URL Redirects For SEO: A Technical Guide

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

While many people think about redirects as an internet detour indication, much more is happening, and it’s surprisingly pleasurable to find.

Keep checking out for a thorough summary 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 find the web page.

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

A redirect can be set as a:

  • Short-term redirect: 302, 303, 307, 308.
  • Irreversible redirect: 301.

When To Use Redirects

The primary reasons to use redirects are:

  • A specific page or whole domain has actually been moved (URL changed).
  • To allow the use of URL shorteners or ‘quite URLs.’
  • Website migration (e.g., HTTP to HTTPS).

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

  • Forward authority of any links pointing to a page that has actually moved or been erased.
  • Prevent 404 page not found mistakes (although in some cases it is better to leave a 404).

Redirects can be executed on a group or domain-wide basis however typically need to be set on an individual basis to avoid concerns.

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

Types Of Redirects

There are three main kinds of redirects:

  • Meta Refresh redirects are set at the page level but are typically not advised for SEO purposes. There are 2 kinds of meta redirect: postponed which is seen as a temporary redirect, and instant, which is seen as a long-term redirect.
  • Javascript redirects are also set on the customer side’s page and can cause SEO concerns. Google has mentioned a preference for HTTP server-side reroutes.
  • HTTP redirects are set server-side and the very best approach for SEO functions– we covered in-depth below.

What Is A HTTP Action Status Code?

Browsers and online search engine crawlers like GoogleBot are called user representatives.

When a user representative tries to access a webpage, what takes place is that the user agent makes a request, and the site server problems a reaction.

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

In the situation where a user representative like GoogleBot demands a URL, the server gives a reaction.

For instance, if the ask for a URL is successful, the server will supply an action code of 200, which indicates the ask for a URL was successful.

So, when you consider a GoogleBot reaching a site and trying to crawl it, what’s occurring is a series of requests and responses.

HTTP Redirects

An HTTP redirect is a server action to request a URL.

If the URL exists at a various URL (because it was moved), the server tells the user representative that the URL demand is being redirected to a various URL.

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

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

An example of an action that the user representative can take is to save a cache of the brand-new URL so that the next time the old URL is requested, it will request for the new URL instead.

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

3XX Series Of Status Codes

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

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

These are the different kinds of redirects readily available for usage:

  • 300 Numerous Choices.
  • 301 Moved Completely.
  • 302 Found.
  • 303 See Other.
  • 304 Not Modified.
  • 305 Usage Proxy.
  • 306 (Unused).
  • 307 Temporary Redirect.
  • 308 Long-term Redirect.

A few of the above status codes have actually not been around as long and might not be used. So, before utilizing any redirect code aside from 301 or 302, make certain that the designated user agent can interpret it.

Since GoogleBot uses the latest variation of Chrome (called a headless browser), it’s simple to examine if a status code is compatible by checking if Chrome recognizes the status code with a web browser compatibility list.

For SEO, one must stay with using the 301 and 302 reaction codes unless there is a particular factor to use one of the other codes.

301: Moved Completely

The 301 status code is consistently referenced as the 301 redirects. But the official name is 301 Moved Completely.

The 301 redirect indicates to a user representative that the URL (in some cases described as a target resource or merely resource) was altered to another place which it need to utilize the brand-new URL for future demands.

As discussed earlier, there is more information as well.

The 301 status code likewise suggests to the user agent:

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

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

“Keep in mind: For historic factors, a user representative MAY change the request approach from POST to GET for the subsequent request. If this behavior is undesirable, the 308 (Irreversible Redirect) status code can be used rather.”

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

Before making a change, you should beware when utilizing a 301 redirect. The 301 redirects need to just be used when the modification to a brand-new URL is long-term.

The 301 status code should not be utilized when the change is short-term.

Furthermore, if you alter your mind later and go back to the old URL, the old URL might not rank any longer and might take some time to regain the rankings.

So, the main point to keep in mind is that a 301 status code will be used when the modification is long-term.

