Things are looking up. You've written the perfect article: it contains authoritative content, expertise in your chosen field, and exhibits trustworthiness. We spend a lot of time researching keywords, phrases and optimizing for search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO). However, you can ruin all of that with just a few clicks, namely by changing your URL. Let's see how changing URLs affect SEO scores and your web traffic.
Can Changing URLs Affect Your SEO?
Changing the URL for your site can drastically impact your content. Not to mention the reach of your SEO efforts.
Instead of reaching the top ten in Google's search engine results pages, a changed URL structure negatively affects your site's 'health.' This, in turn, adversely affects Google's indexing possibilities for your content.
This means that carelessly changing the structure of your site and URL can redirect users to 404 pages. In short, broken links and redirects take you out of the running—all of that hard SEO work gone in a few keystrokes.
The bottom line? Don't change a page's URL unless you have to. Let's dig into why you may need to change your URL and what you can do to maintain a good SEO score.
URL Change and SEO: What to Avoid
So, what's the number one rule to follow?
- Never change your URL unless you absolutely need to. This means changing your website, and URL structure is key to serving your business.
- Leave dynamic URLs alone. While it's a myth that Google can't crawl dynamic URLs, rewriting them can incur a hefty penalty in traffic. This is another thing that webmasters need to be careful of when changing them to static URLs.
While Google is pretty efficient, it still takes a lot of time to update SEO when your website changes. I know, it's frustrating. Especially after you've spent hours, maybe days optimizing content to appear on Google SERPs. Frankly, it's a hassle.
We expect Google to be this futuristic resource that knows all is capable of anything. But like anything else, it needs some help getting there.
But we can't always avoid changing URLs. Sometimes, we need to partake in site migration, overhauls, and developing new aspects of your business or site. It could be something as simple as simple house cleaning, like redirecting old links to new content. For example, an old blog has dated references (like then-current events), and you need to update it in the best way you can.
URL Structure Change and SEO: What To Do to Maintain a Top Rank
Okay, so you absolutely need to change your URL and website structure. What now?
Where it gets tricky is maintaining good SEO when updating URLs. Here are some quick tips to minimize the hit to your ranking.
Domain Research: Do some research on the domain. For example, if the domain you're using has site health issues like broken and dead links, you'll need to do some heavy lifting. Getting rid of these nuisances sets the stage for good SEO.
301 Redirects: 301 redirects are special tools to help Google along with the indexing process. 301 redirects tell both Google and your website visitors that the URL is in a new place. Instead of dead-ending your site, people can visit your new site from your old one. This is a great strategy to use if you're looking for a more seamless transition. And who isn't?
Use SEO and Site Tools for Better Rankings
Luckily, you're not alone when you're attempting to solve these problems. There are so many useful SEO tools and others that check for dead links, crawl your website for spam and 404 pages. Here are some great tools to check out:
- SEMrush: SEMrush, along with being an excellent writing tool and SEO keyword resource, SEMrush can be your answer to your URL problems. SEMrush crawls your website for all the potential issues and gives you a detailed diagnosis. From here, it's time to get to work fixing errors and internal linking problems.
- Ahrefs: Ahrefs is another popular SEO resource. Along with having a first-rate keyword explorer for top-of-the-line keyword research, it does a deep dive into your website's health. It shows everything, from broken links, drops in web traffic and spam. Most importantly, it shows what's currently holding your site back from making it to the top of the Google SERPs.
It's common for sites to experience a drop in web traffic after a change in URL. Regardless of how good the content is, keep that in mind. It has to do with Google indexing and getting acclimated to the changes. The key is preparing for the inevitable dip in traffic and getting that SEO needle pointed toward progress instead of losing SEO impact.
Final Thoughts on How Changing URLs Affect SEO
Having a good SEO score can make the difference between obscurity and showing up consistently in search engines. You can quickly put all that hard work on the chopping block by changing your URL, frivolously or otherwise.
Remember, don't change your URL structure unless absolutely crucial to the success of your site and business. If you need to, keep your SEO in check with 301 redirects, site crawling, and solid anchor text and links.
Hopefully, by using our tips, you can be smart about changing your URL and maintain an essential and authoritative presence for your niche for a long time. After all, the information you have is something consumers want to read. So tread lightly and do your due diligence for a solid SEO score.