How to Change Your Website URL Without Confusing Google

January 24, 2009

301 is an http code that corresponds to a permanent redirect. Implementing the 301 Redirect informs Google that you have permanently moved your website to a different URL.

301 Redirect is also often referred to as Google-Friendly Redirect because you get to maintain your website’s current ranking. Once informed, Google treats your website as the same book with a different cover. When your URL is properly redirected, Google simply transfers the merits of your website under your old URL to the new one.

After running your SEM campaign for a while, you’ll find that you have tons of old pages. Instead of deleting them, 301 Redirect allows you to make your old pages work towards increasing the ranking of your new URL.

Doing so would give you 4 major benefits:

1. Provides a stable foundation for your new web pages
The search engine merits of all your old web pages will definitely help push your new website, as long as you do proper redirecting and make sure that you incorporate your new URL in your old pages, especially those that rank the highest.

Another way to understand this “sharing of merit” is to look at your old web pages as steps that allow your new website or web page to climb the search engines faster.

2. Provides you with your own network of links
Your old network of internal and external links should continue working for you with your new URL. It is difficult to build credibility online. Don’t start from scratch if you don’t need to.

301 Redirect allows you to continue capitalizing on your existing link networks. The key is to make sure that your old pages are properly redirected to your new pages. This way, you won’t have to inform all the blogs and forums with which you’ve already made a relationship about the change in URL. The links will do their job and bring people to the right pages.

3. Gives search engine spiders more to crawl over
The continued existence of all your old web pages allows you to stay optimized for your niche keywords. The more relevant presence you have online, the better chances you have of being pulled up as a search engine result. And no matter which page gets to rank, users will still be able to find their way to your new URL with 301 Redirect.

Remember that this will only work if your old pages already have relevant and well-written content valued by your target market. Good content will encourage them to click the links that bring them to other pages and ultimately, to your new URL.

4. Provides your visitors with “back issues” of your website content
Links to and from your old web pages provide users a rich archive of “back issues.” This helps them get to know you better and acknowledge the credibility and relationships you’ve built with other websites, blogs, and online forums.

Giving users the option to check out old content will help them understand the history of your brand and how your product line has evolved with the market to better serve their needs.