302: Found

The main thing to understand about the 302 status code is that it works for circumstances where a URL is temporarily altered.

The meaning of this action code is that the URL is temporarily at a various URL, and it is recommended to utilize the old URL for future demands.

The 302 redirect status code also comes with a technical caveat related to GET and Post:

“Keep in mind: For historic reasons, a user representative MAY alter the request technique from POST to GET for the subsequent request. If this behavior is undesired, the 307 (Short-lived Redirect) status code can be used rather.”

The reference to “historical reasons” may describe old or buggy user agents that may change the demand approach.

307: Temporary Redirect

A 307 redirect means the asked for URL is momentarily moved, and the user representative ought to utilize the original URL for future demands.

The only difference in between a 302 and a 307 status code is that a user agent must request the brand-new URL with the very same HTTP demand used to request the original URL.

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

The Mozilla paperwork of the 307 status code explains it more clearly than the official documents.

“The server sends this response to direct the customer to get the asked for resource at another URI with same method that was utilized in the prior request.

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

Besides the 307 status code requiring subsequent requests to be of the very same kind (POST or GET) and that the 302 can go either way, everything else is the exact same between the 302 and the 307 status codes.

302 Vs. 307

You might manage a redirect via server config files.htaccess on Apache, example.conf file on Nginx or by means of plugins if you are utilizing WordPress.

In all circumstances, they have the very same syntax for composing redirect guidelines. They vary just with commands utilized in setup files. For example, a redirect on Apache will look like this:

Choices +FollowSymlinks RewriteEngine on RedirectMatch 301 ^/ oldfolder// newfolder/

(You can read about symlinks here.)

On Nginx servers, it will look like this:

reword ^/ oldfolder// newfolder/ irreversible;

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

For instance:

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

But the redirect syntax (^/ oldfolder// newfolder/) is the exact same for both.

On Apache, guarantee that mod_rewrite and mod_alias modules (accountable for dealing with 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 two lines above the redirect rules and put the rules below them:

Options +FollowSymlinks RewriteEngine on

Read the official paperwork to read more about the RewriteEngine.

To comprehend the examples below, you may describe the table below on RegExp essentials.

* zero or more times
+ One or more times
. any single character
? No or one time
^ Start of the string
$ End of the string
| b OR operadn” |” a or b
(z) keeps in mind the match to be used when calling $1

How To Create Redirects

How To Produce A Redirect For A Single URL

The most common and commonly utilized kind of redirect is when deleting pages or changing URLs.

For example, state 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 between the two methods is that the very first utilizes the Apache mod_rewrite module, and the 2nd usages mod_alias. It can be done using both methods.

The regular expression “^” implies the URL must start with “/ old-page” while (/? |/. *)$ suggests that anything that follows “/ old-page/” with a slash “/” or without a precise match should be rerouted to/ new-page/.

We might also use (. *), i.e., ^/ old-page(. *), however the problem is, if you have another page with a similar URL like/ old-page-other/, it will likewise be rerouted when we just wish to redirect/ old-page/.

The following URLs will match and be directed to a 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 following kind:

Reroute 301/ old-page// new-page/

Without regular expressions, all URLs with UTM inquiry string, e.g.,/ old-page? utm_source=facebook.com (which prevails considering that URLs are used to be shared over a social network), would wind up as 404s.

Even/ old-page without a tracking slash “/” would wind up as a 404.

Redirect All Other than

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

RewriteCond % !/ category/final-subcategory/ RewriteCond % !-f RewriteRule ^(classification/)./ category/final-subcategory/ [R=301, L] Here, we wish to redirect all under/ classification/ on the third line except if it is/ category/final-subcategory/ on the 4th line. We likewise have the “!-f” rule on the second line, ignoring any file like images, CSS, or JavaScript files.

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

Directory Change

You can utilize the rule listed 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 location. As a result, it will be rerouted to/ new-directory/subdirectory/.

I used two guidelines: one case without any routing slash at the end and the other one with a routing slash.

