301 Redirects - An Overlooked Essential
A 3 - 0 what?
Have you ever bookmarked a page on a website, then clicked that link a month later only to find an empty page and/or a 404 error? Yeah, me too. This happens when a web page's URLs are changed. It's most common when a website is redesigned and the new website uses a different URL structure than the old website. It's frustrating right? Yes, I agree! It's is also something that can (and should) simply be avoided.
A properly implemented 301 redirect will seamlessly lead your users to the correct corresponding new page and eliminate that your users see something like this when they go to the URL they know and love:
“What about search engines?”
Good question. While not having 301 redirects in place is frustrating for your users, the implications for search engine placement are even worse. Search engines encounter the same frustration when they try to access pages that have moved. When this happens, the bots give up. When the bots give up, your page is removed from the search index and your search engine rank plummets. Scary!
This scenario can also be easily avoided with a 301 redirect. In this case, the 301 redirect tells the search engine the new page location so you don't lose any of your search rankings. Phew!
301s save the world!
Well they are important but we probably shouldn't get too carried away.
301s the underdogs of redesign!
That's a little better. Really, just keep in mind that these redirects are easy to implement, and essential for good usability and seo, but are often overlooked by inexperienced designers and developers. So remember, if you are changing the URL of a page, make sure a redirect is in place!
If you're considering a website for your new business, or a redesign of your existing site, do your homework. Ask questions. Make sure 301 redirects are part of the development checklist. Above all, make sure you're working with an experienced designer.
Want to talk more?
I'd love to. Drop me a line, or give me a call at 413.282.9957.