URL Redirects: Finding a Better Place for Your Content
Thanks to the questions our Web CEO Support Angels field every day, we have a great source of user generated content for our blog.
For those who often hear about URL redirects, such as 301s and 302s, but don’t fully understand what they are and what they are needed for, we want to clear a few things up.
URL redirects cause a requested page or domain to automatically send users and search engines to another page or server. There are many types and ways of redirecting your content from an old server location to a new one. It mainly depends on what programming language the website is written in, what path for redirects you use (server-sided or client-sided) and what the purpose of a URL redirection is. Be aware that any incorrect move of your content from one URL to another may cause visitor traffic loss and even a temporary drop of your search engine rankings. Improper redirect generation is like moving to a new place while leaving all your things where you lived before. But sometimes you have no other option but to change an old cubbyhole for your content to a new and better one with all the page or domain authority and link juice transferred to a new URL.
What are the most common reasons for URL redirection?
From an SEO perspective you would rather not use URL redirects, but there are still reasonable excuses for redirects.
- To consolidate two versions of your site (www.domain.com and domain.com) with the help of a canonical redirect.
- To get rid of duplicate content issues by redirecting one page to the other.
- To redirect from an old website domain to a new, more marketable one.
- To direct people from a 404 page “not found” to an existing relevant page.
What is the most SEO recommended URL redirect type?
In most cases you can generate a URL redirection in two ways: at the server (HTTP) level and at the HTML source level. HTML or client-sided redirects usually cause technical SEO issues like slow response time and page speed. From an SEO perspective, the server-sided redirects are preferable, because they are much quicker and can be cached by a browser.
SEO experts and Google Webmaster guidelines suggest using search engine friendly 301 permanent redirects created at the server level, because it is the safest way to quickly direct search engines and users to your content’s new location and save any accrued SEO benefits. Temporary redirects (including 302s, 303s and 307s) are not good for your SEO at all. You should avoid these as much as possible or use them only briefly.
4 free SEO tools to check your redirect quality
If you have multiple redirects on your website, you should keep track of their status on a regular basis. You can get into big SEO trouble if some of your redirects work slowly, are configured incorrectly and mislead your users and search engine bots.
Redirect Checker by Small SEO Tools will help you to check the HTTP headers of your pages with the extraction of the HTTP status code in order to check for valid 301 redirects.
Redirect Path Checker is a helpful Chrome Extension that quickly identifies redirect paths and checks them for potential errors that may have slipped through your fingers.
If you don’t know how to generate 301 URL redirects and don’t have any webmaster to help you, you can use this Redirect Generator tool from Rapidtables.
With multiple redirects on your site, you will need to run a complex WebCEO Online SEO audit in order to detect and fix any technical issues and page speed problems on your site. In the ideal world you should avoid redirects if at all possible, or reduce the number of redirects to a minimum.