An SEO Optimisation Campaign Crash Course on URL Redirection

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Updating your website can be an exciting and overwhelming experience for you, your web developers, and your audiences. 

One of the main reasons why you want to improve your site’s appearance is to provide a better, efficient user experience leaving you to engage more with your target market.  

404 pages

Regardless of whether you are moving your site from a new location, deleting pages, or upgrading your domain name, there are times that you mess up this phase and make unhealthy changes. This scenario can lead you to show deleted pages to both your visitors and the search engines.

Deleted pages, known as “Error 404,” can negatively impact your brand’s name, causing a bad user experience and a waste of your crawl budget.

In this guide, we will streamline everything you need to know about redirecting your page’s content to clear up confusion, address frequently asked questions, and check which types of redirections you must use in different scenarios. 

What is URL Redirection 

A URL (Uniform Resource Locators) is the website’s address that tags the exact location of a web page on the internet. It specifies how to retrieve protocol information – HTTP, HTTPS, FTP, and the like. 

Redirection refers to moving one specific page to a different address. This process aims to send both the search engines and the audiences to a new location from the one initially requested. 

Purposes and Uses of URL Redirection 

When do you use an URL redirection? 

These are the different scenarios in which you must perform a redirection:

  • When you decide to upgrade your website from an old one to an entirely new domain. This scenario will push you to redirect all pages you deem valuable to the new domain. 
  • If you plan to consolidate two or more websites and settle into one final address. In this case, you must redirect URLs from those websites into the domain you want to manage moving forward. 
  • If you have an E-Commerce store and some of your products are no longer available, are out of stock or have poor market demand, you must redirect those to an alternative page that provides customers with the nearest and closest product substitutes.  
  • If your store runs a seasonal promotion or campaign. As an owner, you must decide to redirect these pages temporarily to other assets and have it enabled once you need them in full operation again. 
  • When you decide to renovate the content of your website and delete old pages that you no longer need. If those pages perform well, you might want to redirect them to other pages not to lose the SEO impact of it. 

These are some of the scenarios that you are most likely to experience currently on your website. Each of these situations differs from one another as they can be permanently or temporarily affect your website. 

3 Types of URL Redirections

There are different types of redirections that you must get acquainted with to be guided accordingly in your redirection plans.

  1. 301 – “Moved Permanently.”
  2. 302 – “Found” or “Moved Temporarily.”
  3. Meta Refresh

301 Redirects (Moved Permanently)

301 URL Redirection

Using a 301 redirect code indicates that the original content’s address has been permanently moved to a fresh and new URL. 

This is the most common and most talked-about type of redirect as it is an SEO-approved one. It might sound a bit confusing as to why, but if you perform a 301 redirect, you pass the PageRank of that existing content, not only the users. 

Moving a page permanently to the new location passes its full link equity or ranking power. Thus for SEO implementations, we recommend you have this redirection.  

Situations where you use 301 redirects: 

  1. Planning to rebuild an old piece of content
  2. Updating a poorly optimised URL
  3. Moving your website from one domain to another
  4. Consolidating multiple pieces of content that overlap
  5. A Phased Web Launch

302 Redirects (Found & Moved Temporarily)

A 302 redirect signals a temporary change in the URL resource. 

You are temporarily forwarding a certain page to a different one with a plan of bringing it back once you have completed possible website changes later. Compared to that of 301, 302 redirection is pretty much more complicated to set up or maintain. 

Situations where you use 302 redirects: 

  • Geotargeting
  • A/B testing
  • Redirecting product pages that are temporarily out of stock or special offers pages.
  • You are redirecting desktop visitors from a mobile website -vice versa.

If you want to go in this route of redirection, think and ensure you put in the time to understand any implications you may have in the long run. Remember that a poorly configured 302 could harm your site’s search engine visibility

Meta Refresh Redirect   

Unlike the first two redirects, meta refreshes are on the page level type of redirection, not a server-level one. 

“You will be redirected in five seconds,” you are familiar with this pop-up, and we are pretty sure you dislike this so much. Meta refresh redirect carries the messages that may disappoint your website’s visitors. 

Google guidelines don’t approve this practice because:

  • It affects the processing time and 
  • It gets in the way of a better user experience.

If you resort to this type of redirection, we are telling you, it is a wrong move. It is a terrible process to adapt to your SEO campaign. Avoid this, please. 

Redirection Checker

URL Redirection Checker

There are online redirection checkers you can use to monitor your redirects practices. 

Redirection checkers serve as a tool that allows you not only to monitor but provides insights on URL redirection. 

Having this tool helps you understand where your link goes. The URL redirect checker follows the URL’s paths and shows you its journey. 

Tracing your links is crucial because it gives you the allowance to troubleshoot once an error occurs. Diagnosing issues that may arise in this process is integral because migrating from one website to another, once failed, can affect your SEO campaign badly. 

How to Avoid Redirection Loop

Redirecting loop can harm your SEO performance and progress. 

A webpage redirecting loop happens when you Redirect one URL to another but end up having too many redirects and causing inadvertently causing loops. 

Keep in mind that you want a linear flow when performing a redirection – from point A to point B. The redirection loop looks like this: From point A to point B; point B back to point A. This issue can hamper your redirection as the browser will not display your webpage. 

Solving Redirecting Loop Issues:

  1. Fix your redirects – check your redirection setup as you might have incorrectly established it. Edit your .htaccess file, but you have to be mindful in doing so as this file plays a major role in your site’s functionality. Refresh your browser once you have performed this. 
  2. Clear your Cookies – your browser might be having an issue in this case and not your website solely. This issue is easy to fix because all you have to do is clear your browsing data and cookies. 

