The Importance of Search-Friendly Redirects

A redirect is where you send website traffic from a URL that may be temporarily or permanently unavailable, to another one that is relevant to the initial page they landed on. The main reason we add redirects to websites is to provide a good user experience, so traffic doesn’t land on a page that no longer exists and therefore leaves the website.

Redirects are much more than a way to provide a positive user experience, they also have a huge impact on SEO and can really affect your rankings. This is why it is so important to understand exactly how redirects work, and how to use them correctly. We hope you find this guide useful!

When To Use Redirects

So we have mentioned one possible scenario when you will need to use redirects, when a page is accessible, but there are other uses for them too. Redirects help visitors and search engines find content when it is moved, allowing them to find the information they were initially looking for.

Here are some of the key uses of redirects:

  1. Migrating a website from an old to a new domain
  2. If you are consolidating several websites into one
  3. When a product is no longer available or out of stock, to redirect to an alternative
  4. If there is a seasonal sale page that remains empty for part of the year
  5. When old pages are deleted as the content is no longer required

Types of Redirects

Now you have a better understanding about the use of redirects, let’s have a look at the different types. You may have noticed that we mentioned both temporary and permanent redirects, which work in different ways.

Permanent URL redirects are usually called 301 redirects, and tell search engines that a page has been moved to a new location permanently. With this type of redirect, the ranking power from the old page is transferred to the new page, as the old page is no longer crawled by search engines. This prevents the issue of duplicate content too.

Types of permanent URL redirects include:

  • 301: this tells search engines a pages has been permanently moved to a new location
  • 308: this is similar to a 301 redirect, but only works with the HTTPs protocol

Temporary URL redirects are, as the name suggests, a temporary URL redirection that tells search engines that the page has moved to another location, but only temporarily. This means that users can still access the page, but search engines won’t direct the new page.

Types of temporary URL redirects include:

  • 302 (found): this is the most basic, and tells search engines a page has been temporarily moved to a new location
  • 303 (see other): this redirect is often added when there is a form submission on the page, letting search engines know the content has been moved temporarily.
  • 307 (temporary): this is similar to the 301 redirect, but only works with the HTTPs protocol

Best Practices For Search-Friendly Redirects

URL redirects can be tricky to implement, as they require a few lines of code to be added. If you are unfamiliar with coding, it is best to ask a web developer or SEO expert to add these redirects for you. There are also some WordPress plugins available to help with this too – WP Redirects, Rank Math, Simple 301 Redirects.

If you follow these tips, you really can’t go too wrong when creating URL redirects:

  • Redirect to the preferred version of the URL

When creating redirects, always send traffic to the most relevant and preferred version of the URL. If you have two pages about the same topic, redirect to the most relevant page possible.

  • Avoid redirect chains

Don’t set up more than 2 simultaneous redirects as this can impact your SEO ranking as well as the user experience as the page load time increases.

  • Clean up redirects

Once you have redirected a URL it is easy to carry on and forget about them. However these may need reevaluating as the site grows and changes. Some temporary redirects may be better changing to permanent redirects, or may even need removing entirely.

  • Remove the redirect URL within the sitemap

A sitemap should never contain redirect content, it should just list the final, target URL for each page. If your sitemap is created automatically by your CMS, remember you may need to manually remove redirects and replace them with live URLs.

  • Notify search engines of changes

URL redirects can have a really negative impact on your rankings if they aren’t carried out correctly. Be sure to tell search engines if you have added redirects, so they know how to crawl your website. Adding the new URL to Google Search Console is all you need to do here.

So there you have it, the importance of creating search-friendly redirects. If you have any questions about this topic, or would like some help checking that your website has the correct redirects in place, contact our SEO experts today.

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