When redesigning a website or moving it to a new domain, the proper network of redirects is essential. Without redirects, search engines won’t know that pages have moved, which can negatively affect organic search visibility; if a search engine thinks a page has disappeared entirely, it could be purged from the index. Implementing redirects ensures that search engines recognize moved page URLs and send visitors to the right places when they click on links in search results.
What is a 301 Redirect?
A 301 redirect indicates that a page has permanently moved to a new location. When done right, it serves as a “change of address” from the original URL to a URL on a new domain, server or platform. Without a permanent redirect, users and search engine bots will receive a “404 page not found” error when following outdated links. This can spell disaster for search rankings since new pages won’t inherit the link equity of old ones unless properly associated with the original content. 301 redirects are one of the essentials for properly launching your website redesign from an SEO perspective.
Potential Impact on SEO
Properly handled 301 redirects will preserve around 85 percent of the original link equity of a page. However, this can still translate to an initial drop in search engine rankings after moving or redesigning a site.
One of the biggest potential pitfalls to successful redirecting is the page’s content. Content on new pages must be relevant to the content on the original page in order to maintain link equity. This can be a particularly important consideration for businesses changing their product offerings, as some redirects may need to point from pages with items that no longer exist to new pages for similar items.
Using Redirects Effectively
The goal of a successful redirect strategy is to maintain link equity and preserve the experience of the original site. This requires careful attention to detail and the creation of a concrete plan before migrating the site to its new location.
Making a “map” of redirects to be implemented is the best way to keep track of how old and new pages relate and where each new URL will point. Excel is a good tool for this, as it allows for the creation of multiple columns of information that can be searched, filtered and updated as necessary. Identifying pages with similar URLs helps determine how many individual redirects are needed and what can be redirected to a single page of relevant content on the new site.
For large and complex sites, redirecting each URL individually may be impractical. In that case, webmasters need to take a look at analytics, inbound links and internal link structures to determine which pages should be top priority for redirects. The higher the link authority of a page, the more important it is to create a permanent redirect to preserve its influence on a site’s search engine rankings.
When implemented correctly, 301 redirects preserve the integrity of a site’s link structure and ensure that each page maintains its standings in search engine results. Redirects create a seamless transition between the old site and the new, allowing both search engines and visitors to access the new site without a hassle.
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