Everything About Redirects and Their Features

31.10.2022

Redirects can have a great impact on SEO. However, they are often overlooked.

In this post, we’ll talk about everything you need to know about redirects, from the basics of what they are to more advanced features, their pros & cons, and their uses. 

By the end, you’ll know a lot about redirects and how they can help you improve your SEO!

So What are the Redirects Anyway?

A redirect is a way of sending traffic or users from one page to another, either on the same site or on a different site. Redirects can be used for a variety of purposes, such as directing users to the correct page if they make a mistake when typing in a URL or sending them to a different page based on their location. 

More importantly, an error page can negatively impact user experience. People will leave the page if they see it doesn’t work properly. And it is a signal to search engines that the page quality is not good. So they end up lowering its rankings. That’s why fixing any error page on your website ASAP. 

If you’d like to take advantage of the link equity and traffic of the old page, redirects can be a great option. 

There are a number of different types of redirects that you can set up to replace an error page, each with its own set of features and benefits.

Redirects can be a good solution to eliminate duplicate pages. Google doesn’t like duplicate content. That’s why you should get rid of it if you spot it. Duplicate content can really be a reason for lower rankings. Thus, you should be serious about this issue. 

One more thing you should be aware of is an open redirect vulnerability. What is this? A  vulnerability related to an open redirect means that someone could control where a person is sent when they click on a link. If the app does not check where the person is being sent, an attacker could send them to a fake site that looks real. 

Can Redirects Harm Your Site and How to Use Them Correctly?

The short answer is yes. They can. Redirects can harm your website in several ways, the most common of which are discussed below.

Redirect Chains. A redirect chain occurs when there are many redirects between the initial and destination URL. Keep in mind that redirect chains can reduce the indexation of your pages. 

Redirect Loops. A redirect loop occurs when a page is redirected to another page, which is, in turn, redirected back to the original page, creating an infinite loop. Redirect loops are common on websites that do not have a proper 404 error configured for their website. As a result, users will be unable to access any content and will see a browser error message instead.

So How Can Redirects End up Hurting Your Site?

There are many ways how redirects can actually end up hurting your website. 

  • Poor Usability. Redirects and redirect chains decrease the usability of your website. 
  • No Link Juice. If a redirect is not configured properly, it can result in a 404 error. And link juice can be lost. 
  • Slow Loading Pages. Redirects add an extra HTTP request-response cycle and increase the page load time. 
  • Reduced Crawl Budget. Redirect chains reduce the crawl budget as search engine crawlers have to go through additional steps to reach the destination URL. A lower crawl budget means your website might not get crawled as frequently as it should, which can lead to a decrease in traffic.
  • Increased Bandwidth Usage. Redirects use additional bandwidth as the HTTP request-response cycle is repeated for each redirect. 404 error issues can increase your hosting costs.
  • Redirects Can Pass on Malware. Open redirect can be used to spread malware. For example, a malicious script could be placed on a website that redirects users to a website that contains malware. It happens due to the open redirect vulnerability. 

Some people think that knowing how to use redirects correctly is an advanced SEO technique. However, if you are serious about your website’s SEO, you should be able to implement redirects properly and fix 404 error issues fast. For many professional SEOs, this is not an advanced SEO technique.  

How to Use Redirects Properly Without Harm?

Redirects are an essential part of the maintenance of any website. However, it is important to use redirects properly, as they can have a negative impact on your website if used incorrectly. 

For example, if you redirect a user too many times, they may get frustrated and leave your site. Additionally, redirects can impact your website’s search engine optimization (SEO) if not used properly.

There are a few things to keep in mind when using redirects:

  • Use redirects sparingly and only when necessary
  • Test your redirects before implementing them
  • Use the correct status code for each type of redirect
  • Be careful not to overuse HTML and JS redirects
  • Monitor your website’s performance after implementing redirects

You need to be careful about redirecting users to pages that don’t exist. If you do this, they’ll end up on a 404 page, which is not a good user experience. Make sure that the pages you’re redirecting actually to exist and that they’re relevant to what the user was looking for.

There is a lot of 301 vs 302 redirect debate. When a web browser attempts to open a URL that has been redirected, a server will respond with an HTTP status code that indicates the new location of the requested resource. There are two main types of redirects that can be used: 301 and 302.

A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect. This means that the resource’s new location is intended to be permanent, and all future requests for the old URL should be redirected to the new URL. A 301 redirect will also typically transfer any search engine rankings and PageRank from the old URL to the new URL.

A 302 redirect is a temporary redirect. This means that the resource’s new location is only intended to be temporary, and future requests for the old URL should not be redirected to the new URL. A 302 redirect will not typically transfer any search engine rankings, link equity, or PageRank from the old URL to the new URL. This type of redirect may be suitable if you want to test a new page and redirect traffic to it quickly. 

When choosing between a 301 vs 302 redirect, it is typically best to use a 301 redirect unless there is a specific reason to use a 302 redirect.

You can use a tool like Screaming Frog to check for 404 page errors on your site. If you find any, make sure to fix them as soon as possible. This will help you not to lose traffic and link equity of the old pages. 

