One of my regular, though thankfully infrequent, tasks is fixing broken links on our website. Fortunately, I can request a list be generated so I don’t have to check hundreds of links manually or wait around for complaints to help me locate problems.
Because we tend to archive everything, broken links to long past events and old news items tend to occur over time. Similarly, when other sites undergo an update, pages and resources get moved and, sometimes, removed.
However there are other broken links which really surprise me; these are the ones to website home pages. Whereas I understand that these sometimes need to be changed, for instance, to reflect changes in an organisation’s name, it seems incredible that the owners of the website don’t always consider it important enough to use a redirect.
Looking through recent statistics for our site I can see a significant number of visitors reach our site via a redirection. Our site changed name over three years ago, and we advertise it widely, yet many people must be reaching us though a URL they made a favourite years ago. We even have visitors using the URL from an even earlier incarnation!
So if you are going to change the name of your site or have recently done so, consider how many visitors you could be losing by not using redirection or taking it away too quickly (a quick check of the web statistics will tell you if visitors are still using the old address.) You may also be loosing links to your site from other sites (like ours) albeit temporarily until someone likes me fixes them; again, web statistics will tell you how valuable these are to your site.