url redirects in shopify

301 Redirects For Shopify

Below is a video I recorded on the topic above. Below that is a transcription of the video. It's probably just easier to watch the video....

Hey guys, Jono from EcomX SEO here, hope everyone's going well this week with all the craziness around the world.

Just had a question in the Facebook group about how to deal with ... or the question was particularly about changing a theme and consolidating pages and products, and how to deal with that without losing any existing traffic. There's many different reasons you might want to remove products or change products or consolidate different pieces of a site or a store into other areas. So for example, let's say you've got a very well selling brand of a particular product, and that brand stops manufacturing that particular product, but you find another brand that does the same product, but you want to make sure you don't lose all that existing traffic you had to that product page.

So there's we can deal with that, and you could just change the content on the particular product page and maintain the existing product page. So you essentially swap out the brands. The problem with that is most times in the URL, which is a little more permanent in a Shopify store. And then on any site that you probably more than likely will have the brand name in the URL. So then you wouldn't be able to just change out the content on the page because the old brand will still be in the URL. So that's one reason you might want to do it possibly.

There's a new version of a product has come out and you just want to consolidate into a new product and make sure you get some more of the new product features into the URL. Because as we know, the URL is extremely important for our optimization. So there's many, many different reasons. So I'm just going to start at the basic level in this group, there's a lot of people who are just starting. So some of this stuff is new, and some of you are all over this stuff and are very experienced, so I'm just going to go through the basics of it, just for those who don't know much about it and they're just learning.

So, let's say in example where you're going to create a brand new product page because the old brand has stopped making that product. And that product page is indexed in Google with that particular URL. If you just deleted that product, so stop selling it all together and created a new product, then what happens is that URL will stay in Google's index for a period of time. It can be up to, I've seen them stay in the index up to three months, but generally a few weeks they'll stay in the index. If they click on that URL from a browser, it will go to what's called a 404 page and that's essentially telling the user and also Google, as the Google bots come in, that this page does not exist anymore.

And then what will essentially happen more than likely the user will click away and go to another site, because what they were looking for is not there. They may navigate to other areas of your site, but it's just not a great user experience in any sense. And because Google comes in and sees a 404 it's not a good signal for Google either. So there's a number of different ways we can deal with that, and they're called redirects. Now, what a redirect is, is a protocol for browsers. And then it's universal with Google as well. If you set up a redirect, physically what happens is when someone clicks on that link in the search engines and that link you may have dispersed elsewhere around the net.

So for example, in your social media profiles, it might be on another blog post. If someone wrote about your product, and they're not going to know that the URL has changed. So what happens is, someone clicks on it and it will re physically redirect them to the new page. Now there's a number of different redirects, but the most common one to use is called a 301 redirect, which is a permanent redirect. And what this basically does physically, it will redirect the user, but then also for Google and any other bots that are coming in, it tells the algorithm that it's a permanent 301 redirect and this is where the new page is.

But not only does it redirect the user, it redirects all the elements and the metrics of the old page to your new page. So if you have a heap of external links pointing to the old product page, internal links pointing to your product page, if you're getting 100 visitors today to that product, you'll be able to redirect those visitors through. So you maintain all the benefits you have of that product page to the new product page. So it's really important. We still get a lot of clients come in and they change products and they just delete them, which is number one, it's a missed opportunity, but you also can create problems because you end up with a heap of 404 pages.

And even though they drop out of the index over a period of time, Google still sees those 404 pages, and it's just not a great signal for them. So, you don't really want any URLs anywhere that that are not live. So you want to have that redirect set up. Luckily, it's really easy to do. Shopify, they didn't have it initially, but Shopify has a native 301 redirect set up and I'll go through that in a second. You can redirect more than one page to another page, and you can do this externally as well. So you can redirect essentially any page from any website, if you own that.

So if you have access to to the site, you can redirect that page to another site. So you can even redirect to someone else's page or URL if you need to. So it's very flexible. You just need access to basically the editing side of a particular site or of a store. There's a couple of things you just need to keep in mind though. You want to try and keep the relevancy of what you're redirecting from, to what you're redirecting to. So, let's say you've got a collection, you've got a general store, and you've got one collection that you want to re that you're not selling anymore, you don't want to redirect all that non-relevant traffic and non-relevant metrics to a completely new collection that's got nothing to do with that category.

So you just need to be a little bit careful about that. What would make more sense in that case is to create, for example a blog post about the old category, redirect that collection page or the category page to the blog post so you still maintain that traffic coming to the store, and you're still providing relevant information, but you're not necessarily selling that product. So, you just need to be a little bit careful how you deal with them. And the same with products, don't redirect from a product that's completely irrelevant to a new product.

