Mapping Content Moves
When you move your content you will want to preserve as much link authority and traffic from the old URL’s as possible, while providing the best possible user experience for people who arrive at the old URL’s.
The first thing to do is to get a complete map of your information architecture with full URLs. (Trust me when I say that during this process it is imperative that there are no typo’s!) The potential for old URLS’s pointing to 404’s and not the intended new URL is definitely up there and it’s not a good experience for anyone!
Look at which content will be moved where and which content will be removed altogether! Be very thorough when determining whether or now you should get rid of some URLS’s as they may actually have a great deal of link juice.
Other than the very painstaking manual way of checking your current site architecture you also need to look at any old lurking URL’s that may potentially be causing damage. Use a combination of the following (and create an alphabetically organised spreadsheet!)
- I recommend using a free crawling tool such as Screaming Frog. The only problem with this is that there is a limit of URL’s it will crawl in the free version. The paid version is great and well worth the money.
- Extract a list of URL’s from your web servers log files and site architecture documentation if you can get your hands on it and the web developer actually knows what you’re asking for!
- Extract the list from your XML sitemap, provided you believe it’s reasonably complete – to be honest I wouldn’t rely on this fully unless you’ve built it yourself or can completely understand how it’s been developed.
- Use a combination of Google Search Console and MOZ’s Open Site Explorer to gain as much information into the external links to your site to make sure that all pages that have received links are included.
- Check Bing Webmaster Tools Index Explorer to find all crawlable URL’s that you may not know still exist on the site.
- How to use Screaming Frog to extract a list of URL’s
- How to extract a list of URL’s from your web server.
- How to use Search Console to see external links
- How to use MOZ’s Open Site Explorer
How to deal with eliminated pages
If you have URL’s with products that you no longer carry, you would more thank likely want to redirect them to the closest existing products that you have.
If there is no sufficient replacements for a product or ‘thing’ you may choose to redirect that one to a parent page for that topic area.