URL Redirects For SEO: A Technical Guide

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Reroutes for SEO needs to be used properly due to the fact that they affect how websites are crawled and indexed by Google.

While most people consider redirects as a web detour indication, much more is happening, and it’s remarkably satisfying to find.

Keep reading for an extensive summary of redirects and the appropriate application for technical SEO.

What Is A Redirect?

Site redirects tell web browsers and search engines info about a URL and where to discover the webpage.

A URL redirect includes code implemented to a specific URL, or a group of URLs so that the user (or search engine) is sent out to a various page to the real URL that was input or clicked.

A redirect can be set as a:

  • Momentary redirect: 302, 303, 307, 308.
  • Long-term redirect: 301.

When To Use Redirects

The primary reasons to use redirects are:

  • A private page or entire domain has actually been moved (URL altered).
  • To enable the usage of URL shorteners or ‘quite URLs.’
  • Site migration (e.g., HTTP to HTTPS).

For SEO functions, URL redirects are very important since they:

  • Forward authority of any links pointing to a page that has moved or been deleted.
  • Avoid 404 page not discovered mistakes (although in some cases it is better to leave a 404).

Redirects can be carried out on a group or domain-wide basis however frequently need to be set on an individual basis to avoid issues.

When utilizing RegEX for group reroutes, it can have unexpected results if your logic isn’t perfect!

Types Of Redirects

There are 3 primary kinds of redirects:

  • Meta Refresh redirects are set at the page level however are normally not recommended for SEO purposes. There are 2 types of meta redirect: delayed which is seen as a short-lived redirect, and immediate, which is viewed as an irreversible redirect.
  • Javascript reroutes are likewise set on the customer side’s page and can cause SEO issues. Google has stated a choice for HTTP server-side reroutes.
  • HTTP redirects are set server-side and the very best approach for SEO purposes– we covered extensive listed below.

What Is A HTTP Response Status Code?

Internet browsers and search engine spiders like GoogleBot are called user representatives.

When a user agent attempts to access a webpage, what happens is that the user representative makes a demand, and the site server concerns a response.

The reaction is called an HTTP response status code. It provides a status for the request for a URL.

In the circumstance where a user agent like GoogleBot demands a URL, the server gives an action.

For example, if the request for a URL achieves success, the server will provide an action code of 200, which suggests the request for a URL succeeded.

So, when you think about a GoogleBot reaching a site and trying to crawl it, what’s happening is a series of requests and reactions.

HTTP Reroutes

An HTTP redirect is a server reaction to ask for a URL.

If the URL exists at a different URL (because it was moved), the server tells the user representative that the URL request is being rerouted to a various URL.

The action code for an altered URL is normally in the kind of a 301 or 302 action status code.

The entire 3xx series of action codes communicate much information that can optionally be acted upon by the user agent.

An example of an action that the user agent can take is to save a cache of the new URL so that the next time the old URL is requested, it will request the brand-new URL instead.

So, a 301 and a 302 redirect is more than an internet roadway indication that says, “Go here, not there.”

3XX Series Of Status Codes

Redirects are more than just the 2 status codes everyone recognizes with, the 301 and 302 response codes.

There are a total of seven main 3xx action status codes.

These are the various type of redirects readily available for use:

  • 300 Numerous Options.
  • 301 Moved Completely.
  • 302 Found.
  • 303 See Other.
  • 304 Not Modified.
  • 305 Usage Proxy.
  • 306 (Unused).
  • 307 Momentary Redirect.
  • 308 Permanent Redirect.

Some of the above status codes have actually not been around as long and may not be utilized. So, before using any redirect code aside from 301 or 302, be sure that the designated user agent can translate it.

Due to the fact that GoogleBot utilizes the most recent variation of Chrome (called a headless internet browser), it’s easy to check if a status code is compatible by examining if Chrome acknowledges the status code with a browser compatibility list.

For SEO, one should stay with using the 301 and 302 reaction codes unless there is a specific reason to utilize one of the other codes.

301: Moved Permanently

The 301 status code is regularly referenced as the 301 redirects. But the official name is 301 Moved Completely.

The 301 redirect shows to a user agent that the URL (sometimes referred to as a target resource or simply resource) was altered to another location and that it should use the new URL for future demands.

As mentioned previously, there is more info too.

