As Technical SEOs, the internal navigation links can sometimes be overlooked during a website migration. A lot of time will be spent mapping and ensuring 301 redirections seamlessly carry visitors and link strength (or at least 90% of it) from old to new URLs.
Most SEOs are familiar with 302 redirections not passing much link strength and this is easy to find in a crawl. What can easily be overlooked however is the hidden internal 301 redirection problem. In many crawl tools, this might not hit you in the face. It may take a bit more digging to find.
301 Internal Redirection Problems
Here’s the scenario: During a migration, the developers working on the website put the 301 redirections in place but didn’t update the internal links. This can manifest at top navigation level or page level anchors or both. To the visitor, everything appears to work correctly, but as internal links are subject to 301 redirects, there’s a loss of link strength across the website where links don’t point directly to the new page. This isn’t going to help your website page visibility in the SERPs. In highly competitive markets, for highly optimised websites, it could make the difference in achieving top position. It’s a task as an SEO, you’ll want to add to your audits and keep an eye on.
The one thing you don’t want to do is 301 redirect internal pages which should be directly linked to destination pages, losing 10% of your link strength. 301 Redirects also delay page delivery and increase load on your server – so there’s a Page Speed/usability benefit to be had too.
Note – if you’re undertaking a migration you might want to check out our whitepaper, The Ultimate SEO Website Migration Checklist here.
Here’s an example:
Incorrect – Only 90% of Link Strength Passed
Correct – 100% of Link Strength Passed
Internal 301 Redirection Solution
Any of your favourite crawl tools should be able to deliver the required csv export to find problem links. Screaming Frog (SF) is great for this
- Open (or crawl) your website with SF
- Save your crawl
- Click on Bulk Export > All Inlinks
- Save the export in your preferred data format (csv or xls, xlsx) and open the file in excel
- Expand the columns so you can see the source and destination URLs
- Select the headings row and apply a filter (DATA tab > filter)
- In the destination heading click on the small filter icon. Click on Text Filters > Contains, then add your domain name e.g. www.sitevisibility.co.uk Now you’re looking at just internal links 301 redirected to internal pages – perfect.
- Click on the little filter arrow in the Status Code column and select 301. Nice, we get a list of
Source URLs being 301 redirected to internal pages together with the anchor text.
- Fix the links by reviewing the anchor text in the source URL and editing them to point at the final website URL (or give your excel spreadsheet to your developer to work though).
Checking internal linking as part of your audit process can surface wasted link strength. A quick check with your favourite crawler is all that’s needed to stay on top of internal link trouble. There’s the added benefit of reducing server strain and improving Page Speed & usability.