A URL is an address that redirects the users to a specific web page. It is a subordinate ranking factor, along with factors like title tag, backlinks, keywords, content, etc. URL helps search engine crawlers to comprehend the content of your web pages easily. In addition, using keywords in URLs provides greater visibility of your website on SERPs.
WHY DO YOU CHANGE URL?
There are a variety of reasons for changing the URLs. The most common ones include.
- Based on the way people search, you are optimizing the page.
- Structure changes during the rebranding
- Website redesign or site migration
- Building a new website
- Change in the company name
- Updating dead or bad links
In these cases, elements like domain names or platform changes will no longer allow you to maintain the same URLs.
WHEN SHOULD YOU CHANGE URL?
The honest answer to this question would be – avoid making changes to your URLs unless you have a good reason to do so. But if you have any of the above-mentioned reasons for changing URL or you’re certain that changing your URL structure is necessary for your website, then it would be wise to perform a full site audit so that any loss or drop in site rankings can be monitored further.
IMPACT OF URL CHANGE ON SEO RANKINGS
If you host a good website that ranks well on SERPs, changing the URL might negatively impact your website’s SEO rankings. Google’s John Mueller advises avoiding changing URLs unless it is necessary, because your website may lose current rankings when you redirect it.
He also suggests there is a lot more to be taken care of than just redirecting URLs like:
- When URLs are changed, Google takes a lot of time to rediscover them. This results in a significant loss in rankings and traffic.
- While moving to a new domain, you run the risk of duplicate content and messy redirects.
- You might have built plenty of backlinks for your website, but that referring traffic would be missing.
- Even if you publish the exact content from the old website, the link equity does not have much value in the new website.
- Changing URLs may cause the referring links to lead to error pages. These broken links affect the site’s domain authority and traffic.
Well, if you change the URL directly, you will hurt your search rankings, then how to retain your link equity? Here are some SEO tips to follow when changing your URL to deliver a positive impact on your website’s SEO rankings. Let’s dive right into it.
- A 301 redirect is appropriate for the ideal transition of an old site to a new domain and will prevent links or indexing errors.
- Map out all the redirects on a page by page basis.
- Make Google aware of all the 301 redirects and submit a new XML sitemap in the Google search console.
- Ensure you update all internal and on-page links pointing to the new URL.
- Make sure you export the quality content of your website to the new one.
- Leave the old sitemap temporarily.
- Check if Google analytics is properly tracking your site on the new URL.
Although URL change is performed properly with correct measures and for the right reasons there will be some drop in rankings over a period of time because Google needs time to index the new changes. If URL change is performed with errors, then the loss will be significant and difficult to overcome. So, ensure you follow the best practices to make your Google rankings are maintained in a good position.
To watch the latest Google SEO Office Hours, please check out the video below:
About The Author…
Durga has a master’s degree in engineering. Technological advances in digital space interest her a lot. Digital marketing is her forte and she passionately follows latest trends in the digital marketing space. She has written many trending articles on various social media platforms. Her areas of interest include SEO Optimization, structured data, SMM, Keywords research and analysis etc. She is focused, resourceful and dedicated.