Are you losing page rank and visitors when you change the names of your pages? - mjcpk web design and development

Archive for November, 2011

Are you losing page rank and visitors when you change the names of your pages?

Monday, November 21st, 2011

Without thinking about it you can easily be creating links from search engines and other sites that go to missing content. Make sure that when you rename pages, images and other files on your site that you tell everyone what you’ve done.

A .htaccess file is an essential tool for any website. It has many uses like setting default pages, 404 pages, indexes and URL rewriting but what we need it for here is the 301 redirect.
A 301 redirect is a way of telling the web server that you’ve moved or renamed a file but you still want links to the previous name or location to keep working. For example: if I have a page titled ‘products.html’ that I decide to rename ‘new_products.html’ I can use a 301 redirect to make sure anyone following a link to ‘products.html’ gets to ‘new_products.html’ and not a 404 page.

Where’d my Page Rank go?

There is nothing worse than having lots of people linking to your site and finding that it doesn’t go to the page you want it to. It also means that any Google Page Rank that you would have received is lost.

A 301 redirect tells people that the page has moved permanently. Search engines can use this to update their indexes and ensure that Page Rank is passed on to the new page name.

The syntax for a 301 redirect is really simple:

Redirect 301 /oldpagename

Just create a new line for each page that you have renamed or moved. You can even redirect a page to one on another site if you have moved it that far.

You probably have a .htaccess file in the root of your website. If not you can create one yourself, it’s just a normal text file.

In summary

So when you next change the name of a file or an image on your site don’t forget to add it to your .htaccess file as a 301 redirect. You can check if you have any broken links on your site with Google Webmaster Tools. The 301 redirect also helps if you haven’t managed to update all of the internal links on your site too.