Got a question on a very common SEO issue from entrepreneur Drew Knapp, founder of A Greater Town. I introduced A Greater Town earlier in a post titled A Greater Town offers followed links and helps you rank locally.
The question had to do with a very common occurrence. People are used to accessing a site’s home page without anything after the .com except maybe a slash. For example, my domain name is cathyreisenwitz.com. So people expect to access my home page by typing in cathyreisenwitz.com. Likewise, they are likely to link to me using that address.
But say my actual home page lived on cathyreisenwitz.com/default.asp, or cathyreisenwitz.com/home, or cathyreisenwitz.com/global? Well, some people would navigate to my home page and grab the URL in the address bar to link to me. Others would just look at my domain name and link to me that way.
Result? Since Google sees cathyreisenwitz.com/ and cathyreisenwitz.com/default.asp as two different pages, my link juice, or authority, is split between those two pages. So I have two weak pages instead of one strong one. Bummer!
The fix is to 301 redirect from one URL to the other. It’s the same solution with the same rationale as the www-versus-non-www problem that I’ve written about previously. Pick one and go with it.
So Drew took my advice and 301 redirected http://www.agreatertown.com to http://www.agreatertown.com/global. But he still had questions.
Here’s some of the e-mail I got from Drew:
Now that we made the change you suggested [the 301], can you see any impact on http://www.agreatertown.com from the links which point to http://www.agreatertown.com/global?
It seems we have many links more pointing to the [the /global URL]:
He was concerned because it appeared the problem of split authority persisted even after the change.
What he was seeing is that existing links are still split between http://www.agreatertown.com and http://www.agreatertown.com/global. That’s going to be the case. A 301 redirect does not go onto other sites and change the URL that site links to. That’s one reason it’s important to get this SEO stuff right, especially URLs, when you build a site.
So, if you analyze a URL with a 301 redirect on it with Open Site Explorer, OSE will show links to that URL, not to the final destination URL. It will give you a warning that you’re looking up links to a 301 redirected URL, and ask you if you want to see data for the final destination URL.
The difference between what OSE shows and Google is that now with your 301 in place http://www.agreatertown.com/global gets most of the benefit of the links pointing to http://www.agreatertown.com/. It’s not a 1-to-1 authority transfer. Some is authority is lost from one URL to the other in the redirect. For that reason, again, set it up right in the beginning. But, enough is transferred to make it worth implementing the 301.
So, webmasters, don’t despair. The fact that OSE is showing that some people link to one URL and others to another doesn’t mean your 301 didn’t work.
Anyone got any more fascinating SEO questions? Let me know in the comments and you can be the next lucky winner to have your question answered in-depth in a blog post of your very own.
Photo via Travis S.