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How Search Engines Rank Your Website

Most website owners already know that Google reviews their website in order to determine where they will rank for search phrases. However, most website owners don’t know that, on average, Google’s search engine bots are testing each page on your website by performing hundreds of tests at least once a week. These results are then compiled to give your website a search engine ranking that determines where your page will appear in the search results for each relevant search phrase.

Search engine algorithms, like Google’s, are made up of over 200 components to determine your site's ranking.

Perhaps the most important factor in determining your search ranking lies in your URLs. As Google reviews the content for each page contained in your website, it will search for specific keywords and keyword phrases then assign a score to the page for those specific factors. These scores are then also averaged into a domain score. With this in mind, you may be wondering how a change in your existing URL can affect your search ranking.

How Do URL Changes Affect SEO?

Any changes that are made to your URL, both intentionally or unintentionally, could be affecting your website SEO and search engine ranking. For instance, if you were to add a backslash (/) to the end of your URL or change any capitalization (A to a, or vice versa), this would constitute a URL change. Without notifying search engines about this change, your potential traffic may be accessing dead links and hurting your online reputation and search engine ranking.

A 25% loss in site traffic can occur when a URL is changed and should only be done if absolutely necessary.

The most common scenario that results in URL changes is a website redesign, particularly when a platform change occurs (e.g. Wix to WordPress). Unfortunately, many webmasters and marketing firms overlook the importance of ensuring URL changes are dealt with properly to avoid any detrimental changes to search ranking. More often than not, this can, unfortunately, have a drastic impact on organic search traffic to your website.

When a URL change occurs, any previous page rank score you had for the content on that page will be lost and, in turn, drag down your domain score. Another factor, page maturity, will also suffer as Google recognizes the new URL as a new page, removing the relevancy of your existing URL. ANY changes that occur in your URLs will have negative effects on your SEO if not properly managed, but fortunately, there are ways that you can prevent these effects.

301 Redirects for SEO Changes

To ensure search engines are being redirected to your website pages properly, it is important to implement a redirect that notifies them the exact URL that has replaced the original. This not only ensures your visitors are actually making it to their requested content, it ensures your website remains accessible when found through a search engine. This can help boost your SEO by reducing the number of people immediately leaving your website, as well as increasing the amount of time they spend on each of your pages.

A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect which passes between 90-99% of link juice (ranking power) to the redirected page.

301 redirects are a method of communicating to search engines that a page has moved permanently and the new page needs to be indexed to replace the old URL in their index.  Properly implementing a 301 redirect can help retain any previous ranking that had been earned from the existing URL while preventing the risk of decreasing your search engine ranking if duplicate content is indexed for your existing website. If a URL change occurs on your website, a 301 redirect is critical for remaining competitive in search engine rankings.

302 Redirects for SEO Changes

In some cases, a permanent redirect isn’t required on your website and a temporary redirect may make more sense. For instance, if you operate an e-commerce website and sell seasonal items, you may have the urge to remove product listings entirely when the season is over in case they aren’t available again next season. This, unfortunately, can create broken links on any relevant search phrases your potential customers are searching for or undo the current SEO value of your existing URL.

302, or 'Moved Temporarily', are poor substitutes, as they generally will not pass the rankings and search engine value like a 301 redirect will.

302 redirects are a method of communicating to search engines that your page is temporarily unavailable and notifies them the exact page you would like that URL to temporarily redirect to. This can ensure that your website’s visitors are accessing relevant information or products instead of an unavailable product or content that is not currently available or relevant. Unlike a 301 redirect, this will not pass on the SEO value to a new URL and will be retained by the original page when it is available again.

404 Redirects for SEO Changes

If you have ever mistyped a URL, you have likely stumbled across a 404 page. When a visitor to your website attempts to access a URL that doesn’t exist or the server can’t find a matching page for their request, a 404 page will likely need to be shown. However, if a URL is receiving substantial amounts of traffic or provides inherent value, the URL should be 301 redirected to a relevant page for the most value.

404 pages can improve your SEO. Consider a custom, branded 404 page with a search bar and links to your most popular posts and pages.

A properly implemented 404 page will notify the visitor that the information they have tried to access doesn’t exist and provide access to other pages in your website, including the homepage. 404 pages should always include navigational options to ensure bounce rates are maintained as well as possible. At Skynet Solutions, we can monitor your 404 redirects to ensure relevant 301 redirects are implemented to provide the best experience possible for your website’s visitors.

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Why Partner with Skynet Solutions?

At Skynet Solutions, we have the knowledge and experience necessary to properly implement 301 redirects as needed to prevent the loss of your current URL rank. By updating your website, you don’t have to miss out on traffic you could be getting because of a dated interface and decreased search engine visibility. If you are interested in seeing how we can improve your website and search engine ranking, we would love to talk to you. Check out the links below for more information on the different online marketing services we offer.

Web Design

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Tracking and analyzation of statistics about your website. Find out how your customers’ behavior on your website is a key to success.

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Learn how to connect to your audience on a personal level through social networks and grow your business through them.

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