For every business owner, there inevitably comes a time when you need to change the URL(s) on your small business website. Whether it’s updating an old blog post, merging multiple product pages, or consolidating your web pages, you’ll need to make changes that will affect how your pages are accessed.
However, changing URLs can be a total disaster if done incorrectly. This will ultimately result in 404 page errors which could potentially have a negative impact on domain authority and organic ranking, leading to a significant decrease in traffic.
So, how do you avoid breaking a page URL? Learn how to create a 301 Redirect!
Why would a URL change?
Changing the URL of an existing page is commonly done when building a new website, changing CMS platforms, merging similar pages into one, or changing the location of a specific page in the navigation structure. I’ve also seen instances where clients want to change URLs to target specific keywords to better optimize their page, or were looking to change the entire focus of a page.
It’s not necessarily a “bad” decision to change a page URL, but it needs to be done with care. One mistake in this area will result in a broken URL. This means the page will display a 404 error which typically leads to web visitors bouncing off the page. Google interprets this as though the page is not relevant to the search phrase(s) driving traffic and slowly begins to reduce visibility, ranking your page low in the search results.
You can change URLs on the website, but know that it almost always has a significant impact on SEO (search engine optimization). URLs act as directions when search engines crawl and index a website. So when URLs change, your place in organic search results change too .
However, properly changing a page URL is actually pretty easy, especially if your website is built using Word Press. To avoid a total disaster, only change a URL when it is necessary and practical for your website goals.
Just follow these steps:
How to Create a 301 Redirect in WordPress
Page Redirection is the process of forwarding one URL to a different URL. There are two main kinds of 300 redirects, 301 and 302.
The 301 status code tells search engines that a page has permanently moved to a new location. Implementing 301 redirects at the server level retains up to 99% of your original link juice (ranking power).
A 302 redirect tells search engines that a page has moved temporarily. However, there are rare occasions when a 302 redirect is needed. 301 redirects are more appropriate and practical, so that’s what we’ll talk about in this article.
Alright now that we know more of what a 301 redirect is, let’s get into how to create a 301 redirect for a page in Word Press:
Step 1: Log into the back end of your website to access your Word Press account.
Step 2: Move to the navigation bar located on the left-hand side and click on the “Tools” option.
Step 3: Under the drop-down menu, click the “Redirection” option. Then click the “Add New” option at the top of the page.
Step 4: Drop in the extension for the source URL (the old page you want to redirect from) and then drop in the target URL (the new page you should redirect to), and then click the “Add Redirect”.
Creating a 301 redirect is a great option to avoid deleting a page and creating a 404 error code. However, if a 301 redirect isn’t what you need to deal with a 404 page error, there are a few other ways you can make sure your web pages are loading properly and aren’t showing 404 page errors.
How to Eliminate Website 404 Errors
Website 404 errors are nothing to be happy about. They can end up costing you revenue and page rank in Google, but at times they can seem inevitable. So, what is a small business to do?
It really boils down to just staying up to date about what’s happening on your website. Here are three easy ways you can avoid 404 errors on your website:
– Fix Broken Links: Use a link checker service to locate and fix broken links. There are many free tools online that can crawl your site to help with this. Two good options to consider are Xenu’s Link Sleuth and Screaming Frog. Make sure to use these tools to crawl your website or old web pages regularly so you can stay up to date on any new 404 errors that may have occurred.
– Resubmit A Site Map: After you have fixed all of your broken links, you may want to submit a new sitemap in Google Search Console. Creating a site map helps search engines crawl and categorize the pages on your site quickly, so you can start ranking higher, faster.
– Make A Note In Google Analytics: Note the date URLs are updated to track and measure your website traffic changes. Don’t be alarmed if you notice a small dip in website traffic initially (it may take search engines some time to recognize all the web page updates), but keep an eye out for significant drops. Large changes in traffic could be an indicator that you’ve missed a 404 error.
Make sure you pay constant attention to how your web pages are performing online and check regularly to see if they need to be updated in any way. Many times, you’ll be able to avoid 404 errors from occurring through attentiveness and careful planning.
Changing the URL of a page doesn’t have to result in disaster. If your page is returning a 404 error, you have a few options. Take a look at the article above to get some easy ways you can manage potentially harmful 404 error pages and learn how to create 301 redirects to get your pages up and running again!