URL structure and consistency is one of the most important elements of your website especially if it’s aged. Your site’s URLs represent the location of your content on the web and if those change, people can no longer find your content, your traffic takes a nose dive and you miss out on potential clients. If you’re an attorney thinking about moving your site to another host, to another domain or for some other reason, check out these tips for how to get it done without losing your rankings in search.
If you’re simply changing hosting providers, you don’t really need to worry about redirecting URLs as long as you don’t change your file structure. The trick is finding a host that has a simple migration process.
Blue Host for example has an excellent WordPress migration process with documentation. If you want to sign up for Blue Host hosting packages you can do so here (full disclosure I’m a Blue Host Affiliate). As always I would never recommend something to my audience if I didn’t think it was a quality service/product.
There are a lot of reasons lawyers may want to change the structure of their URLs. For example they may want to rank for different keywords on a page (and include keywords in the URL), they may want to make their URLs prettier, or they may be changing content around.
The one thing you don’t want to do is nothing especially if your site is old. Over time search engines have ranked your web pages according to their relevance for specific phrases. If those URLs change, users will no longer be able to reach them from search and engines will eventually drop them out of their SERPs.
In addition, you may have links around the web leading to your old URLs. If you change your URLs you will not only lose the traffic that the link provided but any link juice that was coming to your site. If you plan on moving your site and changing the URL structure, make sure you do the following:
• Redirect any changed URL to a new URL that has the same or similar content
• Make sure you use 301 permanent redirects
• Change any links to the appropriate ones if possible. For example on your citation websites you should change your old URLs to your new ones. Redirects diminish link juice so it’s important to change a URL if you can.
• Be sure and change any internal linking and use relative URLs not absolute ones
As long as you make all of your pages findable from the old URLs of your site, you will not lose any rankings in search. Using 301 redirects will ensure that search engines know to use the new URLs instead of the old ones in search and the old URLs will eventually fall out.
Have you ever moved a website before? What tips do you have for preserving website rankings? Join in the conversation by commenting below.