I’d like to clarify briefly what I mean before we get into suggestions for avoiding redirection mistakes. When I speak of the process of migration, I’m referring to experiences with these fundamental actions.
CMS format for moving/URL
A good example of a move I could be talking about could be that we’re dealing with one of our clients and they had previously had an CMS with an default URL format, and it was outdated.
It was like the month of May, 2018 and the subsequent post. We’re now changing the CMS. We’re more flexible with the way our pages, URLs are organized, so we’ll change the URL to”/post” or something similar. That’s why many URLs will be shifting around due to altering the way these URLs are organized.
“Keywordy” Name conventions
A different scenario is when we’ll receive clients who arrive with a variety of outdated or keyword-laden URLs. We’d like to make this much more clear, so we can make them shorter whenever possible and make them more readable for humans.
An example of that would be maybe the client used URLs like /best-plumber-dallas, and we want to change it to something a little bit cleaner, more natural, and not as keywordy, to just /plumbers or something like that. It could be another example of many URLs changing if we’re taking over an entire website and looking to get rid of these.
Another scenario is when we’re completing a total overhaul of the content. Perhaps the client contacts us and says, “Hey, we’ve been writing content and blog posts for quite a long time and are experiencing a lack of results and traffic that we’d like to see. Are you able to do an exhaustive review of all your content?” Most of the time, we find that you may have hundreds of pages, but four are ranked.
It’s true that there are lots of pages that are redundant and pages that are thin and could be more powerful when combined, and some pages don’t have a function and we’d like to let them die. This is another instance where we’d be merging URLs and moving pages around, and dropping some completely. This is another way of moving items around that I’m talking about.
Do we really know this information? Yes but…
This is what I’m talking about in relation to migrations. However, before we begin I wanted to make a point about do we really know about this subject already? This is referring to SEOs We all understand or ought to know how important redirection is. If you don’t have a redirect then there’s no way to trace to tell Google the location you’ve relocated your website to.
It can be a hassle for users when they click on the link and it doesn’t work anymore, or does not lead them to where they should be. We are aware of the importance and we’re sure of the effect it has. It helps to transfer link equity. It ensures that users aren’t annoyed. It assists in getting the right page index All of these things. This is all we need to know. If you’re anything like me, you’ve experienced situations where you’re required to devote whole days fixing 404s that correct any loss in traffic following a migration. Or you’re fixing 301s which possibly done, but were shipped to all sorts of bizarre, funny locations.
There are still mistakes to be made even when we are aware of how important redirects are. Therefore, I’d like to discuss the reasons quickly.
Uncertainty of ownership is possible, especially in the case of a shakier team, or a smaller one and perhaps you don’t deal with these situations often enough to establish a specific procedure for handling this. I’ve encountered situations where I believed that the tech would take care of it, while the tech thought that the project manager was going to handle the job.
We’re all sort of making fun of one another with no clarity on responsibility, and then the ball is dropped since no one knows the person responsible. Therefore, make sure you have designated someone to handle it , and that they’re aware and trust they will handle it.
Another issue is deadlines. External and internal deadlines can influence this. For instance, one scenario I have encountered a lot is that a client would declare, “Hey, we really require this work to be completed by Monday as we’re planning to launch a new initiative. We’re planning to do a commercial on TV and our website will be featured in the commercial. This is why I’d really like to see to wrap this up once the commercials are live.”
External deadlines can impact how fast we complete our tasks. Most of the time, it is just pushed to the side because it’s not very prominent. If you’re not aware of the importance of redirects you may be responsible for things like content, and making sure that the buttons function properly and the template is attractive and such, the things that are visible. When people think that redirects are simply a backend issue. We can handle it in the future. Unfortunately, redirects often aren’t considered to be a problem in the event that the person making the redirection isn’t aware of the significance of it.
Another aspect of deadlines is the internal deadlines. There are times when you may have the deadline of an annual game or one that is monthly. We must have every project completed on time. Similar to the deadlines. Redirects are typically an issue that is often missed the deadlines for these kinds of situations.
Non-SEOs who handle the redirection
Another issue that could result in site migration errors and 404s when moving are non-SEOs managing this. It’s not necessary to be an expert SEO in order to deal with this kind of thing. It’s all dependent on the features of your CMS and how complex is the process you’re using to implement your redirects. However, sometimes, if it’s simple or if your CMS allows for redirection and simple, it could be viewed as a type of data entry of job. It could be assigned to someone who may not realize the importance of completing all of them , or creating them in a proper way or even redirecting them to areas they’re supposed take them to.
