Ecommerce SEO: How To Preserve Your Deep Link Juice

In yesterday’s installment of this week’s holiday SEO series, we covered hot product research and how to boost your rankings for these items’ product pages. One of the tactics was to target bloggers and other media for Christmas gift guides or product reviews.

Again, the more quality links a product page has pointing to it directly, the better chance it has of ranking well in search engines. Plus, a diverse link profile (you have some links pointing to deeper pages, not just your home page) makes your site look more authoritative as a whole to search engines.

So when you do acquire these deep links, you want to keep them. But often in ecommerce – product pages come and go. So it’s important to make sure your links still give you benefit even when pages disappear.

Problem: 404 Not Found

I recently searched for “top geek gifts” and found Wired Magazine’s Ultimate Geek Gift Guide from 2005. It links to 26 products – most are deep pages on the manufacturer or online retailers’ sites. Though an old list, it’s likely the page still gets a lot of traffic. It certainly ranks well, and the links are valuable to SEO forever.

But only a handful of these product pages still exist, a whopping 13 (that’s 50%!) of them are now Not Found pages with no links back into the site, and no suggested alternative products.

Bad for customers, bad for SEO.

Solution? 301 Redirect

Only 20% of the pages preserved the link juice by using a 301 permanent redirect. 3 sites redirected to the home page, while Alienware redirected the page to its Desktop Computer category (one more link for you, Alienware – Merry Christmas) and Sonos to its What to Buy section.

The 301 (permanent) redirect does 2 things – it sends a visitor to a real page on the site, and it tells search engines to pass along any incoming link “juice” (Page Rank) to the page that is redirected to. Whether you redirect to the home page, category page or similar product, the link pointing to your domain helps the overall link popularity of your domain. But redirecting to a category or alternative product page other than the home page is preferable for a few reasons:

  • It’s more specific for the user. If you redirect the page for a wireless keyboard you no longer carry to all your wireless keyboards, it’s more relevant to the visitor than dumping them on the home page.
  • It boosts the rankings for the category or page you direct it to.
  • It keeps diversity in your link portfolio. Search engines like to see that not all your backlinks point to your home page – looks more natural, and looks like your deeper content is valuable.

You never know when someone will link to you or to what page, so it’s best to make this standard procedure for all your pages.

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10 Responses to “Ecommerce SEO: How To Preserve Your Deep Link Juice”

  1. David says:

    Good point, we have recently made changes to some of our clients websites by adding a redirect page that actually gives you 2 choices.

    The first choice will take you back to the homepage and just under this link is a Google Adsense search box that lets you search the site or leave the site with a different search phrase.

    The advantages of this being that with the Google Search box you can also generate an income from the search

  2. Esther says:

    Another option could be to keep the product page and replace add to cart button with a discontinued or replaced by link.

  3. [...] A:  301 permanent redirects.  This post in Get Elastic blog takes on the issue of “leaking” link juice due to expired pages. A good solution is to [...]

  4. Ken says:

    I am still amazed at the number of large companies that don’t take advantage of 301 redirects. I think that it is important for all web developers to have at least a basic understanding of SEO so that opportunites to preserver links such as this aren’t missed.

  5. Good point. What we do is:

    1. Whenever a page is moved or renamed, the system adds automatically an entry in a central redirection tool. old_url -> new_url.

    2. Whenever a page is not found we look into this tool and try to find a the assigned new url and redirect (permanently to it). If no new url can be found we do a similarity search for similar urls and display them.

    In addition the shop owner can add and delete entries in the redirection tool manually.

  6. That Lite Brite caught the eye of my 4-year old! She came over and immediately wanted to know what it was.

  7. “404 not found” this message comes from the server end probleum. Because server cannot find the site. So change the site url old to new(redirect process). .

  8. [...] wrote about this topic last month, how to use 301 redirects to preserve your link juice and SEO benefits of an existing product page. Jason brings up a good point that there’s a [...]

  9. [...] updating the page to the new product version, merchandise with alternative product suggestions), or 301-redirect to somewhere on your site, be it your home page or a category page or the new version of the [...]

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