Renaming pages = lost links and traffic

I have spent some time recently doing housekeeping on a number of older sites I manage. A part of the housekeeping is a review of sites that we link to. I'm not talking link exchange links here, I'm talking sites we linked to because they have some relevant information we want to reference. You know, those organic type of links that Google likes.

So, what has amazed me throughout this process is the lack of attention people pay to setting up redirects when their pages change.

Your job, or my job?

If you redesign your website based around a new CMS, is it my job to update the link I gave you on my site? Apparently, it is. However, being friendly to search engine spiders and humans would indicate that it's actually your job to setup an appropriate redirect whenever a page is moved on your site.

I would argue that I'm doing you a favour by linking to your site within my unique content. When your link breaks, it makes me look bad to my visitors because my site links to a 404 page. At this point, I have every incentive to remove the link and replace it with something else relevant. Organic links are hard enough to get, so you don't want to lose the ones you have.

This is not rocket science. When a page's URL changes, a 301 redirect needs to be setup to send all the traffic to the right place.
  • Google needs to update it's index by removing the old page and adding the new.
  • Other webmasters link to your site (very kind of them). Don't give them an excuse to remove that hard-earned link.
  • Any visitors that have your page bookmarked will want to be greeted with content when they come back, not your 404 page.

On top of that, without the redirect, any link juice the page has been receiving will be lost. Definitely not what you are after.

Just do it

So, please, when you put in that new CMS, spend some time to make sure your old pages redirect correctly. I have a plugin for my sites which makes this process a breeze, but in the past it has taken a couple of days to setup redirect rules for large sites.

Whatever time is involved, it's usually worth it.
Digg StumbleUpon technorati blinklist furl reddit sphinn