27 Oct 2022
Redirecting URLs is an important step when creating a website or blog. Learn why and how to do it right!
So, you have a brand-new website in the works, your design is looking incredible, development is going smoothly, and it’s time to go live! A few weeks roll by, and your organic traffic keeps dropping with no signs of recovery. Why is that we hear you ask?!?
It is quite possibly because there was never a redirect strategy in place……
What Are Redirects?
It’s a way of telling search engines about changes to your website, telling them that URL A is now URL B.
Redirects are commonly used to:
- Tell search engines about your preferred version of the website (i.e., HTTPS protocols vs HTTP and www. Vs non-www. URLs), no matter which one you go to, you get redirected to the right version of the website.
- Avoid duplicates by redirecting URLs with a trailing slash to URLs with no trailing slash (reachstudios.co.uk/blog/ goes to reachstudios.co.uk/blog)
- Redirect an uppercase URL to a lowercase URL (reachstudios.co.uk/BLOG goes to reachstudios.co.uk/blog), as URLs are case-sensitive.
And, there’s the important aspect this post focuses on, addressing the changes to the architecture and content of your website, such as during a redesign.
Why Redirects are Crucial
Without redirects, you’re putting your organic search rankings and general user experience at risk.
From a search engine perspective, suddenly all (or most of) the URLs are broken, therefore your pages don’t answer the search queries they once did. In this case, your website can no longer rank for those, so you lose the rankings you have built up over the years. Even if you have a corresponding page on the new website, it will take time to build back the rankings, as you’re starting from scratch.
All backlinks from other websites to your website are also now going to become dead links, probably lots of them! This impacts the authority of your domain, and in turn, your search engine rankings, your website Is no longer a reliable source for his information.
Lastly, think of the frustrated users who clicked a link only to go to a link or page that doesn’t exist anymore. There’s a high possibility they will leave your website, and you could lose out on potential customers. It’s bad on all accounts.
How It’s Done
As explained above, starting to think about a redirect strategy at the very last moment isn’t a wise idea. We recommend starting at the very beginning of the website redesign project.
Things to consider:
- Audit of Existing Website: Start with seeing what works and what doesn’t address areas of improvement on the new site.
- Content and Website Architecture: What is the current structure vs the planned one, carefully consider the pages you think should be removed (if any).
- User Experience (UX): Changes in the navigation, categorisation, internal linking etc; think about how pages are grouped and how quickly users can get to the relevant content.
- Keyword Rankings: Check what pages rank for valuable keywords and work on maintaining them, website redesign is a good opportunity to think about future opportunities and have the right set-up to work towards those goals. Think long-term and map out your keywords and the new site.
- Page Authority & Backlinks: Learn what the most reputable pages are, with quality backlinks from other reputable sites.
- Traffic Volume: Ensure high-traffic pages exist on the new website.
Main Redirect Types
301s and 302s are the most used redirect types. Here’s what they do, in a nutshell:
301: A permanent redirect that passes the authority to the new URK, the main type of redirect regarding website migrations.
302: A temporary redirect that allows you to keep the old URL indexed even though it is redirected (unless it’s left in place for too long, then it gets treated as a 301), the equity isn’t passed on the new page, as it just supposed to be temporary.
If you are curious about other redirect types, head over and read this overview on Google Search Central.
Wrapping It Up
Considering the redirect strategy is key from the get go of any website redesign project. Make sure to give the team you are working with enough time to allow for design and dev changes where needed.
If you decide to work with an agency, then be sure to discuss their capabilities before starting your partnership.
We can take care of it all for you, from initial website design to a comprehensive redirect strategy.
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