[guest post by Garrett Perks]
Sometimes this is done to improve SEO, or sometimes just to make the links more human-friendly. It can be important to do this – but this change can cost you precious traffic!
If your users follow one of the old URL’s from the previous version of the site (maybe they have a saved link, a link from another website, a browser bookmark, or an old social share, etc.) they won’t get the content they expect. Instead they’ll get a 404 error. And likely leave.
An HTTP 404 error is a common one. It simply means the URL is not available or nothing is there. This error usually occurs when webpages are moved, have their URL changed or are taken down. Thankfully, the common problem has a simple solution – a 301 redirect. It’s essential that if you or your web developer changes the URL’s of your pages for any reason, that the change be followed by adding appropriate 301 redirects.
How 301 Redirects Work
A 301 redirect is a simple notification for browsers that permanently redirects old or broken URLs to their new location. If a website has a 301 redirect, it means that when you enter the old/bad URL, your browser will automatically take you straight to the new/correct webpage. Handy, right? But it is also critically important – it will make sure that when updating your website or launching a new one you won’t lose all your hard-earned traffic.
Why Use the 301?
By using the 301 redirect, your website retains traffic that it would otherwise lose. People are lazy and you want to make it as easy as possible for them to access your site. Not to mention, this is a simple last step in launching and updating your website. It should never be overlooked when you’re making an update to a single page or to an entire site!
Have you ever lost a large amount of traffic after a major website update or a launch of a new site? It’s likely this is the cause. Eventually Google will index your new content and begin to restore your traffic. But you can save yourself a lot of headache and lost revenue by ensuring proper 301 redirects are in place and no dropoff in traffic ever occurs when your updated website launches.
** About the author: Garrett Perks is the Founder & Creative Director of EvenVision | Digital Marketing Experts, a marketing agency that helps clients build creative digital strategies to achieve their goals.