Redirects are used to tell visitors or web crawlers where to go if the page they are requesting is no longer available for one reason or another. Although this concept is fairly simple, many website developers use redirects incorrectly, which can severely impact the website’s performance as well as its SEO ranking.
Reasons to Use Redirects
There are a number of reasons why web developers would need to use a redirect, including but not limited to:
- Moving or deleting a page
- Buying a new domain and redirecting all of the pages on your old site to the new one
- Merging two websites into one
- Updating the website’s CMS platform
- Directing the visitor to a new destination
When you use redirects correctly, the visitor won’t even notice they’ve been taken to another page, but if you make a mistake, you could affect your Google ranking and referral traffic.
Types of Redirects
There are various types of redirects that should be used in different situations. If you need to redirect a page or multiple pages on your website, think carefully about which type you need to use so you don’t damage the domain authority and SEO ranking of your website.
This redirect should be used when you’re permanently deleting a page and moving it to another location, and you don’t want to mess with your SEO ranking. Web developers can update the redirect at any time to bring visitors to a new place. This is the redirect type that you want to implement most of the time for 90% of your redirect needs.
302 Temporary Redirects
Although this is an option, you really shouldn’t have any use for it. The temporary redirect does not give you the same SEO benefits as the 301 permanent redirect, plus it can actually cause duplicate content to show up in search engine results. This is because Google will read it as a temporary redirect, not a permanent one, and will retain the old content as well as the new.
307 Temporary Redirect
Although this is a temporary redirect, just like the 302 redirect, this one is much more useful. The 307 redirect is used to make sure visitors to the site do not refresh a page multiple times that contains sensitive data, such as credit card information entered during the checkout process of an e-commerce website.
When visitors see this message, it means the website can’t be reached on the server. This could either mean you typed in the URL incorrectly, or the website or page has been deleted or moved, and the web developer did not properly redirect it. Think of the 404 error as a way of telling visitors the website or web page no longer exists. When web developers spot a 404 error, they should move quickly to correct it. Your website will lose traffic with 404 errors because visitors will be at a dead end with no direction on where the web page has gone or how to find it.
To avoid this issue, the very least web developers could do is to create a custom 404 page. Even though visitors still won’t be able to access the content they requested, they will still be able to navigate to other pages on your website. If you don’t do this, your 404 error page could be all white with just the words “404 error.”
If your website has content indexed that shouldn’t be, use a 410 error redirect, which will tell Google never to visit this page again because it no longer exists. This can be done if your company no longer offers a particular service and doesn’t want to show up in search results for it anymore. The page can be turned into a 410 error redirect, so Google doesn’t include it in the results.
How to Check Redirects
Web developers should become familiar with different tools that can be used to check for redirect errors and issues.
Link Redirect Trace
This Chrome browser extension allows web developers to check for any broken or incorrect redirects on their website. If any redirects are used that are not SEO-friendly, the tool will alert you so you can promptly make changes and preserve your SEO ranking. This is especially helpful if you have recently moved websites or deleted old pages on your website and need to check to make sure everything was redirected properly.
Google Search Console
The Google Search Console allows web developers to check for 404 errors and correct them without manually searching through each page. By validating your site and logging into the Google Search Console, you can quickly and easily spot issues that Google is having when attempting to crawl your site.
This website allows you to copy and paste a URL to check for redirects. If there are any, it will give you the status code associated with the URL and map the path of your redirects so you can easily check for errors.
As long as you keep an eye on your redirects with one of these tools, you shouldn’t have any issues spotting mistakes and correcting them before they impact your SEO ranking. By being aware of redirects, you can preserve your hard-earned domain authority and make sure you are not losing organic traffic by leaking authority points due to incorrect redirects or broken pages.