I could combine them into one rule utilizing (/? |. *)$ RegExp at the end, but it would trigger problems and add a “//” slash to the end of the URL when the requested URL without any routing slash has a query string (i.e., “/ old-directory? utm_source=facebook” would be rerouted to “/ new-directory//? utm_source=facebook”).

Remove A Word From URL

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

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

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

If missing out on, you might threaten your website with replicate content concerns due to the fact that search engines deal with URLs with “www” and “non-www” versions as different pages with the very same content.

For that reason, you should ensure you run the website just with one version you choose.

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

RewriteCond % HTTP_HOST ^ yourwebsite.com [NC] RewriteRule ^(. *)$ http://www.yourwebsite.com/$1 [L, R=301] For a “non-www” variation: RewriteCond % HTTP_HOST ^ www.yourwebsite.com [NC] RewriteRule ^(. *)$ http://yourwebsite.com/$1 [L, R=301] Trailing slash is likewise part of canonicalization since URLs with a slash at the end or without are likewise treated in a different way. RewriteCond % REQUEST_FILENAME!-f RewriteRule ^(. * [^/]$/$1/ [L, R=301] This will ensure the/ example-page is redirected to/ example-page/. You might choose to eliminate the slash rather of including then you will require the other guideline listed below: RewriteCond % REQUEST_FILENAME!-d RewriteRule ^(. *)/$/$1 [L, R=301]HTTP To HTTPS Redirect

After Google’s effort to motivate website owners to use SSL, moving to HTTPS is one of the frequently used redirects that nearly every site has.

The reword guideline listed below can be utilized to force HTTPS on every website.

RewriteCond % ^ yourwebsite.com [NC, OR] RewriteCond % ^ www.yourwebsite.com [NC] RewriteRule ^(. *)$ https://www.yourwebsite.com/$1 [L, R=301, NC] Using this, you can integrate a www or non-www variation redirect into one HTTPS redirect rule.

Redirect From Old Domain To New

This is likewise one of the most pre-owned redirects when you choose to rebrand and need to alter your domain. The guideline below reroutes old-domain. com to new-domain. com.

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

Most website owners utilize WordPress and may not need a.htaccess apply for redirects however use a plugin instead.

Managing redirects utilizing plugins might be slightly different from what we discussed above. You might require to read their documentation to deal with RegExp correctly for the particular plugin.

From the existing ones, I would suggest a totally free plugin called Redirection, which has many parameters to manage redirect guidelines and many useful docs.

Reroute Finest Practices

1. Do not Redirect All 404 Broken URLs To The Homepage

This case often takes place when you are too lazy to investigate your 404 URLs and map them to the appropriate landing page.

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

If you have a lot of pages like this, you need to think about creating stunning 404 pages and engaging users to browse additional or discover something other than what they were trying to find by displaying a search option.

It is highly recommended by Google that redirected page material should be comparable 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 should make certain to reroute users to the appropriate page of the mobile version.

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

Likewise, you have to ensure 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 redirecting to the mobile version 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 insert this tag in/ old-page/, it will reroute the user immediately to/ new-page/.

Google does not prohibit this redirect, however it doesn’t advise utilizing it.

According to John Mueller, online search engine may not be able to recognize that kind of redirect appropriately. The exact same is also real about JavaScript redirects.

4. Avoid Redirect Chains

This message displays when you have an incorrect regular expression setup and ends up in a limitless loop.

Screenshot by author, December 2022 Generally, this takes place when you have a redirect chain. Let’s state you rerouted page 1 to page 2 a very long time back. You might have forgotten that

page 1 is redirected and decided to reroute page 2 to page 1 once again. As a result, you will end up with a guideline like this: RewriteRule ^ page1/ page2 [R

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

redirects are and which situation requires a specific status code is basic to

optimizing

webpages appropriately. It’s a core part of comprehending SEO. Numerous situations need precise knowledge of redirects, such as moving a site to a new domain or creating a short-term 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 understanding when and why to use a specific

type of redirect. More Resources: Featured Image: