301 Redirects for SEO
Redirects are a technical tool used for URL’s that have changed. This could be because a website has moved to a new domain or because an existing URL has changed. It tells the search engines that the old URL that has been entered is now updated and provides the new URL thereby redirecting to the current page.
When a website has been updated or even more dramatically changed in the example of a complete redesign and development, redirects are often times on the itemized list of tasks to be completed. Like any list, often times items are missed or skipped. If you are in the process of revamping your website, this is one of the most important things with regard to SEO that you can possibly do to maintain and even improve your search engine results.
Let’s use a fictitious domain as an example. Lets say you have had domain.com for many years and decided it is time to refresh the look. You rely on this website to bring traffic and ultimately sales from those that arrive and want to make purchases.
One of the most popular pages on your site is http://domain.com/socks.html
Now notice that there is that extra .html at the end of the URL. Most websites nowadays have done away with this addition for SEO reasons. In doing so, the new website that is launched may have a new permalink structure. There are technical ways to describe this, but for the matter at hand it pertains to the stuff that comes after the .com portion of the URL.
Since the new website should be optimized, your new URL for this page could possibly end up as domain.com/wool-socks. Now Google and the other search engines have already indexed and categorized the previous URL, so when you change the structure, in essence, the Search Engines see that the page is gone. When this happens the index of the page is removed and all of the history of that page is removed from Google’s algorithm.
Most importantly, any of the links that were built to this page are now broken as well. This is what often times happens when new websites are launched. When a single page is changed or an entire website structure is reformatted, redirects are critical in maintaining the SEO strength of the site. When a redirect is done correctly, it is basically telling search engines, “hey Google, that old page is over here now”.
By redirecting a page or an entire domain, you are making it easier and less confusing for search engines and will rewarded by preserving all of the SEO value your team has worked so hard to build.