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How an HTML Redirect Can Save Your Website Ranking
Either use an HTML redirect or get an “Error 404 – Page not found” which is like reading from a tombstone. Here lies a page that used to be and exists no longer. For Google rankings, this results in ejection—red card—game over. But it’s possible to salvage virtually all of your webpage and website ranking power in the eyes of Google by simply doing an HTML redirect. Not redirecting is a huge mistake that will severely damage your current position and can eventually take your site off the grid completely. If you redirect removed or updated URLs, Google will keep your ranking roughly where it already is. There are certain things you need to be careful about when moving or updating a website.
An HTML redirect will work, but keeping the same URLs is the best option.
If you can keep the same URLs for every page of your original site and move all of the content to a new domain, you’re in good shape. Google will cooperate and play along with your site makeover if you do so. After all, your new site should be faster, more suitable for mobile devices, and overall better.
Also, make sure you take SSL certificates into account. Without getting too technical, your sites’ security levels should match, and if they don’t, you may need to take measures to prevent complications. In addition, switching to SSL, site wide, can cause errors with media, images and offsite links. These errors can result in a hit to website rankings.
But what if you cannot keep the same URLs when moving or updating a website?
If you want to move a site to WordPress that wasn’t already on WordPress, you will have new URLs, called permalinks in WordPress, so an HTML redirect will definitely be in order. Likewise if your old site uses PHP or ASP. A HTML redirect will allow you to take your old pages and stamp a new addresses on them. It’s rather like forwarding your mail from the post office.
Once you set it up and HTML redirect, it will be automatic and the person trying to access your old URL will be sent directly to the new URL without even having to know that your site has been moved. They may notice that the URL is different, but that shouldn’t bother any of your visitors. Eventually Google will start linking directly to your new page in its search results, bypassing the original page entirely.
If you redirect to a completely new page, however, Google will basically view this as a 404 error. Google will be expecting certain content from the link it’s given, so if it ends up with entirely new content, it will detect that something is not right. In this situation, you can lose your ranking for that webpage. Keeping all of the content the same or similar is essential to retaining your SERP standing.
If you are in fact redirecting to WordPress, there is an easy plugin called Redirection that will automatically let Google know that you are redirecting. Otherwise, you may have to get technical. You can find all the information you need through online tutorials.
Redirect When Keeping the Same Site but Changing the Permalinks
If you’re not moving sites but you want to adjust the permalinks, the process is virtually the same as doing an HTML redirect from a different site to a new site.
Another use for an HTML redirect would be when switching a website from http to https. An example of this would be if you type in the URL of a bank followed by, you’ll be redirected to their secure ‘https’ site. The URL will change from ‘bank.com’ to ‘https://bank.com’ to show the visitor that the site they are visiting is in fact secured.
If you’ve changed your brand in some way, including the name, you can still retain all of your backlinks by redirecting the old URLs with the old brand identification to the new URLs containing the new brand or name. All of your old connections will remain the same, maintaining all of your hard earned back links.
You can salvage all of your links and most likely maintain your current SERP position through a HTML redirect. Not redirecting one of your pages when moving to a new site is the same thing as putting it to rest as far as Google is concerned. There are many advantages to redirecting, including switching to an SSL secured site, customizing your URL, moving to a faster host, etc. Whether you decide to redirect in hopes of improving your site or out of
necessity, a 301 redirect is a safe way to keep your backlinks and Google ranking intact in the process.
To ensure that rankings are maintained when changing URLs, consulting a professional SEO company is a good idea. CourseVector offers a free SEO analysis and our team would be happy to help if HTML redirection becomes a necessity.