Site Redesign, 301/302 Redirects, & Lost Rankings

We’ve had a very successful site with great rankings, lots of links, and lots of respect within its industry for the last 14 years.

We recently did a full site re-design (the last re-design was about 9-10 years ago), making it more user friendly and bringing it more up-to-date, etc. In doing so, we switch from a straight hand-coded html site to a CMS. All url’s changed along with the page titles. Though much of the content remained the same, much of it was updated as well with lots of new content added.

Prior to launching the re-designed site, we went through and made a complete list of all the old site url’s and set them to 301 redirects to the appropriate page of the new site.

As soon as we launched, we noticed a 70% drop in traffic. One of the biggest drops came from two of the most popular pages on the old site that no longer received traffic. We discovered that we had accidentally sent the 301 redirect for those two pages to the wrong pages on the new site. While we still retained rankings that we had previously on those two pages, the newly ranked page was somewhat irrelevant and not getting any traffic to it, despite high rankings.

To remedy the situation, we added a more relevant page and did a 302 redirect from the page that was now ranked in an effort to switch the ranked page out with the new page that was more relevant to the old page.

So, we ended up with…
Original Page –> 301 Redirect to New (but wrong) Page
New (but wrong) Page –> 302 Redirect to Even Newer (more relevant) Page (removed the original 301 when we put this one up)

After doing that, we completely lost many of the rankings that we had with the original 301 redirect and those that we did retain instead went to the main page of the section rather than to the specific page that we did the 302 redirect to.

So, now I feel like we have two options:

  1. The original 301 from the old page to the wrong page on the new site transferred links and PR to that page. It maintained rankings but got no traffic. We then did a 302 from that page to the newer more relevant to the old content page. We could remove the newer, more relevant page and the 302 redirect to it and instead just put the old 301 to the less relevant new page back up. Hopefully because it was a 302, the old page will regain old rankings, but it’ll be a matter of converting the traffic. Not sure if it’s even possible to “un-do” this at this point.

  2. The original 301 from the old page to the wrong page on the new site transferred links and PR to that page. It maintained rankings but got no traffic. We then did a 302 from that page to the newer more relevant to the old content page. We can switch the 302 to a 301 and hope that the links and PR that were transferred to the wrong/less-relevant page on the new site transfers to the newer more relevant page.

So, what would you do?

Thanks in advance for any advice you can give!

I agree, option 2 seems best. I would avoid using any 302 redirects that are not set up for a temporary, scheduled amount of time. The 301 redirect straight from the old page to the correct, new page seems best.

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I’d go with option 2 and redirect both URLs to the updated, relevant content.

  • Original Page –> 301 Redirect to Even Newer (more relevant) Page
  • New (but wrong) Page –> 301 Redirect to Even Newer (more relevant) Page