Undoubtedly, learning how and when to use redirects is pretty essential in building an optimized website. Usually, website owners ignore the importance of redirects which ultimately damage their page ranking and reputation earned through traffic and backlinks. Redirects are used when you create or migrate your website; they're even used when you make significant changes to your domain's content.
Remember: Redirects are another core element of a sound SEO strategy. They are used to forward both search engines and website visitors from one URL to another. In simpler terms, whenever the content is moved to a new location, domain name changes, or page is deleted, you use redirect to let search engine know the changes. Not to mention, for every purpose different redirect is used.
With a properly constructed redirect, you can maintain the ranking of your website in SERP without any drops in traffic and revenue. From both user experience and SEO perspective – redirects are essential neither search engines nor visitors want to land on a page that no longer exists.
Confused? There must be so many questions roaming in your head – don’t worry.
In this blog, we’ll walk through everything you need to know about redirects – so, if you don't want to miss out on true insider information on increasing traffic,
Redirect (abbreviations for redirections) is a client-side automatic forwarding from one URL to another. Simply put, redirects are just the way to forward search engines and visitors to another URL other than the one searchers has requested.
However, they're used for numerous purposes, including relocation of a website, forwarding traffic due to server maintenance, relocating old website visitors to the new website, and merging the duplicate content. Besides, SEO experts usually confuse redirects as black or gray hat techniques. Surprisingly, they are standard practice for webmasters.
Above all, redirects play a vital role in the search engine optimization process. Hence, it is essential to know all the types of redirects and when to use which one.
301 is a permanent redirect placed on a website. It passes the full link equity to the redirected page. Basically, 301 is an HTTP status code that is sent by the webserver to the browser. In addition, 301 signals a permanent redirect from one URL to another. This means when users request an old URL, they will automatically be sent to a new URL.
A 301 redirect passes the ranking power from old URL to the new URL – it is commonly used when the web page has permanently been moved or removed. In most cases, 301 redirect is the best way for applying redirects on the website.
Whenever you change the URL of a resource temporarily – 302 redirects are used. According to Google's employees (some of them), there are certain cases where 301 and 302 redirects are treated similarly. However, the safest way to make sure search engines including Google, Bing, or Yahoo give full credits, is to use 301 redirects when you permanently redirect the URLs.
The reason being, both 302s, and 301s pass the same amount of link equity, and there are certain cases in which 301 may give a stronger canonicalization signal to search engines. Conversely, if the redirect is temporary, a 302 might be the most appropriate. Above and beyond, 307 redirect is the successor of 302 – but the crawlers treat 307 as 301 in most cases.
In comparison with 301 and 302 – Meta Fresh is entirely a different kind of redirect executed on the page level rather than the server level. It is slower and not recommended for the search engine optimization process. In addition, Meta Fresh is associated with a 5 second countdown with the content. Apart from this, the redirect passes some link equity - but it is not recommended as an SEO tactic because of the loss of equity and poor usability.
There is no doubt about that redirects are important in the lifecycle of the content written on the website. Besides, they are not bad for SEO unless implemented incorrectly. Conversely, redirects carry three main implications for both search engines and searchers.
When a searcher clicks on the website redirected to another page, they should wait for the server to process the first request that has been made and then be directed to the second URL. This results in an additional request to the web before the searcher gets the final content. Besides, the added request and the waiting period may add significant latency.
If you own a website with thousands or millions of URLs, be aware – redirects might waste your crawl budget. When Bingbot, Googlebot, or any other search engine bots encounter a link on your website, whether in the content, navigation, or sitemap that has been redirected, this may take up more time than the encountered link having 200 status code. Simply put, the more redirected URLs you have on the site, the more risk you are at for the wasted budget. Bear in mind; search engines only find a fraction of the content, and only a fraction is indexed.
Ultimately, redirects help search engines in understanding that the old page has been shifted to another page. Therefore, all the indexing properties of the old page should be transferred to a new page. However, if you change or move the name of a page without implementing a redirect, search engines will not transfer the redirecting properties. As a result, the new page will lose all the equity, including organic search traffic and ranking. And due to this reason, Google recommends adding 301 redirects when you move or change the name of a page.
As mentioned earlier, redirects are an essential part of SEO – however, their usage goes beyond just this. If you think you can ignore its use, you're wrong! You must use redirects whenever you change the location of a web page.
Without using redirects, you cannot redirect search engines to a new web page, and this can significantly impact your search ranking in SERP and organic traffic. Hence, before making an SEO strategy, take time to understand what redirects are, how they work, and how they can impact your SEO tactics. We would suggest you to spend some time testing and surely you can avoid common issues that are often seen.