Think before you Move that page – 301 Redirects Explained

As a website owner, there may well come a time when you want to reorganise pages or sections within the site. Since many modern websites and ecommerce sites are built around Content Management Systems this is a relatively easy task and in many cases, one you can do yourself.

What you need to be mindful of however is the fact that your website will have been crawled by search engine robots and its pages indexed accordingly. These pages will have a rank in the search engine results and could well be driving quality traffic and visitors to your site. Providing these visitors find what they are looking for then a conversion will be made and you will make money.

Moving these pages without planning ahead will likely result in one of two scenarios:

  1. Your website may still show up in the search engine rankings but when viewed, return a 404 page not found error (because you have moved the page and it can no longer be found).
  2. Your rankings for those pages may disappear completely from the search engines, which means potentially missing out on business.

Although turbulence within the results is inevitable, to help cause minimal disruption to your website rankings, planning ahead can make all the difference. Here are our tips on what to do before moving that page…

301 Redirects

  • Ensure that a 301 redirect is issued for any page/section that is going to be moved. This means that should a visitor arrive at the old page, they will be automatically taken to the new version.

Custom 404s

  • If it is not possible to issue 301s for every page that has been moved then creating a custom 404 page that gives the visitor an option to find the correct page may be an alternative.

Inbound Links

  • Other external websites may have placed links to pages that you are preparing to move. In these situations, it is best wherever possible to contact those websites and ask them to update their links accordingly.

Internal Links

  • Similarly, any internal links within your site that point to pages being moved should also be updated to minimise the issuing of a 404 page. Creating an up to date sitemap may also help ensure that the newly organised pages are indexed correctly.

If you are considering re-ordering the pages of your website why not get in touch. We can discuss what steps to take, how to take them and can even do the hard work for you. Give us a call on 0845 519 4727 and find out how we can help.