By Leanne Dempsey

The importance of redirections when migrating a website

May 29th, 2024
4 min read

There are many reasons why you might choose to build a new website. Perhaps you want to upgrade your technology, move to a more secure platform, are having a rebrand, your website is outdated, or something else entirely.

Whatever your reason for deciding to rebuild your website rather than giving it a refresh, making sure you migrate your old website to it properly is key. A core part of a website migration is redirecting the URLs from your old website to their corresponding page on your new website.

But what is a redirection and why are they important? Below we’re discussing the importance of redirections when migrating a website.

What is a redirection?

Redirections in the context of a website work just like when you move house and redirect your post from your old address to your new address. The redirection set up with Royal Mail ensures that your letters find you at your new house and you don’t miss anything important. 

Similarly, a redirection from one website to another helps users and search engines to find the new location of the content they’re looking for.

There are many types of redirections that can be used for various purposes. For a website migration where the old website no longer exists however, it is a permanent ‘301’ redirect that would need to be used.

The benefits of using 301 redirections

Having a robust redirection plan in place has many benefits including: 

Mitigates traffic loss – as with any migration you may experience a drop in website traffic, however having redirections in place can help to minimise disruptions to traffic flow.

Supports user experience – having the correct redirections in place means that users can find new pages easily, and there is a reduction in 404 ‘page not found’ errors.

SEO preservation – redirections help search engines understand where your content now exists, this can help maintain search engine rankings and pass existing authority over to your new URLs.

The risks of not implementing redirections

The risks of now implementing redirections during a website migration are vast, but include:

Loss of traffic – 301 redirections not being properly implemented can lead to a loss of traffic, where users are hitting a 404 page rather than the content they want to see. For many businesses this can lead to a loss of revenue, which is not what you want just after investing in a new website!

Decreased user experience – if redirections are not mapped appropriately, users may end up on content pages that they weren’t expecting. And if redirects are not included at all, they will end up on a 404 page – both of which provide a frustrating experience for your users.

Negative SEO impact – if search engines cannot find your new content, they cannot index it, and if authority is not passed from the old URL your new webpage may be significantly less visible than the previous one.

The redirection implementation process

When implementing redirections during a website migration, there are a few steps and teams involved. For example, it is likely that your user experience team will define the information architecture (IA), SEO will define the URL structures to coincide with the IA and create the redirection map (well, more of a spreadsheet really…) and development will implement the redirections.

Once redirections are implemented it is important that they are tested in the staging environment before the website is launched. 404 pages should be monitored when the new website is live to pick up on any missed redirections.

Get support with your website rebuild

We discussed the importance of involving SEO in any website rebuild project in our Masterclass, How not to fall off Google with your new website, where we go into more detail about how both teams work together for a successful website migration. Or, if you're sure its time to build a new website and you're looking for an experienced agency to help make your dreams a reality, don't hesitate to get in touch or book a call.

Leanne Dempsey

Head of SEO

With over 10 years of experience in many industries including financial services, retail, travel and non-profit, our Head of SEO Leanne is keen on getting under the bonnet of your website to discover what might be halting growth whilst generating long term plans to grow highly relevant website traffic from organic search.