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A common problem that I come across is when a business decides to get its website upgraded/redeveloped and all the existing pages on the old website get deleted or page names get changed, i.e from www.yourwebsite.com/contact.htm to www.yourwebsite.com/contact-us/, and the developers do not add a 301 re-direct(s). All of a sudden your websites rankings in search engines collapses and your website traffic disappears.

A 301 re-direct tells search engines such as Google that the information from the old page (www.yourwebsite.com/contact.htm) is now permanently available on the new page (www.yourwebsite.com/contact-us/). In fact anytime you permanently delete a page or post from your website you should use a 301 re-direct to re-direct customers and Google to where you want them to go on your website so they do not get a “No Results Found” page.

Why is this important?

This is extremely important and this will save you money! I will explain why:

Your website consists of a domain name, www.yourdomain.com, and you have a number of pages on your website. Overtime, your domain name  and each of your website pages  builds a reputation with search engines such as Google. Moz.com call this the Domain authority and the Page authority. The better your domain and website pages reputation with Google the higher your website and its pages will rank in search engines results relating to the services you provide or the products you sell.

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No Results Found

If you or your developers do not create 301 redirects to tell Google that you have now permanently changed the name/location of the old page to the new page, i.e from www.yourwebsite.com/contact.htm to www.yourwebsite.com/contact-us/, Google will believe that the page is deleted, the information is no longer relevant and in time the page will be removed from the search engine results page (SERP).

In essence, you have lost the reputation that you have built with Google for that page and if you redeveloped a new site and each page is not redirected to its replacement page then the old reputation is not passed on and every new page has to establish its own reputation with Google.  This means that your existing rankings in Google and other search engines will collapse and this will negatively affect the visitor traffic to your website. Visitors bring new business (money!).

For customers who find the old page in search engines, until it is delisted, they will receive the message as above, “No Results Found”. This can be very frustrating for customers and if they exit the site without further navigating to find the information they were originally searching for, this can also cost you money.

Conclusion

If you are considering re-developing your website or making changes to the structure of your site, make sure you ask your developers to ensure the correct 301 re-directs are in place to maintain your domains and website page’s reputation with Google and other search engines and this will ensure your current search engine rankings are maintained.

Cathal Quinn
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