Then if you're consolidating content or creating new products there's also that opportunity to re optimize that new page. So you can go away and do and be strategic about how you're going to create that. If you're setting up a new page to tweak the optimization, or if you're redirecting to an existing page, you can look at the optimization of that as well. So it has a number of different benefits. Now, any time you're doing a large number of 301 redirects or changing and the structure of your store significantly, or your site significantly, more than likely there's going to be some fluctuations in traffic and changes, and some traffic will drop off.

You'll pick up traffic elsewhere, but if you do it correctly, with all the things I've spoken about, generally you can maintain that traffic, and if you do it well, you can generally increase the exposure you get within Google. So now we'll go over to Shopify and really simple to do. So if you're say on a WordPress site you'd use a plugin, or you can even do it in what's called the HT access file on the server. With Shopify, the only way we've got access to do it is through the [inaudible 00:08:40] or there's actually two ways. You can use apps, but there's no need really to use apps unless you're doing them in bulk, because Shopify has a native way of doing it.

So down here in the search engine listing preview, this is where the URL is and this is what is going to be a changed. So let's say if you change the URL here, you'll see this dialog box pop up, and there's a checkbox. So, when you change URL, if you change URL of an existing collection, existing product, you can select this checkbox here. And then, so what we'll do just to show you at work. So that's our existing URL. So I'm just going to just going to copy the whole URL, put it in a notepad file. And then I'm just going to change the URL, select the redirect and then click save.

And then we'll grab that URL. Now, if we go back to the old URL, what should happen, and it sometimes doesn't happen in Shopify. And I'll explain that in a second, we put the old URL in the browser, and then redirect, and then you can see it redirects to the new URL. So now that 301 redirect is set up correctly. Now sometimes, depending on what theme you're using it, this doesn't work with Shopify. So what you need to do is go to ... and this is what I always check, go to Online Store, then go to Navigation, and you can see up here, the second code URL redirects. I click on that, and here you can actually see the URL redirects.

And if it doesn't work, more than likely it won't be in here, so you can create it manually. And then I've never had these not work if you do them manually. So, you can add in. So in this case, we would just add in. You don't need to add the first part or your core domain, you just need to add from where you're redirecting from survey collection, [inaudible 00:11:00] dog-joint-supplement, to collections. It's dog-joint-supplement-online. But you could set that up manually if it wasn't done using the dialog box. So in the case where you were possibly creating a brand new product page collection page, or you can do this with blog pages as well, this is where you would actually set your redirect.

So, in the example, if you were discontinuing a certain brand and you created the product under a brand new brand, this is where you would set up your new product page or collection page, and then you'd come and set the redirect from the old brand product or collection page, to the new brand product or collection page. And use this here. Now going deeper. For example if you were completely looking at restructuring the site or the store, so a brand new theme, or you're just really trying to optimize the entire setup and the content, it makes sense to then go away and essentially go through your optimization from scratch again.

So you'd come to something like Ahrefs or keywords everywhere, or whatever tools you're going to use. Google Keyword Planner, if you want a free option, is to come and actually look at your keyword research volume or do your keyword research. So you've got your volumes and your clicks that are coming through to your particular keyword you're looking at, and then make the decisions on how you're going to set up your URLs. So, I can't emphasize enough how important that is to take the time to do this to make sure you get your URLs correct. And then you can also look ... and this is what's good about Ahrefs, you get the keyword difficulty score as well.

So for example, instead of just, if you're looking to create a new collection with this keyword where you've got a volume of 6,000, but the keyword difficulty is 64, you might get a better return by creating one of these other keywords as your collection URL, and be able to benefit more quickly than if you went for this larger keyword. This is a broad example, but my point is just make sure you go and do that keyword research, if you're going to be making those major structural changes, you're going to have changes and fluctuations anyway, if you do that, so it makes sense just to go deeper into your research and make sure you're covering as much as the market as possible.

So to summarize the main thing with your consolidation, if you're going to go through this process, make sure you set up your 301 redirects properly. So you're not missing anything, and be rational about it. Don't redirect irrelevant traffic to a new page or a new product page, a new collection page. Yes you'll get the immediate benefit, if you're getting a lot of traffic to the old page, you'll get the immediate benefit of that traffic flowing through, but because it's irrelevant traffic you'll end up with high bounce rates, lower time on page and medium to long term, there's also the risk of reducing or having suppressions come in for those particular pages.

So, much better off to make sure you're doing it correctly and have that relevance organized and set up. So there's a lot more you can do with redirects. And there's a lot of technical stuff you can get into and use them for all sorts of reasons and strategies, but this is just a broad, basic overview of how it works and how you can use them. Thanks, I hope this was helpful.

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