Changing URLs and Broken Redirects
I recently published an article in Search Engine Journal entitled “The Hidden Risk of Broken Redirect“. It was probably poorly named. Better is “How Changing URL Structures Can Kill Traffic”.
I say hidden, because who knows how many time redirects have been removed months after a URL change and historic, valuable links have gone away? I got burned by this badly following a site migration early in my career and I talk about it in the article. This is whyI generally recommend against changing URLs unless they are truly horrible (or better yet, get them right initially).
In SEORadar we have a redirect tester. You can create a list of URLs and we will continue to ping them on a regular basis until you tell us to stop! If they change in any way (404, 302, extra hop) we will send you an alert. This is absolutely why we built this feature into SEORadar. I felt it was a must-have. To be honest, it is an under-utilized feature.
It’s easy to set up. Simply go to the manage->redirect testing option from the main menu or click here. Paste in a list of the old, original URLs. In the first audit, we will generate a report of all URLs that are redirecting. After, that, we will continue to ping those URLs and any change in state will generate an alert.
One caveat with the current version of this feature, the redirect tester is not domain specific and thus the alerts will go to all users. We are working on a remedy for that situation.
If URLs change that we are already monitoring in SEORadar, then there is no need to set up this monitoring. We always trace a URL as originally configured and generate an alert if there is a change in HTTP status or redirect chain.
Links are still precious and harder than ever to come by. Don’t the value of those links. So my recommendation is this: if you have changed URLs structures, especially to link-worthy content, put in some sort of mechanism (SEORadar or a custom script or something else). Links are precious – make sure they stay active!!