The beauty of the online world is its connectedness. An action is rarely an isolated event but rather it creates a ripple effect and its reach is wide. The potential then for opportunities is immense, which is really quite remarkable. And then the downside is needing to always take into account that ripple effect and its potential for things to go wrong.
A page or post that has been published for a while has already been noticed by Google and the search engine has stored away the keywords you’ve used and its link (URL), which is exactly what you’re wanting it to do. One simple action of changing a page or blog post URL can then lead to your website visitors landing on an error page so it’s important to follow the steps involved to do this task properly.
And it doesn’t end there. Google hates sending people to error pages… it basically ruins its reputation and as a result the search engine will gradually take away your rankings because you’re now not so much as a reliable source of valuable information.
None of these consequences are desirable. So let’s go through all of the steps involved.
Step 1: Copy the old URL and change it to your new one
Make sure you remember the old URL (you’ll be needing this in a future step). Then change the URL to the one you’re wanting. If your new url has several words to it, make sure you separate them with a hyphen.
If you’re using WordPress, simply head to the page or post and change it here:
When done, click the OK button and remember to then save the page or post otherwise the URL won’t change.
Step 2: Create a redirect for your old URL
So that Google won’t send people to your old URL which will now display an error page instead, you need to assign a 301 redirect. A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect which transfers most of the ranking power (link juice) to the redirected page. This means the Google ranking for the old URL will be transferred to the new one.
In WordPress, you’ll need to install a new plugin called Simple 301 Redirects. Enter the only the URL path (everything that comes after your domain name) of the old link (which you copied in Step 1) and enter the full URL of the new one, just like this:
Click the Save Changes button at the bottom of page.
You’ve now ensured people land on your beautifully designed page or post rather than an error page.
Step 3: Monitor your error pages
A final step is all about you being proactive. Install another plugin, called Broken Link Checker and it’ll routinely check your website for any broken links, including URLs that are no longer in use.
The plugin will even email you once it has detected a broken link so that you’re able to either change the link or create a 301 redirect before Google penalises you for it.
Remember it’s always best to back up your website before you add new plugins into the mix. Needing a hand? It’s always such a relief knowing there’s an expert you can call upon.