Writing by Nick Stamoulis in SEO
There’s a lot that goes into a website redesign and many reasons to do it. A business website redesign may be necessary in order to keep the site looking “fresh” or if the company has undergone a large rebranding effort. There’s certainly nothing wrong with wanting to change your website, but there is one important thing to keep in mind from an SEO perspective- don’t forget the 301 redirect!
In some cases, it may be possible to maintain the URL structure of a new website, but if the content is changing it often makes sense to change the URL along with it. This is where the 301 redirect comes into play. It tells the search engines that the old page has been moved to a new URL and no longer exists. The 301 redirect also sends a website visitor to the new page automatically.
A huge search engine ranking factor is trust. The search engines favor websites that are aged and have relevant inbound links pointing to it. Without implementing the 301 redirect from an old page to the new page, to the search engines the new page is brand new, when in fact, it isn’t. A page that is considered to be brand new will basically be starting over, whereas a 301 redirect can maintain some of the power and credibility of the old page. A 301 redirect may not pass all of a web page’s link power to the new page, but it’s the best way to try and maintain as much power as possible.
It happens all too often. A website owner thinks that they are doing something great by redesigning their website and think that it will result in increased sales and leads. Then they notice that instead, the opposite has happened. Their website traffic has dropped off drastically after launching the new site. This is because they didn’t implement the 301 redirect. All of the internal pages of the site are now “new” and it’s like starting over.
Don’t let this happen to you! If you are considering a website redesign and need to change the URLs, be sure to implement the 301 redirect. You will likely still see a slip in traffic initially, but it won’t be as severe and it will rebound much faster than if the 301 redirect wasn’t implemented. Normal traffic should reappear within 1-4 months.