I had been doing the link building for one of my clients for a little over two years. Not to pat myself on the back, but there were a lot of good, quality links pointing to this site. At the beginning of the link building campaign I laid out a strategy (as I do for all my clients) to help me stay focused and keep my link building efforts diversified. The site was doing incredibly well, ranking on the first page of Google for all its keywords and getting thousands of unique visitors a month. Their conversion rate was up; so was their profit margin. All in all, things were looking pretty good for my client.
Then they dropped a bomb on me. Without consulting (or even notifying) me first, they ditched their old side for a brand new site (and domain name) that had a more “modern” feel to it. I was flabbergasted. Their old domain had been online for several years, so it had a really good trust factor with the search engines. Not to mention that two years of link building went right down the drain.
One day my client called me and wanted to know why they had all these error messages in their Google Analytics account. I logged in and was shocked at what I saw. They lost well over 75% of their traffic, had dropped to the depths of the search results and every single link I had ever made pointed to nowhere. All those error messages were from Google telling my client they had links that lead to broken/nonexistent pages. There were thousands of them!
If you want to create a new domain for your company, that is completely within your right as the site owner. But please, before you scrap the old site, make sure you do a 301 redirect of all the incoming links to your old site and reroute them to the appropriate pages of your new site. By redirecting those links, you are transferring their link juice over to your new site, which helps its trust factor. Since your new domain is so young, the search engines haven’t had time to let age be a factor.
Having a lot of errors from broken links also looks bad in the eyes of the search engines. It can negatively impact your rank. Plus, you don’t want potential visitors being directed to a page that no longer exists! How can someone shop for your product when they can’t even get through to your site? Most users aren’t going to take the time to find a new path to your site; you’ll lose them to a competitor.
A 301 redirect is a relatively simple thing to do and it can save you so much time and effort in the long run. Don’t let your link building go to waste when you move to a new site or delete old pages. Redirect the links and it’ll be much easier to carry on.