How to Set Up URL Redirection in WordPress

The easiest way to set up a redirect is through a plugin. If you have a website powered by WordPress, you may have an idea of how to perform redirection as there is a Redirection plugin you may install. 

Installing the WordPress Redirection plugin on your website provides you with the option to either automatically track changes to your URLs or set up redirects. 

There is a link redirect maker plugin that allows you to check the modifications of your existing posts or pages and set up redirects from old slugs you might have used. 

Manual Redirection Set Up

WordPress redirect plugins don’t pick up on the page that you may need. Sometimes it demands you to manually set it up yourself. 

You may do the following:

  1. Go to Tools > Redirection 
  2. Scroll and click the Add new Redirection section
  3. In the Source URL field, type or paste the URL you desire to redirect from. 
  4. After that, in the Target URL field, type or paste the URL you want to redirect to. 
  5. Look for the Group field, then choose whether to leave it as Redirections or Modified posts. Selecting one of these will give browsers information about the type of redirect it is. 
  6. Lastly, click the Add Redirect button. This will manually add your redirection to the list of redirects. 

URL Redirection Set Up Using Rank Math 

Set Up Redirection Using Rank Math

If you are way comfortable using RankMath as your plugin, here’s how you can set up redirections using it. 

  1. You can find the redirections in Rank Math’s sub-menu.
  2. When you click the Redirections option, a table that contains redirection actions will appear.
  3. This simple and easy to navigate interface will help you in your URL redirection plans. 
  4. Click on the “Add New” button.
  5. A form will appear on your screen, carrying plenty of options for you to choose from. 
    1. Source URLs
    2. Match Type
    3. Ignore Case
    4. Destination URL
    5. Redirection Type
    6. Maintenance Code
    7. Status
  6. From these options, you will have the freedom to set up your desired URL redirection, depending on your need.

You may add categories and organise your redirections as well. Adding categories has two main benefits, according to RankMath.

  1. You can easily organize your redirections into manageable categories.
  2. It allows you to filter redirects and hence make finding a particular redirect amongst dozens of them a walk in the park.

When adding a new redirect, you can create a new category to file it in, or you can choose from one of the categories you already created in the past.

Your RankMath plugin offers you wide options to ensure you don’t mess up your URL redirection journey. It allows you to do and see the following as well:

  1. Filter Redirections
  2. Perform Bulk Actions in Redirects
  3. Access Redirection Statistics
  4. Back-Up Your Redirects
  5. Import from a CSV File
  6. Debug Your Redirects

Final Thoughts

URL redirection has its pros and cons. 

Some webmasters are having trouble working on this practice because it can affect the overall functionality of your website. 

Other than that, it can affect the impressions of the search engines and the users of your site if you fail to redirect your page’s content – it can drop customer traffic, confuse search engine crawlers and might cause SEO issues. 

URL redirection can work to your advantage whenever you change the location of your web page, upgrade your site, and enhance system functionality for a better user experience. 

We hope you take the time to understand how URL redirection works and the various approaches that come along with it to stir away from a complicated situation. 

If this confuses you, our SEO team are pretty much willing to help and do this on your behalf. 
Roots Digital SEO services believes in a holistic approach for a sustainable SEO campaign journey for your website. We got your website’s health checked from top to bottom.

FAQS

How Do I Redirect an URL?

There are four easy ways to redirect a URL:

1. Redirecting using a cPanel: This method is one of the easiest and fastest to perform. All you have to do is access your site’s cPanel and select the domain name you want to redirect to outside by providing the details of the destination URL.
 
2. Redirect using an HTML Meta tag – if you have FTP access to your site, you may use this method. 

You need access to edit the HTML files of the source URL you wish to redirect. Simply edit the specific source HTML file, and add this line to the <head> section: 

<meta http-equiv=”refresh” content=”2;url=http://www.anotherwebsite.com/” />

3. URL redirection using PHP. For this method, you need to create a PHP file name old.php to perform it. For a complete PHP file, you need to indicate the type of redirection you want. Your PHP file will look like this:

 <?php
header(“HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently”); 
header(“Location: http://www.yournewwebsitehere.com/blog/”); 
?>

4. Redirecting URL using the .htaccess: this method requires editing your .htaccess file in your server and adding a specific line for the URL’s redirection. 

There are three ways to edit a .htaccess file:
– Redirecting a specific page called /sourcepage.html to another address
– Redirecting the whole domain to another address
– Redirecting one file to another file in the same domain.

What is a URL Redirect?

Redirection refers to forwarding your user automatically from the old URL to a new location without the need for them to access too many links to get to the page they want or stuck at a page with 404 HTML code.

What is the Purpose of Redirection?

These are the different scenarios in which you must perform a redirection:

– When you decide to upgrade your website from an old one to an entirely new domain. 
– If you plan to consolidate two or more websites and settle into one final address. 
– If you have an E-Commerce store and some of your products are no longer available, are out of stock or have poor market demand.
– If your store runs a seasonal promotion or campaign
– When you decide to renovate the content of your website and delete old pages that you no longer need

Why Do I need to Redirect my Website?

There are thousands of reasons why one must perform URL redirection on their websites. 

The most common reasons are:

1. Having duplicate content that can negatively affect your SEO performance. 
2. Updating a post’s URL. If you want to get rid of the 404 Error, you must ensure that you have to perform redirection of your deleted page to the new one. 
3. Migrating from an old domain to a new one. You may use 301 redirects to permanently forward your old content to a new one. This practice carries the Google PageRank and page authority. 
4. Managing two or more domains. If you manage multiple domains, it is wise to consolidate your content than maintain pages that are almost the same. This move will help you better focus on one website and track its SEO performance.

Ian Ong
Ian Ong
Marketing Director @ Roots Digital. Aka the guy responsible for growing the digital agency.
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