To avoid issues that may arise due to broken links, it's important keep track of major Navigational changes, renames, and Page moves once a web site is live and publicly indexed.

Understanding Web Page Redirects

Mon Aug 26, 2013

Web Page redirects, also known as 301 redirects, are the Internet equivalent of forwarding an new address with the post office when you move. A redirect will tell people the new location that a Page or Asset can be found in on your web site. Redirects also tell search engines like Google where the location to a Page has changed to.

Did You Know?

When search engines index a web site, they take a snapshot of the web site at that time.GoogleBing, or Yahoo doesn't index every web site on the Internet in real time-that would be near impossible. This means that often there can be a delay of days, even weeks, between a search engine indexing your web site and you publishing changes. As you actively edit your web site and rename Pages or Assets, restructure a sites information architecture (IA) with Navigation changes, or by simply moving content around on the site, the public URL on the web site for that content will also change.

This can cause one of website marketers worst enemies: Broken Links and the dreaded 404 status code. Even worse, broken links from free organic search traffic that was actually working!

How to Avoid This Problem

To avoid this problem, a best practice to follow is to keep track of major Navigational changes, renames, and Page moves once a web site is live and publicly indexed. Note the old URL for a section, page or asset before making the change, and note the new URL after the change. Before Publishing the changes, pass that list off to the Web Server administrator so that they can add URL rewriting rules to the web server for the old URLs. Once your faithful Web Server admin completes the redirect changes, then publish the web site. After publishing is completed, refer to that list of changes and test that the old location has had its address forwarded to the new one.

With this simple step, search engine results, users that have bookmarked a URL, or often overlooked resources like AdWords campaigns, email signatures, or Print references to an old URL will still work. No broken link. Even better, search engines like Google are also smart enough that they will update their database when they see a 301 Redirect response from a web server, replacing the old location with the new one.

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