and if remove categories some products might end up without categories. but if you just move categories around and your rename them, the products are going to remain attached to those categories. Just make sure you rebuild the indexes when you are done.
  3. If you already have a solid group of customers any change to your store might lead to a temporary drop in your conversion rate.

If you decide to go on with your approach, make sure you set all the indexes on manual update before starting and put them back on auto update when you are done. This will speed up your process because your indexes will not be rebuild after every category move.
The side-effect of this would be that while you do the changes they won't reflect real time on your website. They will be seen once your rebuild your indexes.

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