Diverts: One Way to Make or Break Your Site Migration — Whiteboard Friday

Correctly redirecting your URLs is among the most important things you can do to make a site immigration go smoothly, but there are apparent processes to follow if you want to get it correct. In this week’s Whiteboard Friday, Kameron Jenkins breaks down the rules of redirection for site migrations to make sure your own URLs are set up for success.

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Movie Transcription

Hey, men. Welcome to this week’s edition associated with Whiteboard Friday. My name is Kameron Jenkins, and I work here at Moz. Exactly what we’re going to be talking about today will be redirects and how they’re one way that you could make or break your site migration. Site immigration can mean a lot of different things depending on your own context.


I wanted to go over quickly the reason before we dive into a few tips for avoiding redirection errors. While i talk about migration, I’m coming from the connection with these primary activities.

CMS moving/URL format

One example of a migration I might become referring to is maybe we’re accepting a client and they previously used a CMS that had a default kind of WEB LINK formatting, and it was dated some thing.

So it was like /2018/May/ and the post. Then we’re altering the CMS. We have more versatility with how our pages, our own URLs are structured, so we’ll move it to just /post or even something like that. In that way a lot of Web addresses are going to be moving around because we’re modifying the way that those URLs are organized.

“Keywordy” naming exhibitions

Another instance is the fact that sometimes we’ll get clients that can come to us with kind of out dated or keywordy URLs, and we wish to change this to be a lot cleanser, shorten them where possible, simply make them more human-readable.

A good example of that would be maybe the client used Web addresses like /best-plumber-dallas, and we want to change it out to something a little bit cleaner, a lot more natural, and not as keywordy, in order to /plumbers or something like that. To ensure that can be another example of lots of Web addresses moving around if we’re taking over an entire site and we’re kind of wishing to do away with those.

Content material overhaul

Another illustration is if we’re doing a complete articles overhaul. Maybe the client comes to all of us and they say, “Hey, we’ve been composing content and blogging for an actually long time, and we’re just not viewing the traffic and the rankings that people want. Can you do a thorough review of all of our content? ” Generally what we notice is that you have probably even thousands of pages, but 4 of them are ranking.

So there are a lot of just redundant web pages, pages that are thin and will be stronger together, some pages that will just don’t really serve an objective and we want to just let expire. So that’s another example exactly where we would be merging URLs, shifting pages around, just letting several drop completely. That’s another sort of migrating things around that Now i’m referring to.

Don’t we all know this stuff? Yes, but…

That’s what I’m referring to with regards to migrations. But before we dive within, I kind of wanted to address the truth that like don’t we know this stuff currently? I mean I’m talking to SEOs, and all know or should know the importance of redirection. If there’s not a redirect, there is path to follow to tell Google exactly where you’ve moved your page in order to.

It’s frustrating pertaining to users if they click on a link that will no longer works, that doesn’t take them towards the proper destination. We know it’s important, and know what it does. It passes hyperlink equity. It makes sure people not necessarily frustrated. It helps to get the correct web page indexed, all of those things. So we understand this stuff. But if you’re like me, you have also been in those situations to have to spend entire days repairing 404s to correct traffic loss or even whatever after a migration, or you fixing 301s that were maybe performed but they were sent to all kinds of strange, funky places.

Errors still happen even though we know the significance of redirects. So I want to talk about precisely why really quickly.

Not clear ownership

Unclear possession is something that can happen, especially if you’re on a scrappier team, a smaller group and maybe you don’t handle these things frequently enough to have a defined process with this. I’ve been in situations where We assumed the tech was going to get it done, and the tech assumed that the task assistant was going to do it.

We’re all kind of pointing fingers each and every other with no clear ownership, then the ball gets dropped since no one really knows whose obligation it is. So just make sure that you specify someone to do it and that they know and you also know that person is going to be handling this.


Another thing is deadlines. Internal and external deadlines can affect this. So one example which i encountered pretty often is the client would certainly say, “Hey, we really need this particular project done by next Mon because we’re launching another effort. We’re doing a TV commercial, plus our domain is going to be listed on the TELEVISION commercial. So I’d really like these products wrapped up when those advertisements go live. ”

So those kind of external deadlines can affect how quickly we have to function. A lot of times it just gets remaining by the wayside because it is not an extremely visible thing. If you don’t know the significance of redirects, you might handle things like articles and making sure the buttons many work and the template looks nice things like that, the visible stuff. Where people assume that redirects, oh yea, that’s just a backend thing. We are able to take care of it later. Unfortunately, diverts usually fall into that category when the person doing it doesn’t really understand the importance of it.

One more thing with deadlines is internal deadlines. Sometimes maybe you might have a deadline day for a quarterly game or a month-to-month game. We have to have all of our tasks done by this date. Exactly the same thing with the deadlines. The redirects are often unfortunately something that tends to miss the particular cutoff for those types of things.

Non-SEOs handling the redirection

Then another scenario that can cause site migration mistakes and 404s after moving around is definitely non-SEOs handling this. Now you do not have to be a really experienced SEO generally to handle these types of things. It depends in your CMS and how complicated is the method that you’re implementing your redirects. Yet sometimes if it’s easy, if your CMS makes redirection easy, it can be taken care of as like a data entry-type associated with job, and it can be delegated in order to someone who maybe doesn’t know the significance of doing all of them or formatting all of them properly or directing them to the particular places that they’re supposed to go.

