I was lucky enough to go to the IR Web Design ’08 conference in Miami early this month and do several website consultations for a wide variety of eCommerce websites (both large and small).
A lot of people were looking to do a complete redesign and/or change their eCommerce platform. Meaning most (if not all) of their URLs may be changing. I was blown away by the amount of companies that almost made that switch without being told about redirecting their pages using 301 redirects.
What Is a 301 Redirect?
A 301 redirect is basically a code that says “This page has moved permanently” and redirects any HTTP user agent (including your browser) from an old URL (ex: http://www.rmspangler.com/blog.php?blogid=389/) to your new one (ex: http://www.rmspangler.com/blog-post-new-home/).
Why Does It Matter?
Basically if you’re not redirecting your old URLs to your new URLs you’re leaving any links to your site pointing to the wrong place. This includes organic search listings and links from other websites. Not only that, but it also means that any PageRank associated with those old pages is now lost! With a 301 redirect you’re telling search engines that “the page has moved permanently, so please update your listings” (and you keep my PageRank!). At work we’ve had clients come to us, who had their redesign done by another company, go from 6 digits in sales a month down to 5 (as much as 100,000 down to 20,000). All because the company responsible for the redesign did not do any redirecting for their new URLs.
Don’t Let This Happen To You!
301 Redirects are easy to do! However, depending on how many pages you have it can be a very time consuming process… it’s definitely worth it though.
Example Using .htaccess (Linux / Apache)
redirect 301 /old-page.php http://www.example.com/new-page.php
Example Using httpd.ini (Windows)
RewriteRule /old-page.asp http://www.example.com/new-page.asp [I,O,RP,L]
For more examples of doing 301 redirects, check these sites out: