Hands off new URLs! Why you should never change your old URLs
New URL, new luck? No way! A website relaunch can be a huge SEO dilemma. Experience shows that new website addresses are not popular with search engines. Changing a URL can therefore be risky. We explain why here. You can read the summary at the end of the article.
Changing an existing URL - here are the SEO risks
Search engines like old website addresses better than new URLs. Why? Imagine that Google is a little leprechaun: it busily collects data about websites, compares content from competitors and evaluates streams of visitors. The industrious leprechaun invests an incredible amount of time to form an opinion about a website. He wants to know exactly: What is it about? Do users find the content interesting? Do the authors know what they are writing about? Is the expertise confirmed by real experts? These are all questions that drive the leprechaun. If it then has a positive impression of the website, it plays it out high up in the search results as a thank-you.
If you now change a URL or carry out a complete website relaunch, this can undo your previous SEO successes. Because now the leprechaun starts to waver and thinks: What kind of page is this again? Is the information coherent and relevant? What is behind this new URL? Unfortunately, this confusion will result in a poorer performance of the page. The search engine has to warm up to the new URL and puts it through its paces. It will only end up at the top of the hit list when the gremlin is sure that it is a valuable page. This SEO risk always exists when you change a URL and applies to every single subpage of your website.
Tips for more sustainable, SEO-friendly URLs
When you set up a homepage, you should plan the complete URL structure in advance. Consider very carefully whether you can live well with these designations for the coming years. Define a separate keyword for each subpage that is chosen so that it will not change again according to season or need.
For individual sub-pages as well as blog articles, you can avoid constant changes by using only very general keywords from the outset. For example, if you report on the most beautiful spring flowers every year, then always use the same URL with the keyword "spring flowers" for this article. Overwrite the texts every year so that only the current article can be found at the same address. In this way, you save the leprechaun the work of checking your hobby gardening knowledge again every year.
Emergency scenario website relaunch
You should generally only give up a domain name in an emergency. This is where the highest SEO risk exists. If your product plate changes fundamentally or your company name, new URLs are sometimes unavoidable. However, introduce changes creepily. Refer to old brand or company names in reference texts and at least stick to particularly well-visited URLs. Create a connection between the old and new URLs with automatic redirects for each subpage that Google can also follow. This way you help the leprechaun to orientate itself and get used to the new situation.
Always weigh the benefits and risks thoroughly: a well-founded and SEO-friendly website relaunch, taking into account a well-thought-out URL structure, can ultimately also lead to improved rankings.
In a nutshell:
- Before publishing your homepage, plan the entire URL structure in an SEO-friendly way to avoid later changes
- Changing a URL always carries an SEO risk, as Google has to check the page again
- URLs that Google has already rated as good should remain unchanged if possible
- Overwrite old posts again and again rather than constantly creating new URLs
- A website relaunch can be dangerous, especially if the domain name is changed.
- However, new SEO-friendly URLs may be necessary in justified cases; you should always introduce changes creepily
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