How Broken Redirects Negatively Affected Our Organic Traffic

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  1. My years of experience have exposed me to a lot of SEO problems that just never needed to occur in the first place. One of the most memorable of those issues dealt with URL redirects.
  2. URL issues often go undetected. They can really wreak havoc, and make you vulnerable to a host of additional problems. What you don't know can hurt you.
  3. After URL changes, such as migrations, redirects are implemented to conserve SEO functionality and link equity. In a nutshell, good URLs will replace the bad URLs.
  4. If a broken redirect is happening, it is because there is an error and it is pointing to the wrong place. These are easier to prevent than they are to fix, so the best case scenario is to avoid them in the first place. Being proactive in this can save you a lot of time and frustration.
  5. Broken redirects pose a huge threat to your page ranking, due to the fact that external links coming into a page no longer count toward that page. Like a disease, the damage can spread to the rest of the site.
  6. Unfortunately, this problem is not a rare occurrence. In fact, many websites are at risk. The tough part in handling this issue is that often, the root of the issue isn't easy to pinpoint. Things may look normal on the surface, making it nearly impossible to discover what's causing the error.
  7. I found out first hand that this can have an absolutely devastating impact on your organic traffic.
  8. I was initially tipped off about the problem when, one morning, while enjoying my breakfast, I noticed a traffic drop of a few percentage points.
  9. While it didn't look great, I wasn't too worried. “No big deal,” I thought.
  10. My concern soon turned to dread, as we dipped into a 20 percent traffic loss. At this point, I knew we had a big problem on our hands.
  11. The elusive culprit just could not be found. Everything on the site looked, to my trained eye, like business as usual. That is, until I had a very telling conversation with our lead engineer, who informed me that he had taken it upon himself, after our migration, to take down a bunch of redirects.
  12. As upset as I was about this, it was really my own fault. I was the one in charge of making sure our vulnerability didn't get compromised.
  13. When our company did a massive migration, everything seemed flawless. As the head of SEO, I was thrilled to not only see no loss of traffic, but growth! This was thanks to good redirects.
  14. However, once those were gone, Google started to punish us for our mistakes, causing a massive decline in traffic.
  15. Don't let this happen to you. Even though it may be hard to detect once it has started, there are steps you can take to prevent this hardship.
  16. First off, don't change URL structures if you can get around it.
  17. Next, create good URLs from the beginning.
  18. Avoid stress by not changing URLs if it's not a true need. If it's absolutely necessary, be vigilant and make sure they're done right. Educating the entire team is key in avoiding mistakes.
  19. Finally, frequently testing URLs can help protect you against the tragedy I discussed today.
  20. I write this in hopes of saving just one person from the headache I outlined for you above. Preserve your traffic and Google ranking by being vigilant in protecting your links.
  21. What Are Redirect Chains? Explanation With Visuals
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