From time to time, you may come across a page with outdated content or content that isn’t well-optimised.
As a result, you may decide to optimise the page and the URL or remove the content.
In both cases, the URL of the page will have changed. Resulting in the need for a redirect.
Contrary to popular belief, search engines such as Google retain a copy of your website’s indexed paged in their index for search results. This means that removing or changing a URL leads to the search engine having the wrong address in search results and ultimately sending users to 404 error pages instead.
Redirects prevent this from happening and ensure the users are redirected to the most relevant content based on their search query.
Before you create a new page on your website, there are a few things you can ask yourself to ensure you are making the right decision:
Evergreen URLs are also an important part of the ‘creating new pages’ process… As a rule of thumb, we recommend avoiding dates and years in URLs, where possible. This will prevent you from having to remove or redirect pages frequently. For example, if you run a Christmas Campaign every year, rather than launching a new URL each year, i.e. www.reflectdigital.co.uk/christmas-2023, you can use www.reflectdigital.co.uk/christmas and simply update the content on the page each year, helping to retain SEO value year after year.
Before removing a page from your website, we should always assess what value the page has, either currently or historically.
Things to consider:
If you do find that the page in question delivers traffic to your site, you should ask whether you actually need to remove the page or whether it can be reworked/optimised. This way, you can keep receiving traffic but potentially add Calls To Action (CTAs) and internal linking to send the visitor to other sections of the website.
If you’ve decided it’s time to remove the content, then you’ll want to implement a 301 (or permanent redirect) to another relevant page. For best practice, you should:
Consider the following (in order) to decide where to point your redirect:
Review the source code to find where links to the page you’re removing appear and replace these with the alternative link. Locating these links manually can be a little difficult. However, this can be done either using a find-and-replace tool available on some platforms or using crawling software such as Screaming Frog.
Note: by not removing these links it can lead to several problems, such as:
Setup a redirect from the URL you’re removing the URL you decided on in step one. This will ensure all traffic is directed to the new page URL. This also ensures search engines transfer page-level equity (and therefore most of the ranking performance) from the old URL to the new URL.
Type the old URL into your browser to double-check that the redirect is working. If it isn’t, here are a couple of common troubleshooting steps:
Note that changing a page URL should only ever be done when a structural change or optimisation is required.
Changing URLs frequently can mean many redirects are encountered, and the page-level equity suffers as a result.
The same considerations apply to changing the URL as apply to removing a page.
As a reminder, these are:
If you’ve decided that you want to change your page URL, then you’ll need to:
Once located, replace the link in the source code with the new URL you’ve chosen.
A 301 redirect type is a permanent redirect and transfers users to the new URL location. It also tells search engines that the page has moved and transfers most of the equity and ranking performance to the new page.
Redirects are a way to send visitors from one URL to another without them needing to type in the new URL or return to the search engines to look elsewhere for their answers. They maintain visitor flow to the correct information as your site changes, with the advantage of keeping visitors away from error pages.
There are many ‘types’ of redirects, which typically use a “3XX” status code.
In SEO, we use 301 permanent redirects. We use a permanent redirect because this states to the search engine that the address has moved and isn’t coming back. The subtext of this is that the search engine should forget the old URL and transfer all values associated with it to the new URL indicated.
Occasionally, in eCommerce sites, an item may go out of stock, meaning it's necessary to send visitors to an alternative. In these cases, a site administrator may use a temporary redirect or a ‘302’ redirect. This states to the search engine that the page is temporarily unavailable, and we are diverting users to this URL. As with any temporary diversion, the inference is that the diversion will be removed in the future. At this point, we will want the search engine to reinstate the URL.
Following these procedures when creating new pages or adjusting and removing URLs ensures your site remains technically healthy, helping both search engines and users better understand your site.
Need some help implementing redirects or auditing your site structure? Please get in touch. Our SEO experts would love to help you.
Carl spends his days helping our clients elevate their brands through the power of SEO. From creating strategies designed to deliver excellence and meet objectives, to implementing campaigns that deliver next-level results, Carl loves it all.More about Carl