Over the years, your old website has probably gained loads of incoming links from other websites.
These links do two things. They help people find your site from other websites, which gives you traffic. Plus, they also help improve your SEO – your search engine optimisation, which helps you get better search engine results.
So, if you are building a new website, you need to take very good care of them!
The problem with not migrating links
Your new website often has new content, new navigation, and a new URL structure. If you just replace your old website with your new one, you run the risk of losing these great incoming links. When people click on these links from an outside website, they will just end up on dead 404 pages saying “sorry, we seem to have lost this link!”
Google doesn’t like that too much. Your site could drop in PageRank (how much Google likes your site). And you also might lose SERPs (appearing in search results) on important keywords. The end result could be a massive drop in traffic which will take ages to get back.
The 301 solution for link love
One way to prevent that is to use a 301 redirect. This is a bit of techy stuff that redirects people to a new, correct page. This way, you don’t lose traffic. Or PageRank.
As a marketer, this is not something that you should do yourself. But you absolutely should consider it when building a new website. That way you can be sure that you don’t face an uphill battle with traffic, PageRank or SERPs when you launch.
Your IT department should be able to help. If you want to brief your IT department in some more depth, the below graph from Chris Moore explains the process very clearly. So, just forward this blog post to them.
Good luck with your new site! And thanks for the graph, Chris.