Have you just deployed a new Website that includes a significantly different site structure, file names, and/or file extensions? There are a few basic “housekeeping” tasks that should be performed to insure that indexed pages (in the case of search engines) and bookmarked pages (in the case of users) will not be returned with “Page not found” errors.
The digital Change of Address Notification
301 redirects are the best method for telling the world that a previous web page name and/or extension have been replaced by a different page. Think of a 301 redirect like digital equivalent of forwarding your USPS mail when moving to a new physical address. It instantly forwards an old URL to the newer replacement URL. With a 301 redirect, the server is configured so that when a search engine or user follows a link they have previously bookmarked, the server recognizes that URL as an old page and automatically redirects the user to the new page. For example we have the following URL set to redirect using this method: http://risingline.com/creative_samples.htm (notice the URL of the actual page you end up on is completely different).
301 Redirets are also useful for creating more descriptive and memorable URLs in marketing campaigns. For example, we found ourselves directing people to a particular page on our Website quite often during phone conversations. Rather than having to relay the page name with its dash and “.php” extension we just created a shorter 301 redirect; so now we just have to say or type “http://risingline.com/why” instead of “http://risingline.com/web-sites.php“. This URL is much more effective and memorable for verbal and written communication yet allows us to retain our file name “web-sites” which is more desirable for SEO purposes.