Running a website often requires frequent maintenance and attention to keep things in order. This work is more than worth it though, especially considering the massive impact providing online content can have on your brand or business. Sometimes, certain pages move, require changes, or are permanently deleted. When this happens, URL redirects are required. URL redirection also referred to as URL forwarding, is an internet technique used to enable a web page to be available under more than one URL. URL redirects are particularly helpful to online businesses when it comes to picking up domain names. Using URL redirects allows a business to grab multiple domain names and use them all to direct traffic to the same web page.
TYPES OF REDIRECTS
There are several types of server redirects that act to direct both users and search engines to other online destinations. The type of redirect will depend on the goal of the webmaster and the reason the redirect is taking place.
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Severside redirects involve little bits of content being sent to the browser so they know where to go.
As one of the most widespread redirects, a 301 redirect is used when a page has permanently moved to a new location. This results in at least 90% link equity being transferred over to the redirected page. A 301 may also be utilised when a page has been deleted. Internet browsers will cache redirected URLs and always send users to them in the future.
A 302 redirect is used to temporarily redirect traffic to a new page. It is often used when the website that the original page operates from requires maintenance. Internet browsers do not cache 302 redirects, and will therefore continue to request the original URL from servers.
A 307 is a temporary redirect that is viewed as superior to a 302. A 307 will always be viewed as temporary by search engines, and therefore they may not always redirect traffic. Due to their temporary status, internet browsers will not cache 307 URL redirects.
Client-side redirects are viewed as less user-friendly due to their slower action. Client-side redirects send code to the browser in order to redirect the client to a new URL.
META REFRESH URL REDIRECTS
Meta refreshes are redirects that take place on the page itself, instead of at the server level. Examples of these include when pages feature messages asking for users to refresh the page if they are not redirected in the allotted time. Meta refreshes are known to be slow and are not recommended due to poor usability.
WHEN TO USE REDIRECTS
Redirects can be useful in both permanent and temporary situations. They can be utilised tactically when seeking to buy up domain names similar to that of your business. Several domains can be used to redirect traffic to the same web page. Temporary redirects can also be used during periods of website maintenance to allow users access to identical pages. If a website chooses to delete content or has created an improved version of a page, permanent URL redirects can be implemented to ensure users access newer versions.
HOW URL REDIRECTS AFFECT SEO
Search engine optimisation is a key element to increasing overall web traffic by appealing to Google and other search engines. How URL redirects affect SEO depends largely on the type of redirect used. 301 redirects allow users to permanently move a page to a new URL, informing search engine bots of the change in location. As a result, Google will pass the vast majority of the link equity to the new URL, allowing the page to remain at the same rank in Search. Other redirects like 302s and meta refreshes aren’t able to transfer the rankings seamlessly from one URL to another. In fact, some webmasters choose to use these redirects in order to prevent the link equity from being transferred.