A redirect occurs when someone asks for a specific page but is redirected to another page. Often, the site owner would delete the page and set up a redirect to direct visitors and search engine crawlers to a relevant page – a much better approach than sending them annoying, experience-damaging 404 messages. Redirects play a huge role in the lives of website owners, developers and SEOs. So let’s answer a few recurring questions about redirects for SEO.
1. Are redirects bad for SEO?
Are redirects bad for SEO? The answer is no; Redirects are not inherently bad for SEO. However, it is important to implement them correctly to avoid potential problems. Improper implementation can lead to problems such as loss of PageRank and traffic. URL changes require page redirection because you want to preserve the hard work you put into building an audience and acquiring backlinks.
To ensure that redirects are implemented correctly and effectively, consider the following best practices:
- Use the appropriate redirect type: The most commonly used redirect for permanent URL changes is the 301 redirect. This informs search engines that the original URL has been permanently moved to a new location. By using a 301 redirect, you can maintain the ranking and relevance of the old URL and seamlessly redirect users and search engine crawlers to the new URL.
- Update internal links: When implementing redirects, it is important to update any internal links on your site that point to the old URLs. This ensures that visitors can navigate to the correct pages and search engines can properly index the new URLs.
- Preserve user experience: Redirects should aim to provide a smooth user experience. Avoid excessive redirect chains, which can slow page load times and frustrate users. It’s also important to direct users to relevant content that matches their intent. For example, if a page has been permanently removed, redirect users to a relevant alternative rather than a generic homepage.
- Monitor and test redirects: Monitor your redirects regularly. Check for errors or problems, e.g. B. broken redirects or redirect loops. It’s also helpful to test redirects regularly to make sure they’re working as expected.
2. Why should I redirect a URL?
By redirecting a changed URL, you redirect users and crawlers to a new URL, minimizing hassle. Whenever you do maintenance on your website, remove things. You can delete a post, change your URL structure, or move your website to a new domain. You need to replace it or visitors will end up on these 404 pages.
If you make small changes, like deleting an outdated article, you can redirect that old URL to a relevant new article with a 301, or give it a 410 to say you deleted it. Don’t delete anything without a plan. And don’t redirect your URLs to random articles that have nothing to do with the article you’re deleting. And finally, don’t redirect all of your 404 responses to your homepage!
Larger projects require a URL migration strategy. For example, switching to a new domain or changing URL paths. In these cases, you should look at all of your website’s URLs and map them to their future locations on the new domain. Once you’ve determined what goes where, you can start redirecting the URLs. Use the address change tool in Google Search Console to notify Google of the changes.
3. What is a 301 redirect? And a 302 redirect?
A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect that informs visitors and search engine crawlers that the requested URL has been permanently moved to a new destination. It is the most commonly used redirect for permanent URL changes. By implementing a 301 redirect, you signal that the old URL is no longer in use and the new URL should be accessed instead. It is important to note that when a 301 redirect occurs, the old URL should not be used in the future as it represents a permanent change.
A 302 redirect, on the other hand, is a temporary redirect. This type of redirect is used to indicate that the requested content is temporarily unavailable at a specific address, but will be available again at a later date. Unlike a 301 redirect, a 302 redirect suggests that the change is temporary and the original URL may be reused.
You must consider the type of URL change when deciding which redirect to use. If the change is permanent and you don’t intend to use the original URL again, a 301 redirect is appropriate. However, if the change is temporary in nature and you plan to revert to the original URL, a 302 redirect should be used.
It is recommended that you carefully consider the purpose and duration of the URL change when selecting the appropriate redirect. If you are unsure which redirect you need, please read our article on choosing redirect.
4. How to easily manage redirects in WordPress?
We may be biased, but we think the redirect manager in our Yoast SEO Premium WordPress plugin is incredibly helpful. We know that many people find it difficult to understand the concept of redirects and the work involved in adding and managing them. That’s why the first thing we wanted was our WordPress SEO plugin to have an easy-to-use redirect tool. I think we succeeded, but don’t take my word for it.
Redirect Manager can help you set up and manage redirects on your WordPress site. It is an essential tool for keeping your website fresh and healthy. We made it as simple as possible. Here’s what happens when you delete a post:
- Move a post to the trash
- A message appears that you have moved a post to the trash
- Choose one of two options that the forwarding manager offers you:
- Redirect to another URL
- Provide a 410 Content-Deleted header
- Selecting Redirect will open a modal where you can enter the new URL for that specific post
- Save, done!
So practical, right? Here is an insightful article titled “What does the redirect manager do in Yoast SEO?” that answers this question. Or watch the video below!
5. What is a redirect checker?
A redirect checker is a tool to determine whether a particular URL is redirected and to analyze the path it follows. You can use this information to find bottlenecks, such as: For example, a redirect chain in which a URL is redirected many times, making it significantly more difficult for Google to crawl that URL – and providing users with a less-than-stellar user experience. These chains often happen without you realizing it: when you delete a redirected page, you add another piece. So you need to keep an eye on your redirects; A redirect checker is one of the tools for this.
You can use one of the SEO suites like Sitebulb, Ahrefs or Screaming Frog to test your redirects and links. If you just need a quick check, you can also use a simpler tool like httpstatus.io to get insight into the lifespan of a URL on your site. Another must-have tool is Ayima’s Redirect Path extension for Chrome.
6. Do I need to redirect HTTP to HTTPS?
Every website should use the HTTPS protocol, but make sure you redirect your HTTP traffic to HTTPS. You might run into problems with Google if you make your website available over HTTP and HTTPS. So be careful. Google prefers HTTPS sites because they tend to be faster and more secure. Your visitors also expect extra security.
So you need to set up a 301 redirect from HTTP to HTTPS. There are several ways to do this and you need to plan for this to make sure everything goes as it should. First, this is best done at the server level. Find out what type of server your site is running (NGINX, Apache, or something else) and what code you need to add to your server configuration file or .htaccess file. Your host often has a guide to help you set up an HTTP to HTTPS redirect at the server level. Some hosts have a simple setting to manage this all at once.
There are also WordPress plugins that can handle the HTTPS/SSL functionality for your website, but for this specific issue we wouldn’t rely on a plugin but rather manage your redirection at the server level. Don’t forget to let Google know about the changes in Search Console.
Redirects for SEO
There are many questions about redirects that need to be answered. The redirect concept isn’t too difficult to understand if you think about it. Getting started with redirects isn’t that difficult either. The difficult part of working with redirects is managing them. Where are all these redirects going? What if something breaks? Can you find redirect chains or redirect loops? Can the routes be shortened? You have a lot to gain from optimizing your redirects, so go ahead and fix them. Do you have burning questions about redirects? Let us know in the comments!
Read more: How to properly delete a page from your website »