CASE STUDY: High Profile Site Loses Traffic After Launch
SunGard is one of the world’s leading hosting and IT companies with 75,000 customers in 70 countries and hosting server farms around the world. During a migration to a new website, SunGard witnessed a huge “mysterious” drop in website traffic.
Examining the problem I found that the source was a common simple error in how pages were redirected. The programmers (who launched the new site) used 302 redirects instead of SEO-friendly 301 redirects to tell the search engines the pages had moved. This was a costly error.
A Common (But Costly) Site Transfer Mistake
While both redirects provide the same experience to the user – users who try to visit the old site are forwarded to pages on the new site – they tell the search engines different things.
A 302 redirect is a temporary redirect. It tells the search engines to look at the new page for content but to also check the original URL first as it is only temporarily removed and will be returning.
A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect. It tells the search engines that the old location is to be removed from their index and replaced with a new location.
In this case the new location receives the “link juice” from the previous location (URL) making a 301 redirect the most SEO-friendly way to redirect traffic and link power.
Know It: Technical Mistakes Can Sink Your SEO
This case study highlights how important small technical details are in SEO success. While most of SEO is about content creation and strategy, a mistake at the technical level can scuttle your best efforts. In the case with SunGard, fixing this little problem took just minutes but may have literally meant thousands of dollars in daily revenues.