The 301 status code likewise recommends to the user representative:

  • Future requests for the URL need to be made with the brand-new URL.
  • Whoever is making the request must upgrade their links to the new URL.
  • Subsequent demands can be altered from GET to POST.

That last point is a technical concern. According to the official requirements for the 301 status code:

“Keep in mind: For historic reasons, a user representative MAY alter the demand method from POST to GET for the subsequent request. If this behavior is undesired, the 308 (Long-term Redirect) status code can be used instead.”

For SEO, when online search engine see a 301 redirect, they pass the old page’s ranking to the new one.

Before making a modification, you should take care when utilizing a 301 redirect. The 301 redirects must only be used when the change to a new URL is irreversible.

The 301 status code must not be used when the modification is temporary.

Additionally, if you change your mind later and return to the old URL, the old URL may not rank any longer and may require time to restore the rankings.

So, the main thing to remember is that a 301 status code will be utilized when the modification is irreversible.

302: Found

The main point to comprehend about the 302 status code is that it works for circumstances where a URL is temporarily altered.

The meaning of this response code is that the URL is briefly at a different URL, and it is suggested to utilize the old URL for future demands.

The 302 redirect status code likewise features a technical caution related to GET and Post:

“Keep in mind: For historic factors, a user representative MAY alter the request approach from POST to GET for the subsequent demand. If this habits is unwanted, the 307 (Short-lived Redirect) status code can be used rather.”

The recommendation to “historic reasons” may describe old or buggy user representatives that may alter the demand method.

307: Temporary Redirect

A 307 redirect means the asked for URL is briefly moved, and the user agent must utilize the original URL for future requests.

The only distinction between a 302 and a 307 status code is that a user agent must request the brand-new URL with the same HTTP demand utilized to ask for the initial URL.

That means if the user agent demands the page with a GET request, then the user agent should utilize a GET request for the brand-new short-term URL and can not utilize the POST request.

The Mozilla documents of the 307 status code discusses it more plainly than the official documents.

“The server sends this action to direct the client to get the asked for resource at another URI with same approach that was utilized in the prior demand.

This has the exact same semantics as the 302 Found HTTP reaction code, with the exception that the user agent need to not alter the HTTP technique utilized: if a POST was used in the very first request, a POST must be utilized in the 2nd demand.”

Aside from the 307 status code needing subsequent demands to be of the very same kind (POST or GET) and that the 302 can go either way, everything else is the same between the 302 and the 307 status codes.

302 Vs. 307

You might handle a redirect by means of server config files.htaccess on Apache, example.conf file on Nginx or by means of plugins if you are using WordPress.

In all circumstances, they have the very same syntax for composing redirect guidelines. They differ just with commands used in setup files. For example, a redirect on Apache will look like this:

Alternatives +FollowSymlinks RewriteEngine on RedirectMatch 301 ^/ oldfolder// newfolder/

(You can read about symlinks here.)

On Nginx servers, it will look like this:

reword ^/ oldfolder// newfolder/ long-term;

The commands used to tell the server’s status code of redirect and the action command vary.

For example:

  • Servers status code of redirect: “301 ″ vs. “permanent.”
  • Action command: “RedirectMatch” vs. “reword.”

However the redirect syntax (^/ oldfolder// newfolder/) is the same for both.

On Apache, make sure that mod_rewrite and mod_alias modules (responsible for dealing with redirects) are allowed on your server.

Since the most widely spread out server type is Apache, here are examples for.htaccess apache files.

Ensure that the.htaccess file has these two lines above the redirect rules and put the guidelines below them:

Alternatives +FollowSymlinks RewriteEngine on

Read the main paperwork to learn more about the RewriteEngine.

To comprehend the examples listed below, you may describe the table below on RegExp basics.

* no or more times
+ One or more times
. any single character
? Zero or one time
^ Start of the string
$ End of the string
| b OR operadn” |” a or b
(z) remembers the match to be used when calling $1

How To Create Redirects

How To Create A Redirect For A Single URL

The most common and commonly used type of redirect is when erasing pages or changing URLs.

For example, state you changed the URL from/ old-page/ to/ new-page/. The redirect rule would be:

RewriteRule ^ old-page(/? |/. *)$/ new-page/ [R=301, L] Or RedirectMatch 301 ^/ old-page(/? |/. *)$/ new-page/

The only difference in between the 2 approaches is that the first utilizes the Apache mod_rewrite module, and the second usages mod_alias. It can be done utilizing both approaches.

