The Importance of URL Redirects
So your website is up and running and you have managed to cut through Google and get some good rankings happening for your web pages. And then you go and change the name of a page!
Google will no longer be able to find that page as it has "indexed" it with what the page was called before you changed it.
When that page comes up in Google and a viewer, a potential customer, clicks on that link it will come up with Page Not Found (404 error).
Not the end of the world but not ideal either for both the User Experience or for your SEO as a it will impact your search engine rankings.
What is a URL Redirect?
URL redirects are a way of redirecting visitors from a certain URL to a different one. This is primarily used to tell Search Engines what the new name of a page is so you don't lose your position in the search engines for an already well-ranked page.
There are various types of redirects such as 301 redirect, 302 redirect, 307 redirect. The main one used is 301 redirect.
When you change a page name or you delete a page you need to do a URL Redirect to the new page. This will keep the user happy as they will have the information they were after and it will carry across your link equity (ranking).
Note before you change the name of a page, even if you have just changed one letter, make a note of the old page name as you will need it to do the redirect. Same with if you are deleting a page that is no longer required.
URL Redirects are also used when you are migrating from and old website to a new website.
Your CMS (Content Management System) should have an option for URL Redirects or you may need to add a plugin.