One of the most popular methods for configuring redirects and redirect chains is using plugins. There are several WordPress plugins available that you can use to manage redirects on your website, such as Simple 301 Redirects and Redirection. Some WordPress hosting providers, such as WP Engine and SiteGround’s SG Optimizer plugin, also offer tools to manage redirects. 

The page may have moved incorrectly. So be sure to check it after you do a redirect.

If you’re not using a plugin or hosting tool to manage redirects or redirect chains, you can edit your site’s .htaccess file to configure redirects. The .htaccess file is a server configuration file that tells the server how to handle requests for files and resources on your website.

To edit your site’s .htaccess file, you’ll need to connect to your website using an FTP client, such as FileZilla or Transmit.

Once you’re connected, download a copy of the .htaccess file to your computer. Then, open the file in Notepad, TextEdit, or another text editor.

Once you have the .htaccess file open, you can add redirect rules. For example, the following code will redirect all traffic from http://example.com to https://example.com:

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You can also use the .htaccess file to redirect specific pages or resources. For example, the following code will redirect http://example.com/old-page to https://example.com/new-page:

Redirect 301 /old-page https://example.com/new-page

When you’re finished adding redirect rules, save the file and upload it to your website. Again, there is always a chance that the page may have moved improperly. So you should double-check this. 

If you follow these guidelines, you can use redirects without harming your website and losing traffic.

What are the Main Types of Redirects?

The main types of redirects are:

  • 301 redirect. Webmasters use a 301 redirect as a permanent redirect. This means that the page you are redirecting to has been moved permanently, and all traffic should be redirected to the new page.
  • 302 redirect. Webmasters use a 302 redirect as a temporary redirect. This means that the page you are redirecting to has been moved temporarily, and all traffic should be redirected to the new page. You may find a lot of discussion about 301 vs 302 redirect. In most cases, when it comes to 301 vs 302 redirect usage, you should implement 301 redirect. 
  • 303 redirect. A 303 redirect is a see-other redirect. This means that the page you are redirecting to is not the final destination, and the user should be redirected to another page.
  • 404 redirect. A 404 redirect is a not found redirect. This means that the page you are looking for does not exist, and you should be redirected to another page. You should always redirect 404 error pages not to lose link equity. Keep an eye constantly on all errors and redirect 404 pages once you spot them. 
  • Page loading error. A page loading error is an error that occurs when a page fails to load. This can be caused by a number of things, such as a bad connection, a slow server, or a problem with the page itself.
  • PHP redirect. A PHP redirect is a redirect that is created using the PHP programming language. You can use a PHP redirect to do 301 redirect or redirect 404 errors. 
  • Redirect chains. Redirect chains are created when multiple redirects are set up incorrectly. This can cause problems for users as they may be redirected to the wrong page or end up in a loop.
  • Open redirect. An open redirect is a redirect that does not check the URL of the page it is redirecting to. This can be a security risk as it could allow malicious users to redirect users to a malicious site.

When Should You Use Redirection on Your Site?

Redirects are a core part of SEO and can be a very effective tool when used correctly. They can help improve search engine rankings, pageRank, and traffic. 

Redirects can also help users find the most relevant page on your website quickly and easily. 

However, redirects can also be misused, resulting in bad UX for users, lower rankings, and loss of link equity.

There are a few different situations where redirection can be beneficial:

  • If you have recently moved your site to a new domain, you will want to redirect traffic from the old domain to the new one. This will help ensure that users can still find your site and that all your links point to the correct place.
  • If you have made changes to the structure of your site, the page may have moved. In this case, you may need to redirect users to the new pages. This will help search engines to find and index your new pages correctly. Also, the link juice from the top backlinks that point to the old pages will be passed to the new ones. 
  • If you have created a new page you want to promote, you can use redirection to send traffic directly to that page. This can be a great way to increase the visibility of your new content.
  • If you find any errors on your site, you can use redirection to send users to the correct page. This will help to improve the user experience on your site and can also help to reduce the number of redirect 404 errors that search engines find. You should always redirect 404 errors when you find them. Once you redirect 404 pages to new pages, your new pages will benefit as they will get link equity of all the top backlinks you’ve built to the old pages so far.  
  • Creating a redirect may also be a good idea if you spot duplicate content. 
  • The page may have moved if you find any page/page loading error. And you need to set up a redirect. 
  • If you find an open redirect on your site, you should fix it. Otherwise, it may result in open redirect vulnerability. 

Conclusion

Having a solid understanding of redirects is critical to any SEO strategy. Here are some pros and cons of using redirects on your website.

Pros:

  • Redirects can help visitors find the content they’re looking for, even if the URL has changed.
  • Redirects can help search engines index your site correctly.
  • Redirects can improve your site’s user experience by redirecting visitors to the most relevant content.
  • Redirects can help you direct traffic and link the juice of the old page to a new page so that you can benefit from its good SEO results. 

Cons:

  • Redirects can cause problems if used incorrectly, such as redirecting visitors to the wrong page or search engines indexing the wrong page.
  • Redirects can slow down your website if there are too many of them.
  • Redirects can be complicated to set up and manage, especially if you have a lot of content on your website.

You can use redirects to fix a variety of issues on a website. And if you use them correctly, they can have a positive impact on a website’s search engine optimization.

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