The routine expression “^” indicates the URL must begin with “/ old-page” while (/? |/. *)$ suggests that anything that follows “/ old-page/” with a slash “/” or without a specific match should be rerouted to/ new-page/.

We could likewise use (. *), i.e., ^/ old-page(. *), however the problem is, if you have another page with a comparable URL like/ old-page-other/, it will also be rerouted when we just want to reroute/ old-page/.

The following URLs will match and be directed to a brand-new page:

/ old-page/ / new-page/
/ old-page / new-page/
/ old-page/? utm_source=facebook.com / new-page/? utm_source=facebook.com
/ old-page/child-page/ / new-page/

It will redirect any variation of the page URL to a new one. If we use redirect in the list below kind:

Redirect 301/ old-page// new-page/

Without routine expressions, all URLs with UTM query string, e.g.,/ old-page? utm_source=facebook.com (which is common given that URLs are utilized to be shared over a social network), would end up as 404s.

Even/ old-page without a trailing slash “/” would wind up as a 404.

Redirect All Except

Let’s state we have a bunch of URLs like/ category/old-subcategory -1/,/ category/old-subcategory -2/,/ category/final-subcategory/ and want to combine all subcategories into/ category/final-subcategory/. We need the “all other than” guideline here.

RewriteCond % !/ category/final-subcategory/ RewriteCond % !-f RewriteRule ^(classification/)./ category/final-subcategory/ [R=301, L] Here, we want to redirect all under/ category/ on the third line except if it is/ category/final-subcategory/ on the fourth line. We likewise have the “!-f” rule on the second line, ignoring any file like images, CSS, or JavaScript files.

Otherwise, if we have some possessions like “/ category/image. jpg,” it will likewise be rerouted to “/ final-subcategory/” and cause an image break.

Directory Change

You can use the guideline listed below if you did a classification restructuring and want to move whatever from the old directory site to the new one.

RewriteRule ^ old-directory$/ new-directory/ [R=301, NC, L] RewriteRule ^ old-directory/(. *)$/ new-directory/$1 [R=301, NC, L] I used $1 in the target to inform the server that it should keep in mind whatever in the URL that follows/ old-directory/ (i.e.,/ old-directory/subdirectory/) and pass it (i.e., “/ subdirectory/”) onto the location. As an outcome, it will be rerouted to/ new-directory/subdirectory/.

I used 2 rules: one case without any trailing slash at the end and the other one with a routing slash.

I could integrate them into one guideline using (/? |. *)$ RegExp at the end, however it would cause problems and include a “//” slash to the end of the URL when the requested URL with no tracking slash has an inquiry string (i.e., “/ old-directory? utm_source=facebook” would be redirected to “/ new-directory//? utm_source=facebook”).

Get rid of A Word From URL

Let’s state you have 100 URLs on your site with the city name “Chicago” and wish to eliminate them.

For the URL http://yourwebiste.com/example-chicago-event/, the redirect rule would be:

RewriteRule ^(. *)-chicago-(. *) http://% /$1-$2 [NC, R=301, L] If the example URL remains in the kind http://yourwebiste.com/example/chicago/event/, then the redirect would be: RewriteRule ^(. *)/ chicago/(. *) http://% SERVER_NAME/$1/$2 [NC, R=301, L] Set A Canonical URL

Having canonical URLs is the most vital part of SEO.

If missing out on, you may endanger your website with duplicate content issues due to the fact that search engines deal with URLs with “www” and “non-www” variations as various pages with the same content.

Therefore, you need to guarantee you run the site just with one version you select.

If you wish to run your site with the “www” variation, utilize this rule:

RewriteCond % HTTP_HOST ^ yourwebsite.com [NC] RewriteRule ^(. *)$ http://www.yourwebsite.com/$1 [L, R=301] For a “non-www” version: RewriteCond % HTTP_HOST ^ www.yourwebsite.com [NC] RewriteRule ^(. *)$ http://yourwebsite.com/$1 [L, R=301] Trailing slash is likewise part of canonicalization because URLs with a slash at the end or without are also dealt with in a different way. RewriteCond % REQUEST_FILENAME!-f RewriteRule ^(. * [^/]$/$1/ [L, R=301] This will make certain the/ example-page is rerouted to/ example-page/. You might select to eliminate the slash instead of including then you will need the other guideline below: RewriteCond % !-d RewriteRule ^(. *)/$/$1 [L, R=301]HTTP To HTTPS Redirect

After Google’s initiative to motivate website owners to utilize SSL, moving to HTTPS is among the commonly utilized redirects that almost every website has.

