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Don't Move That. Seriously.

July 31, 2008  

Beyond key words, beyond placement tactics, there is one unchangeable Golden Rule of SEO for content, according to Ray "Catfish" Comstock: Once you create online content, don't move it.

"I used to think that this was obvious," Comstock says. "… But I found that there are many clients that still do not know [this] single most important SEO strategy for content." Don't, that is, change the URL where your content lives.

Comstock say some internal content management systems and production systems cause URLs to move (change) after a certain amount of time. He recalls a client with such a system who "couldn't understand why their search listings kept fluctuating so much." Once they realized their own system was doing it, they "developed a migration strategy for their content."

Comstock says that a good migration strategy requires "setting up a 301 redirect" from the old URL to the new one.

"[C]hanging your URLs disconnects your link connectivity unless you implement 301 redirects," he explains. "Search engine rankings, especially those of Google, are hugely dependent on links, especially relevant external links. But moving the content means that any links that you might have had are no longer seen unless you implement [the] redirect." So if you must move it, link it!

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