Every few years or so businesses like to update or refresh the look of their web site.
This can be a good idea, but it’s important from an SEO perspective not to waste the authority and PageRank of all the old pages.
You see, Google treats each page as a unique SEO entity and each entity may rank differently for different search terms.
Bottom line is when you update your web site, or change the names of the pages in your site, make sure you use a bit of magic called a 301 redirect to tell Google and the other search engines that the page has changed its name or moved.
Here’s an example for a fictitious business with a web site named hotcurryhosting.com
Let’s say there is a web page on the site that ranks well for cheap hosting packages, has a PageRank of 3 and the url of this page is http://hotcurryhosting.com/cheap-hosting-packages.html
The owner of hotcurryhosting has decided to upgrade to the WordPress content management system and now the new page name is http://hotcurryhosting.com/cheap-hosting-packages/
From a Google point of view this is a totally new page even though the content is exactly the same and it has exactly the same page meta data.
To tell Google that the old page has a new address and to pass on the PageRank and page authority to the new page, here are the steps:
1. Create or find a file on your web hosting named .htaccess (this assumes you have standard Linux hosting)
2. Add lines of code to the top of the .htaccess file that looks like this:
redirect 301 /cheap-hosting-packages.html http://hotcurryhosting.com/cheap-hosting-packages/
3. For each old page, add another line to the .htaccess file in the format above
4. Save the .htaccess file
5. Enter the old web page addresses into your browser and make sure you end up at the correct corresponding new page
That’s it. Job done. In as little as a week or so the new pages will replace the old pages in the search results AND eventually they will take on the PageRank of those old pages.