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One of our staff, Kristen Stanton, pointed out an article about an issue that most people do not take into consideration when we make changes to our site(s). "One of the most common SEO mistakes website owners make"
The article deals with how to deal with traffic that comes from the SERPS (Search Engine Results Page) if we change an URL and keeping any link juice we already have.
Since automotive dealer websites are fairly static how does this really effect us? If your site's architecture remains constantly static and you do not build internal landing pages that are optimized SEO wise it may be a moot point, but even if you make a simple change of an url from http://anyoldsite.com/specials.php to http://anyoldsite.com/hot-specials.php to coincide with other marketing efforts you need to consider what happens to the traffic for first url and any link juice it already has.
More often than not it is redirected to the home page of your site or it finds the dreaded 404 Error - Not Found. What is the surfer thinking when they hit that instead of your specials page? Have you maximized your opportunity based on the trust that the surfer gave you when they clicked on your link?
Apparently the search engine is thinking this is the most relevant page to show surfers based on their query. More often than not this is due to other links to your first specials page coming in from other sites. This is what search engines use to determine what is the most relevant results.
The good news is you can change a url and all of the effective link juice passed to it from other websites if you set up a 301 redirect which tells the search engine your content has moved and pushes your conversion, yes a click through is a conversion, to the right place.
Remember if you change an URL makes sure your website provider sets up a valid 301 redirect or shows you how to do it.