The rewrite rule listed below can be used to require HTTPS on every website.

RewriteCond % HTTP_HOST ^ yourwebsite.com [NC, OR] RewriteCond % HTTP_HOST ^ www.yourwebsite.com [NC] RewriteRule ^(. *)$ https://www.yourwebsite.com/$1 [L, R=301, NC] Utilizing this, you can combine a www or non-www variation redirect into one HTTPS redirect guideline.

Redirect From Old Domain To New

This is likewise among the most pre-owned redirects when you choose to rebrand and require to alter your domain. The rule listed below redirects old-domain. com to new-domain. com.

RewriteCond % HTTP_HOST ^ old-domain. com$ [OR] RewriteCond % ^ www.old-domain.com$ RewriteRule (. *)$ http://www.new-domain.com/$1 [R=301, L] It utilizes 2 cases: one with the “www” variation of URLs and another “non-www” since any page for historical reasons may have inbound links to both versions.

The majority of website owners use WordPress and may not need a.htaccess apply for redirects however use a plugin instead.

Managing redirects utilizing plugins might be slightly different from what we went over above. You may need to read their paperwork to manage RegExp properly for the particular plugin.

From the existing ones, I would suggest a complimentary plugin called Redirection, which has many parameters to control redirect rules and many helpful docs.

Reroute Finest Practices

1. Do not Redirect All 404 Broken URLs To The Homepage

This case often takes place when you are too lazy to examine your 404 URLs and map them to the proper landing page.

According to Google, they are still all treated as 404s.

If you have a lot of pages like this, you need to consider developing lovely 404 pages and engaging users to search more or discover something besides what they were searching for by displaying a search alternative.

It is strongly suggested by Google that redirected page material should be comparable to the old page. Otherwise, such a redirect may be thought about a soft 404, and you will lose the rank of that page.

2. Get Mobile Page-Specific Reroutes Right

If you have different URLs for desktop and mobile sites (i.e., “example.com” for desktop and “m.example.com” for mobile), you ought to make certain to redirect users to the suitable page of the mobile variation.

Correct: “example.com/sport/” to “m.example.com/sport/”
Incorrect: “example.com/sport/” to “m.example.com”

Likewise, you need to ensure that if one page is 404 on the desktop, it ought to likewise be 404 on mobile.

If you have no mobile version for a page, you can prevent redirecting to the mobile variation and keep them on the desktop page.

3. How To Utilize Meta Refresh

It is possible to do a redirect utilizing a meta revitalize tag like the example below:

If you place this tag in/ old-page/, it will redirect the user right away to/ new-page/.

Google does not forbid this redirect, but it doesn’t suggest utilizing it.

According to John Mueller, search engines may not be able to acknowledge that kind of redirect correctly. The very same is likewise real about JavaScript reroutes.

4. Prevent Redirect Chains

This message displays when you have a wrong routine expression setup and winds up in an infinite loop.

Screenshot by author, December 2022 Generally, this takes place when you have a redirect chain. Let’s say you redirected page 1 to page 2 a long period of time back. You may have forgotten that

page 1 is rerouted and chosen to redirect page 2 to page 1 again. As an outcome, you will end up with a guideline like this: RewriteRule ^ page1/ page2 [R

=301, NC, L] RewriteRule ^ page2/ page1 [R=301, NC, L] This will produce a limitless loop and produce the mistake revealed above. Conclusion Knowing what

redirects are and which scenario requires a specific status code is fundamental to

optimizing

websites appropriately. It’s a core part of comprehending SEO. Numerous situations require precise understanding of redirects, such as moving a website to a brand-new domain or producing a short-term holding page URL for a webpage that will return under its regular URL. While a lot is possible with a plugin, plugins can be misused without correctly comprehending when and why to utilize a specific

type of redirect. More Resources: Featured Image: