Whenever you make structural changes to your website, there is a risk that you will confuse the search engine and harm your search rankings. This can include changing your domain name, changing your content management system (CMS), redesigning your site—anything that fundamentally alters the landscape of your web presence.
In this chapter, we will review these types of scenarios from the top down. Be ready to refer back to Content Delivery and Search Spider Control in Chapter 6 to review the technical specifics of options for moving content from one location to another.
Moving content refers to the situation when content used to live at one URL (e.g., http://www.yourdomain.com/pageA.html) and has now moved to another URL (e.g., http://www.yourdomain.com/products/pageA.html). One of your goals when you move content is to make sure users (and search engines) that attempt to visit the old URL (/pageA.html) are presented with the content from the new location (/products/pageA.html).
It turns out that there is an additional critical goal: namely, when you move content from one URL to another, the links to that content at the old URL will stop providing value to your rankings in the search engines for that content, unless you perform a 301 redirect.