Preserving your website’s SEO value (search engine optimization value) is one of the best things you can do for your website once it’s online and attracting visitors. Your visitors need to be able to find you on the web, so you want to make sure Google is tracking your important pages.
Keeping your website secure is one way to ensure that you retain your SEO value, also often known as “Google rankings.” By keeping your website secure, you prevent spammers from stealing your web pages and inserting their own spam content and links into your pages, taking advantage of your page rankings.
But what if you’re sabotaging your own SEO value?
On a WordPress website, you can cause your own SEO value to drop if you change a page’s URL, intentionally or not.
How could this happen?
- A page’s URL might change if you modify the page “slug” (for example, this page’s slug is “save-your-seo-value-with-redirection”).
- The page URL would also change if you move the page into a different spot in the hierarchy, so instead of being found at https://yourwebsite.com/fishing-lures/, it’s now found at https://yourwebsite.com/fishing/lures/.
Eventually Google will catch up with your modifications, but you don’t want to lose traffic in the meantime.
How can you avoid losing traffic?
In order to avoid losing SEO value and website traffic, create a redirect from the old URL to the new one.
A redirect means that if someone clicks on the old link, which they might have found somewhere on your site, or on a different website, they will be taken to your new web page instead of getting a “404/Page not found” error.
This helps you retain any search engine rankings your old page already had.
One great tool for this is the free Redirection plugin, which you can find in the WordPress plugin repository.
After installing the plugin, to create a redirect, go to Tools -> Redirection.
Click on “Add New.”
Source URL: enter the original page’s URL. (Example: https://yourwebsite.com/fishing-lures/)
Target URL: enter the URL to which the original URL should now point. (Example: https://yourwebsite.com/fishing/lures/)
For both source & target URL, you can enter the full URL; the program will automatically update as required.
Click on “Add Redirect” to save.
You will see your saved Redirect in the list:
Be sure to test your redirect.
There are two ways to test your redirect:
- Click on the blue link to visit the original URL and make sure you are sent to the new URL.
- Mouseover the row, and click on “Check Redirect.” You will see a green checkmark if it works, or further information if it doesn’t.
If your redirect doesn’t work, try clearing your website cache and your browser cache, and then try again.
On the Redirection -> Options page, you can ask the plugin to let you know when the URL of a post or page changes, so you will remember to set up a redirect.