URL Redirects For SEO: A Technical Guide

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Reroutes for SEO must be used correctly because they affect how websites are crawled and indexed by Google.

While many people think about redirects as a web detour sign, much more is happening, and it’s remarkably pleasurable to discover.

Keep checking out for a comprehensive introduction of redirects and the correct application for technical SEO.

What Is A Redirect?

Site redirects inform internet browsers and online search engine details about a URL and where to discover the website.

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

A redirect can be set as a:

  • Short-lived redirect: 302, 303, 307, 308.
  • Permanent redirect: 301.

When To Utilize Redirects

The primary factors to use redirects are:

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

For SEO functions, URL redirects are necessary due to the fact that they:

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

Redirects can be executed on a group or domain-wide basis however typically need to be set on a private basis to prevent problems.

When using RegEX for group reroutes, it can have unforeseen results if your reasoning isn’t flawless!

Kinds of Redirects

There are three primary types of redirects:

  • Meta Refresh redirects are set at the page level however are usually not recommended for SEO purposes. There are two types of meta redirect: postponed which is viewed as a short-lived redirect, and immediate, which is viewed as an irreversible redirect.
  • Javascript redirects are also set on the client side’s page and can trigger SEO problems. Google has actually specified a choice for HTTP server-side redirects.
  • HTTP redirects are set server-side and the best technique for SEO purposes– we covered thorough below.

What Is A HTTP Response Status Code?

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

When a user representative attempts to access a webpage, what happens is that the user representative makes a request, and the site server concerns an action.

The response is called an HTTP action status code. It provides a status for the ask for a URL.

In the circumstance where a user agent like GoogleBot demands a URL, the server provides a reaction.

For instance, if the request for a URL succeeds, the server will provide a reaction code of 200, which means the request for a URL succeeded.

So, when you think about a GoogleBot reaching a website and attempting to crawl it, what’s happening is a series of demands and actions.

HTTP Redirects

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

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

The action code for an altered URL is generally in the type of a 301 or 302 response status code.

The whole 3xx series of reaction codes communicate much details that can optionally be acted upon by the user agent.

An example of an action that the user representative can take is to conserve a cache of the brand-new URL so that the next time the old URL is asked for, it will ask for the brand-new URL rather.

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

3XX Series Of Status Codes

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

There are an overall of seven main 3xx response status codes.

These are the different kinds of redirects available for usage:

  • 300 Multiple Options.
  • 301 Moved Completely.
  • 302 Found.
  • 303 See Other.
  • 304 Not Customized.
  • 305 Use Proxy.
  • 306 (Unused).
  • 307 Short-term Redirect.
  • 308 Irreversible Redirect.

A few of the above status codes have actually not been around as long and might not be used. So, prior to utilizing any redirect code besides 301 or 302, be sure that the intended user agent can translate it.

Because GoogleBot uses the latest variation of Chrome (called a headless 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 particular reason to use among the other codes.

301: Moved Permanently

The 301 status code is consistently referenced as the 301 redirects. However the main name is 301 Moved Permanently.

The 301 redirect shows to a user representative that the URL (often referred to as a target resource or simply resource) was altered to another place and that it must use the brand-new URL for future requests.

As pointed out previously, there is more details as well.

The 301 status code also suggests to the user agent:

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

That last point is a technical problem. According to the main standards for the 301 status code:

“Note: For historic reasons, a user agent MAY change the request method from POST to GET for the subsequent demand. If this behavior is unwanted, the 308 (Long-term Redirect) status code can be utilized instead.”

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

Prior to making a change, you should be careful when using a 301 redirect. The 301 redirects need to only be used when the modification to a brand-new URL is irreversible.

The 301 status code need to not be used when the change is momentary.

In addition, if you alter your mind later on and return to the old URL, the old URL may not rank any longer and may require time to regain the rankings.

So, the main thing to bear in mind is that a 301 status code will be utilized when the change is permanent.

302: Found

The main thing to comprehend about the 302 status code is that it’s useful for situations where a URL is temporarily altered.

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

The 302 redirect status code likewise features a technical caveat associated to GET and Post:

“Keep in mind: For historic factors, a user representative MAY change the demand 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 referral to “historical factors” might refer to old or buggy user agents that may change the request technique.

307: Temporary Redirect

A 307 redirect indicates the asked for URL is temporarily moved, and the user agent should use the initial URL for future requests.

The only distinction in between a 302 and a 307 status code is that a user representative should ask for the new URL with the same HTTP request utilized to request the initial URL.

That indicates if the user representative demands the page with a GET demand, then the user agent should use a GET ask for the brand-new temporary URL and can not use the POST request.

The Mozilla documentation of the 307 status code describes it more plainly than the main paperwork.

“The server sends this reaction to direct the client to get the requested resource at another URI with exact same approach that was used in the previous request.

This has the very same semantics as the 302 Found HTTP action code, with the exception that the user agent should not alter the HTTP approach used: if a POST was utilized in the first demand, a POST needs to be used in the second demand.”

Other than the 307 status code requiring subsequent requests to be of the exact same kind (POST or GET) which the 302 can go in any case, everything else is the exact same between the 302 and the 307 status codes.