The rules for redirection in site migrations
These are just a few of the situations I’ve had difficulties with. Now that we sort of understand the issues I’m talking about regarding migrations and the reasons why they can of do happen, I’m going to go over some basic rules that should hopefully aid in preventing errors during site migrations due to unsuccessful redirects.
- Create one-to-one redirects
First of all, always make one-to-one redirects. This is extremely important. Sometimes, I’ve heard that it could save me lots in time, if I make use of a wildcard to redirect those pages on the home page, or to the blog’s homepage or something similar. What it informs Google it that page A is now moved to Page B, but this isn’t the case. It’s not like you’re moving each of them to Page A on the home page. The pages haven’t been moved to the homepage. This is a non-relevant redirect. Google has said I believe, that they view them as soft 404. They’re not even counted. Make sure to not do this. Always link your URLs to the new location all the time one-to-one for each URL moving.
- Beware of redirect chains
Watch out for chains. I believe Google states something that is oddly specific, for example, look out for redirect chain, which is three, not over five. It is best to keep it to the most you can. Chains refer to that you’ve got URL A and you then forward it through B and later decide to transfer it to a different place. Instead of having a middleman to help, A from B and C to cut the URL if you are able to. Straight from the source to the final destination, A to C.
- Be on the lookout for loops
Three, be aware of loops. The same thing can happen if when you redirect position A URL B to a different version C, and then return to A. The result is that it’s on its tail. It won’t be resolved and you’re directing it on loop. Therefore, be aware of things similar to this. A way to test the things I believe to be an awesome tool. Screaming Frog has a redirect chain report. You can check whether you’re experiencing one of these issues after you’ve set up your redirects.
- 404 strategically
4. 404 strategically. If you have 404s on your website is all it will not harm your website’s ranking. This is the process of letting dead pages go that were ranked and is bringing the site visitors that are likely to create problems. Naturally, if a webpage is 404ing, in the end Google will remove it off the index when you do not redirect it to a new site. If that page was performing very well, if it was bringing traffic to your site it will lose the advantages it provided. If it was linked to it, you’re likely to be unable to benefit from this backlink should it go down.
If you’re planning to redirect your site to 404, take it slowly. Pages can go to waste. As in these scenarios it could be that you’re simply eliminating a page, and it isn’t in a new place and nothing for it. This is fine. But be aware that you’re bound lose any advantages that the URL could have brought to your website.
- Prioritize “SEO valuable” URLs
Fifth Prioritize “SEO beneficial” URLs. I do this because I would rather redirect everything you’re moving, and everything that’s actually moving.
However, due to situations such as deadlines, and such and when you’re right down to the final minute, I think it’s crucial to start out with the principal URLs. They are the ones which are ranked extremely well, bringing you lots of visitors, or URLs that you’ve earned links for. Therefore, those SEO-friendly URLs, even if you’re on an obligation and you aren’t able to complete all of your redirects prior to when the project is launched At least you’ve got the most crucial, important URLs taken care of first.
It’s not ideal, and I don’t consider in my head it’s best to wait for later than the time of launch. It’s obviously ideal to have everything in place before it’s live. If that’s not always the case, and you’re caught up and have to go live, at the very most, you’ll be able to handle the most crucial URLs for SEO benefits.
Sixth one, to finish it off Test. It is extremely important to be able to observe these things, as it is possible to think you’ve got everything set correctly, but there were formatting mistakes or perhaps you have redirecting some thing to the wrong spot. It’s essential to check. What can you do is to type in site:domain.com and then click on the results you see and check if any of them redirecting you to the wrong location or redirecting to 404.
Simply check all those index URLs to ensure that they’re headed to the correct destination. I believe that Moz’s Site Crawl is another huge benefit for testing. If it has a domain setup or a URL that you have set up within a campaign using Moz Pro, it checks each week for errors, and can trigger another run if you wish to.
However, it will search your website for errors similar to this, specifically 404s. If there are problems similar to that 500 or 400 mistakes, Site Crawl will catch the issue and notify you. If you’re not in charge of the domain you’re working on as part of an campaign within Moz Pro, there’s on-demand crawl, too. You can use it on any domain you’re working on in order to check for similar things.
There are many other methods to test and spot mistakes. The most important thing to keep in mind is to simply take the time to check and ensure that, even after you’ve done these steps, you’re checking that there aren’t any issues following a launch. It’s best to check right after launching and after a few days after that, you can sort of slow down until you’re sure that everything went smoothly.