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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.