The rules of redirection meant for site migrations

Those people are all situations that I’ve came across issues with. So now that we type of know what I’m talking about with migrations and why they kind of occasionally still happen, I’m going to launch into several rules that will hopefully help prevent web site migration errors because of failed diverts.

1 . Create one-to-one redirects

Number one, often create one-to-one redirects. This is extremely important. What I’ve seen occasionally is oh, man, it could conserve me tons of time if I simply use a wildcard and redirect many of these pages to the homepage or to your blog homepage or something like that. Yet what that tells Google is the fact that Page A has moved to Web page B, whereas that’s not the case. You aren’t moving all of these pages to the home page. They haven’t actually moved right now there. So it’s an irrelevant redirect, plus Google has even said, I believe, that they treat those essentially being a soft 404 . They don’t actually count. So make sure you don’t do this. Make sure you’re always linking LINK to its new location, one-to-one every single time for every URL that’s shifting.

2 . Watch out for refocus chains

Two, look out for chains. I think Google says some thing oddly specific, like watch out for refocus chains, three, no more than five . Simply try to limit it as much as possible. Simply by chains, I mean you have URL The, and then you redirect it in order to B, and then later you decide to proceed it to a third location. Rather than doing this and going through a middleman, A to B to C, shorten this if you can. Go straight from the source towards the destination, A to C.

3. Watch out for loops

Three, watch out for loops. Likewise what can happen is you redirect placement A to URL B to a different version C and then back to The. What happens is it’s chasing the tail. It will never resolve, therefore you’re redirecting it in a cycle. So watch out for things like that. A good way to check those things I think is a great tool, Screaming Frog includes a redirect chains report. So you can find out if you’re kind of encountering any of individuals issues after you’ve implemented your diverts.

4. 404 smartly

Number four, 404 strategically. The presence of 404s on your web site alone, that is not going to hurt your own site’s rankings. It is letting web pages die that were ranking and getting your site traffic that is going to cause problems. Obviously, if a page is 404ing, eventually Google is going to take that will out of the index if you don’t redirect this to its new location. When that page was ranking very well, if it was bringing your site visitors, you’re going to lose the benefits of it. If this had links to it, you’re going to shed the benefits of that backlink if it passes away.

So if you’re going to 404, just do it strategically. You can let webpages die. Like in these situations, probably you’re just outright deleting a webpage and it has no new location, absolutely nothing relevant to redirect it to. Absolutely okay. Just know that you’re going to shed any of the benefits that URL has been bringing your site.

five. Prioritize “SEO valuable” URLs

Number five, prioritize “SEO valuable” URLs, and I do that since I prefer to obviously redirect anything that you’re moving, everything that’s legally moving.

But due to situations like deadlines and such things as that, when we’re down to the particular wire, I think it’s really important to a minimum of have started out with your most important Web addresses. So those are URLs which are ranking really well, giving you a lot of great traffic, URLs that you’ve earned hyperlinks to. So those really SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION valuable URLs, if you have a deadline day and you don’t get to finish all of your diverts before this project goes reside, at least you have those most critical, most significant URLs handled first.

Again, obviously, it’s not ideal, I actually don’t think in my mind, to save any till after the launch. Obviously, I think it is best to have them all set up by the time it will go live. But if that’s not the case plus you’re getting rushed and you have in order to launch, at least you will have handled the most crucial URLs for SEO value.

6. Test!

Number six, just to end this off, test. I think it’s extremely important just to monitor these things, since you could think that you have set all of these up right, but maybe there were a few formatting errors, or maybe you wrongly redirected something to the wrong location. It is super important just to check. So what you can do, you can do a site: site. com and just start clicking on all of the results that come up and see when any are redirecting to the incorrect place, maybe they’re 404ing.

Just checking all of those found URLs to make sure that they’re going to a proper brand new destination. I think Moz’s Site Crawl is another huge benefit in charge of testing purposes. What it does, if you have a website set up or an URL set up in the campaign in Moz Pro, this checks this every week, and you can drive another run if you want it in order to.

But it will check out your site for errors like this, 404s namely. So if there are any problems like that, 500 or 400 kind errors, Site Crawl will capture it and notify you. In case you are not managing the domain that you are currently working on in a campaign in Moz Pro, there’s on-demand crawl as well. So you can run that on any kind of domain that you’re working on to test regarding things like that.

There are many other ways you can test and find errors. However the most important thing to remember is just to accomplish, just to test and make sure that even once you have implemented these things, that you’re checking plus making sure that there are no issues following a launch. I would check right after the launch and then a couple of days later, then just kind of taper off till you’re absolutely positive that every thing has gone smoothly.

Therefore those are my tips, those people are my rules for tips on how to implement redirects properly, why you need to, when you really need to, and the risks that can take place with that. If you have any tips of your that you’d like to share, pop all of them in the comments and share it effortlessly us in the SEO community. Which it for this week’s Whiteboard Fri.

Come back again in a few days for another one. Thanks, everybody.

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