Redirects For SEO: Complete Guide 2022

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As a website owner, at one point or another, you might have to deal with redirects. Redirects come in handy when you rebrand, merge multiple websites, delete a page, or permanently move a page to another location by helping keep things accessible to search engines and your targeted users.

One thing though. There exist different types of redirects for different scenarios the reason why we came up with this article as it is important to understand the difference between them.

In this guide we’ll cover:

  • What are redirects
  • Why should you use redirects
  • When to use redirects
  • Types of redirects
  • Redirects best practices

Let’s get to it…….

What are redirects?

This is a way of forwarding users to a different URL other than the one requested(Redirection is the process of forwarding one URL to a different URL.) in instances when the original no longer exists.

With no redirect in place, anyone landing on the page that has been deleted or moved will get an error.

Why should you use redirets?

For any users expecting to find a live webpage, landing on an error is never a good experience. This will definitely result in a bounce(the user will leave the site) meaning converting this user into a customer or client, or even an email subscriber drops massively.

When you click on a link you’re definitely expecting to be taken to a relevant page and not be served with an error due to the fact that the page might have been moved or deleted.

But that only happens when there is no redirect in place.

Use a redirect to forward traffic to the new URL and you will have a happy visitor who, even though the URL is different, still ends up where they wanted to be.

Not implementing redirects really can result in lost search engine rankings, as well as disgruntled users.

To put it simply, there are two main reasons why you need to use redirects:

  •  Better user experience for visitors
  • Help search engines understand your site

When to use redirects

You need to use redirects when you move content from one Url to another and occasionally when you delete content.

Let’s take a quick dive into the instances when you need to use them.

  • When moving domains
  • When merging websites
  • When switching to HTTPS
  • When running a promotion
  • When deleting pages

At times, you only need to redirect a single URL or a series of single URLs or directories on a site. Other times, you need to redirect an entire domain.

Note: There are different types of redirects that you need to use depending on the situation and the end goal.

Types of redirects

Redirects are divided into two groups:

  1. server-side redirects
  2. client-side redirects

Each contains a number of redirects that search engines view as either temporary or permanent. 

Note:  You ought to use the right redirect for the task at hand to avoid potential SEO issues.

Server-side redirects

This is where the server decides where to redirect the user or search engine when a page is requested. It does this by returning a 3XX HTTP status code.

If you’re doing SEO, you’ll be using server-side redirects most of the time.

Let’s have a look at the 3XX redirects every SEO should know:

301 redirect

301 redirect forwards users to the new URL and tells search engines that the resource has permanently moved.

302 redirect

A 302 redirect forwards users to the new URL and tells search engines that the resource has temporarily moved. When confronted with a 302 redirect, search engines keep the old URL indexed even though it’s redirected.

303 redirect
redirects for seo

A 303 redirect forwards the user to a resource similar to the one requested and is a temporary form of redirect. It’s typically used for things like preventing form resubmissions when a user hits the “back” button in their browser.

307 redirect

A 307 redirect is the HTTP 1.1 successor of the 302 redirects. While the major crawlers will treat it like a 302 in some cases, it is best to use a 301 for almost all cases.

308 redirect

A 308 redirect is a permanent redirect, so it will pass on link juice and page authority. Like the previous redirect, however, its effects on SEO aren’t well known. In most cases, it’s best to use a 301.

Client-side redirects

A client-side redirect is one where the browser decides where to redirect the user. Only use it when you lack any other option.

307 redirect

A 307 redirect commonly occurs client-side when a site uses HSTS. This is because HSTS tells the client’s browser that the server only accepts secure (HTTPS) connections and to perform an internal 307 redirect if asked to request unsecured (HTTP) resources from the site in the future.

Meta refresh redirect

Meta refreshes are a type of redirect executed on the page level rather than the server level. They are usually slower, and not a recommended SEO technique.

JavaScript redirect

uses JavaScript to instruct the browser to redirect the user to a different URL.

Best practices for redirects

1. Never Create Unnecessary Redirects

The first thing to remember is to never intentionally create unnecessary redirects. For example, you shouldn’t create redirects when building internal links and menus.

If you’ve gotten into the habit of typing URLs lazily, it’s best to rethink the way you’re working. Instead, when you create a URL make sure that you:

  • Use the proper protocol prefix (HTTP or HTTPS).
  • Include or exclude the “www” subdomain as appropriate.
  • Don’t use post and page IDs in links.
  • Include the entire path to the page or post.

The redirection power built into WordPress is supposed to be a fallback, in case you accidentally create a bad URL. It’s not a very reliable fix for lazy URL writing in general.

2. Make Sure Your Top-Level Domain (TLD) Resolves With No More Than One Redirection

The second thing you can do to minimize the occurrence of WordPress redirects is to make sure your Top-Level Domain (TLD) resolves with no more than one redirection. Your goal is to make sure that the correct URL is reached through one redirection or less, no matter what combination of protocol prefix and subdomain a visitor throws in front of the TLD.

Let’s look at an example. All of the following URLs should resolve to the TLD with no more than one redirection and one of these should resolve with no redirects:

  • http://example.com
  • http://www.example.com
  • https://example.com
  • https://www.example.com

If you aren’t sure how many redirections are required to resolve your site’s URL using those different combinations of protocol prefixes and subdomains, you can check using Patrick Sexton’s Redirect mapper:

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