302 Vs. 307

You may handle a redirect via server config files.htaccess on Apache, example.conf file on Nginx or through plugins if you are utilizing WordPress.

In all circumstances, they have the very same syntax for composing redirect rules. They vary just with commands used in configuration files. For instance, 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:

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

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

For example:

  • Servers status code of redirect: “301 ″ vs. “long-term.”
  • Action command: “RedirectMatch” vs. “rewrite.”

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

On Apache, guarantee that mod_rewrite and mod_alias modules (accountable for managing redirects) are enabled on your server.

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

Make sure that the.htaccess file has these 2 lines above the redirect guidelines and put the rules listed below them:

Alternatives +FollowSymlinks RewriteEngine on

Read the official documents to find out more about the RewriteEngine.

To understand the examples below, you may refer to the table below on RegExp fundamentals.

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

How To Produce Redirects

How To Produce A Redirect For A Single URL

The most typical and commonly utilized type of redirect is when deleting pages or changing URLs.

For instance, say 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 distinction in between the 2 techniques is that the very first uses the Apache mod_rewrite module, and the second uses mod_alias. It can be done using both techniques.

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

We might also use (. *), i.e., ^/ old-page(. *), however the issue is, if you have another page with a comparable URL like/ old-page-other/, it will likewise be rerouted when we only want to redirect/ 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 reroute any variation of the page URL to a new one. If we use redirect in the list below form:

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

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

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

Redirect All Except

Let’s say we have a bunch of URLs like/ category/old-subcategory -1/,/ category/old-subcategory -2/,/ category/final-subcategory/ and wish to merge all subcategories into/ category/final-subcategory/. We require the “all other than” rule here.

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

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

Directory site Modification

You can use the guideline below if you did a classification restructuring and want to move everything from the old directory to the brand-new one.

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

I utilized two guidelines: one case with no 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, but it would cause problems and add a “//” slash to the end of the URL when the requested URL with no trailing slash has a question string (i.e., “/ old-directory? utm_source=facebook” would be redirected to “/ new-directory//? utm_source=facebook”).

Remove A Word From URL

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

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

RewriteRule ^(. *)-chicago-(. *) http://% SERVER_NAME/$1-$2 [NC, R=301, L] If the example URL is in the form 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 important part of SEO.

If missing, you may endanger your site with replicate content problems since online search engine deal with URLs with “www” and “non-www” versions as different pages with the same content.

Therefore, you must ensure you run the website only with one variation you choose.

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

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

After Google’s initiative to encourage site owners to use SSL, moving to HTTPS is among the typically used redirects that almost every site has.

The reword guideline listed below can be used to force HTTPS on every site.

RewriteCond % ^ 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 integrate a www or non-www variation reroute into one HTTPS redirect rule.

Redirect From Old Domain To New

This is likewise one of the most secondhand redirects when you choose to rebrand and need to change your domain. The rule listed below reroutes old-domain. com to new-domain. com.

RewriteCond % ^ old-domain. com$ [OR] RewriteCond % ^ www.old-domain.com$ RewriteRule (. *)$ http://www.new-domain.com/$1 [R=301, L] It uses 2 cases: one with the “www” version of URLs and another “non-www” because any page for historic factors may have inbound links to both variations.

The majority of site owners utilize WordPress and might not need a.htaccess file for redirects however use a plugin instead.

Dealing with redirects using plugins might be a little different from what we talked about above. You might need to read their documentation to manage RegExp correctly for the particular plugin.

From the existing ones, I would suggest a free plugin called Redirection, which has lots of criteria to control redirect rules and many beneficial docs.

Redirect Finest Practices

1. Don’t Redirect All 404 Broken URLs To The Homepage

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

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

If you have a lot of pages like this, you must think about producing gorgeous 404 pages and engaging users to search more or find something other than what they were looking for by showing a search alternative.

It is highly recommended by Google that redirected page material need to be equivalent to the old page. Otherwise, such a redirect might be considered a soft 404, and you will lose the rank of that page.

2. Get Mobile Page-Specific Reroutes Right

If you have various 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 appropriate page of the mobile version.

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

Likewise, you have to make sure that if one page is 404 on the desktop, it should also be 404 on mobile.

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

3. How To Use Meta Refresh

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

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

Google does not forbid this redirect, however it does not suggest utilizing it.

According to John Mueller, online search engine may not be able to recognize that type of redirect correctly. The exact same is likewise true about JavaScript reroutes.

4. Prevent Redirect Chains

This message shows when you have a wrong routine expression setup and winds up in a limitless loop.

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

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

=301, NC, L] RewriteRule ^ page2/ page1 [R=301, NC, L] This will develop a limitless loop and produce the error shown above. Conclusion Understanding what

redirects are and which scenario needs a specific status code is basic to

optimizing

websites effectively. It’s a core part of understanding SEO. Numerous circumstances require exact understanding of redirects, such as moving a website to a brand-new domain or developing a short-lived holding page URL for a website that will return under its normal URL. While a lot is possible with a plugin, plugins can be misused without properly comprehending when and why to use a specific

type of redirect. More Resources: Featured Image: