Building a Site: Consider Creating a List of Redirects

If you’re planning on redesigning, rebranding, or restructuring your site, you’ll need to generate a strong SEO website migration strategy. In addition to crawling the website and copying all your analytics, creating a list of redirects is an essential step.

Without a redirect map, you put the entire website and business at risk. Some companies lost up to 60% of Google traffic due to the wrong implementation of redirects. So, if you want to avoid potentially going out of business, you have to make sure your site migration checklist includes redirect mapping.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss redirects in greater detail and explain how to create a redirect map easily.

What Are Redirects?

Generally, a redirect represents a way of sending the website’s visitors to a live URL when the page they previously requested to open has been removed. A redirect sends a quick message to the visitor’s browser, informing it that the initial page isn’t at the same URL. That way, a browser can take the visitor to a new page.

Implementing redirects becomes especially handy when you’re auditing the website’s URLs, and you find old and messy-looking ones that you want to clear up. That’s when you should use a redirect and take readers to a better-looking page.

Of course, depending on your website’s needs, you may need to use a different redirect type.

Types of Redirects

In the world of redirect mapping, there are usually three most common redirect types people use — 310, 302, and Meta Refresh. In the next couple of paragraphs, we’ll talk more about each type and explain what it does.

301

The 301 or mover permanently is a redirect that sends the entire link equity to a new URL. This redirect is preferable for both the search engine and users. In most cases, the 301 is the best way to implement page redirects.

Even though it’s called a permanent redirect, you can reverse it. However, it’s not recommended because it can cause serious problems that could harm your website’s performance and ranking.

302

The 302 redirect is mostly used when the URL change is temporary. The search engine crawlers might treat it similarly to a 301 redirect. However, if this change isn’t long-term, then using 302 can be a good solution. In any other case, we’d recommend sticking to the classic 301 redirect.

Meta Refresh

A meta refresh is a temporary redirect executed on a page rather than on the server level. However, they are slower and pass less link juice (equity), which is why SEO experts rarely recommend them.

Why Are Redirects Important for SEO?

We’ve already mentioned a couple of times that the 301 redirects are important for SEO. We will explain now why. More often than not, redirects can be the main difference between a bad and successful website migration.

Here are some of the ways they influence SEO:

  • Redirects improve the URL structure. — They allow you to create a more neat URL structure, making it better for search, usability, and accessibility.
  • They keep your visitors engaged in the website. — If a visitor clicks on your page and sees a 404 error message, it will negatively influence their experience, which will lead them to leave your website.
  • They prevent traffic loss. — Search engines will boost high-quality pages, which implies having a live URL, not 404 pages. If your visitors keep landing on a 404 page, you’ll notice a significant drop in organic traffic. Having 301 redirects will help stop traffic loss and create a smoother transition while waiting for the crawlers to index your website.
  • Redirects pass link juice. — The 301 redirect is highly recommended in all cases, mainly due to its power to transfer 90% of the link equity to the new URL, allowing your website to avoid a noticeable decrease in ranking.

What Happens When a Redirect Isn’t Properly Implemented?

If a redirect isn’t implemented the right way, the consequences can be severe. As mentioned, an incorrect redirect can lead users to a 404 or an irrelevant page they didn’t intend to visit. In any case, this can affect the website’s bounce and conversion rates.

Additionally, the search engines wouldn’t be able to make a connection between that URL and the previous one, resulting in a drastic ranking drop. This would further lead to reduced visibility and traffic. Finally, the crawlers or spiders will take much longer to index all the pages, which is never good for SEO.

How to Create a Redirect Map?

If you’ve reached a point in your website redesign or restructure where you need to list all the URLs and migrate them, it’s time to create a map. Of course, before making a map, you need to ensure all the redirect URLs are constructed.

Having done that, you can start drafting the map. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Gather the new and existing URLs — Generate a list of all the old URLs you want to revamp and the new ones you’ll use as redirects.
  2. Compare them — Compare the two lists side-by-side using a spreadsheet.
  3. Map them — Match the old URLs with the corresponding new ones. If the website doesn’t have many pages, you can do it manually. However, platforms with thousands of them will require an automated process.
  4. Hand them off for implementation — Once you’ve matched all of the pages and completed a redirect map, you can send it off to the developers for implementation.
  5. Test the redirects — Finally, before going live, it’s vital to test each redirect and ensure it functions properly.

Final Thoughts

The entire process of creating a list of URLs and redirecting them to the new ones is time-consuming, but it is vital in website migration. While many people fear and avoid redesigning or migrating their websites due to the effect on SEO, long-term, it’s a valuable undertaking that can help grow your brand and increase its visibility.

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