Redirects: What you need to know
What are redirects?
A redirect refers to a web server function wherein an a user is redirected to a new URL when they requested for the old URL. Simply put, redirects allow you to point a user, who has accessed an old URL, to the appropriate page on your website.
When are they used?
Redirects can be used for the following:
- Shortening a URL (e.g. www.giveaduck.org/Company/Our+History.html to www.giveaduck.org/History)
- Prevent a broken link when web pages are being moved to another website or domain (e.g. redirecting a user to www.giveaduck.org/history instead of the old web page, www.giveaduck.org/About+Us/History.html)
- Allow multiple domain names belonging to the same owner to refer to a single (canonical) website. (e.g. allow www.giveaduck.net and www.giveaduck.com to redirect to www.giveaduck.org)
Do note that for as long as there is no change in the URL structure, or the domain name, there is no need for any redirect.
Why are they important?
Redirects are especially important for the following reasons:
- It’s good for your users. It prevents users from accessing a broken link. If you do not apply redirects to your web pages, users will be served a 404 Page Not Found error message, which is not a good experience for the users.
- It’s good for your rankings, too. If you have two versions of your website (http://www.giveaduck.com and http://giveaduck.com), all inbound links pointing to http://www.giveaduck.com will bypass http://giveaduck.com, thus, hurting you chances to rank in search engines! In addition, if you have 20 strong links to http://giveaduck.com, and 20 for http://www.giveaduck.com, the Internet will recognise that you have a website with 2 URL’s and only 20 links (instead of 40). Redirects let you combine the two versions of your website URL into one, thus combining all 40 internal links, and in effect, help your website rank as well.
Types of redirects
- 301 “Moved Permanently” – 301 redirects are used when you need to permanently change the URL of your website. It means that a website has moved to a new location. 301 Redirects pass on about 90-99% of the ranking power the old page has to the new one, hence it’s the most recommended redirect type.
- 302 / 307 “Found” or “Moved Temporarily” – 307 redirects are the predecessors of the HTTP 1.0 302 redirects, and will be treated as 302 redirects by major crawlers in some cases. Both do not pass on ranking power to the new page, and hence, are rarely used (and sometimes discouraged). These types of redirects can only come in handy when a page is under maintenance.
- Metarefresh – Also used for websites that have moved to a new location. However, they’re much slower than 301 redirects. These are implemented on the page level, rather than the server level. The most common example of a metarefresh redirect are those with 5-second countdowns, and a text that says “If you are not redirected in five seconds, click here.“
How to do redirects
The resources below will focus more on creating 301 redirects on your chosen platform.
If you need redirecting your site, contact our support team.
- Map all the URL’s of your old website to the appropriate pages on your new website BEFORE your website goes live. This ensures that your all your old links will redirect to the new website once it gets published.
- To prevent a deleted page from showing in Google Search Results, re-index your website using the Google Search Console.