Moving or deleting a web page? Don’t leave visitors and search engines behind

Have you ever clicked a link in a search result, a blog, or embedded in an email only to be shown “404/Page not found. Oops, something went wrong”? Annoying isn’t it? Yet it’s needless and from a small business’ perspective wasteful. They’ve invested hard earned money into marketing to get that link in front of you, but by serving an error message they’ve diluted its imapct.

These errors occur because pages have been deleted from a site, or moved, with little thought to the visitors and search engines they are leaving behind. With the right tools, you can ensure you bring them with you and maximise the impact of your site.

The Power of Redirection

There are many reasons why you may need to move a page or delete it entirely from your site:

  • The page content is old or obsolete
  • The content from two or more pages has greater impact if consolidated onto a single page
  • There’s an opportunity to improve SEO by refining keyword presence in the page’s URL

Whatever the reason for the change, unless the old link is redirected to a suitable alternative, its use will result in a 404 / page not found error. Google recommend using a server-side 301 redirect, indicating the page has permanently moved, to point an old link to a new one.

Redirection can also help protect your search ranking. According to research conducted by Moz, there is a strong correlation between search ranking and number of inbound links to a site, especially for competitive search terms. If you break these links by deleting or moving pages without redirecting them, be prepared for your search ranking and traffic to suffer.

By correctly setting up redirection, you’ll be able to serve site visitors with suitable alternative content and protect your search ranking.

While there may be instances where it’s necessary to abandon a link and serve a genuine 404 error, this should be a deliberate choice.

SETTING UP A 301 REDIRECT.

If you are running a WordPress site, setting up a 301 redirect is simple. Through your site’s dashboard, simply download and activate one of the available plugins. Then follow the plugin’s instructions to redirect an old link to a new destination.

Old page New Page

Screenshot of 301 redirect plugin

Using our own site as an example: During a recent refresh we used 301 redirects to consolidate content relating to “industries”, “clients” and “projects” onto a single “showcase” page. At the same time we also moved the “associates” content to our “outsourced marketing” page.

If you’re not using WordPress please contact your website hoster for guidance on setting up 301 redirects, or alternatively get in contact with us.

resubmit your sitemap.

If you don’t already have one, register for a Google Search Console account. The accounts are free and invaluable for managing your web property. Use this account to (re)submit your Sitemap. This will help Google find and index your new pages, .

You can also use Google Search Console to identify any other links that are causing 404/page not found errors.

If you need help with submitting a sitemap, again please contact us.

Considering something more radical?

If you are considering completely redesign your site, 301 redirects are only one tool required for a successful launch. Unless carefully planned and executed, things can go badly wrong. We recently identified a new website launch that resulted in a 50% reduction in web traffic, with no sign of recovery.

Light the Fuse provide multi-disciplinary marketing support to ambitious small and medium business. We help deliver your ambitions by maximising the impact of your marketing budget.

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