Could You Give Me Some Directions?
One of our SEO clients is exploring a change to their business name and wanted to know if rebranding their website would affect rankings. Obviously brand is part of a much larger marketing strategy conversation. There may be instances where modifying a name is required, especially when the business has evolved or the vision has changed. Aligning a company’s mission with appropriate marketing messages is paramount for a website. But how do you make sure that any naming changes, retiring a domain name or consolidating websites won’t affect your hard-earned SEO equity? That’s where 301 Redirects come in handy.
Preserving SEO ranking can be achieved through proper permanent redirects, sometimes called 301 redirects or URL redirection. It ensures that third-party website links will transfer to the new site. Unfortunately, it’s a common mistake of many website designers and developers to not use redirects, unwittingly losing valuable SEO equity for their clients as part of a redesign project.
Beyond redirection, it’s also a good idea to contact that third party asking them to update their links. While a 301 redirect will transfer some of the link value, that value will decline over time.
If you’re not sure how to technically do this, we recommend checking out Webmaster Tools and watching Matt Cutts’ video overview. Matt explains that there’s no limit to the number of pages where you can have redirects. But beware of multiple redirects for a single page. The bots will only follow those daisy-chained redirects to a certain point before they give up.
If you’re merging two websites, you’ll want to carefully review SEO equity for both sites. In the past, we have used Majestic SEO through Raven Tools as well as Webmaster Tools to figure out the number of inbound links into each website.
Regardless of what SEO tool you utilize, you may want to check out the “what not to do” example used in one of our old Link Building posts. A Web master, who manages a New York best-selling author’s site, lost valuable SEO equity when shutting down a domain. While it was the right strategic marketing decision to consolidate multiple websites into one, lack of proper 301 redirects set their SEO rankings back. It’s an unfortunate technical mishap, one that wasted valuable SEO.
Not sure how 301 Redirect’s make dreaded 404 pages? Send us a message and we’d love to talk about it more.