It seems like we’re always on the move. We move to new homes, to new cities, to new jobs — someday we might even move to a new planet! Whatever the situation, most of us do our best to ensure that others can easily find us after we’ve moved. We send out cards via the postal service, update our job on our social media platforms, and if we packed our bags and headed to Mars I’m sure we would send out an interplanetary alert — or at least shout it from the roof tops.
But what happens when you forget to let folks know that you moved? And what does that have to do with your website redesign project plan?
Well, just like you follow certain steps when you move so that everyone knows where to find you, you also need to take some specific steps when you move any of the pages on your website — or the website itself, for that matter. Failure to do so can result in the loss of the following: traffic to your site (which we all know can translate to losing customers), Search Engine Optimization (SEO) status, or authority with search engines.
WEBSITE REDIRECTS BY THE NUMBERS
The 404: When you move in a hurry
When you move in a hurry, you often leave things in disarray and forget to notify people of your whereabouts.
When you move your website in a rush, visitors to your site may experience the aftermath of the chaos in the form of a “404” or “Page Not Found” error. This is caused when a page is moved to a new URL and the old link hasn’t been directed to the new page — or when a page is taken offline all together. Unless you have a brilliantly designed 404 page like these guys (http://bluegg.co.uk/404), this is not the impression you want to make with your visitors.
The 301: Remembering to send a moving announcement
You’re all prepped for your move. You’ve made your list, checked it twice and are fully satisfied that this is a great choice for you. Now, be sure to send your moving announcements so that your friends can visit you at your new place.
You need to do this on your website, too. If you choose to move a page on your website — or move your entire site to a new URL, make certain that you use a permanent 301 Redirect — a method used to change an old URL to a new one. In addition to keeping visitors happy when navigating your website, permanent 301 redirects are also important for SEO. If a user can’t find a new page, neither can a search engine — so you’ll lose any SEO status that the old page once had. To keep the SEO juice flowing to new pages, set up a 301 redirect for pages that have been moved so that search engines can find them. This is particularly important when you have a page with a great deal of “link juice.” If you were to create a new page but not redirect the old one, you would lose the ranking power of your original page. However, when you create a 301 redirect, 90-99% of the “link juice” from the original page will pass to the new page.
The 302: A temporary move
Maybe you need to just move temporarily while you’re redesigning or updating your website?
That’s where a 302 redirect comes in. This is a temporary redirect that doesn’t pass any ranking power on to the new page. Most SEO experts (that includes us) will not recommend using a 302 redirect unless absolutely necessary. Instances where you might do this are when you are temporarily moving items on your website to perform repairs or updates, or when you don’t want to pass ranking power on to the new page.
And finally, the 411
Whether you’re physically moving or just moving to a new place on the interweb, make sure you are following steps needed to make your life — and your website customers’ lives — easier.
If you are looking for more information on developing your website redesign project plan, get started by downloading the complete e-book below.