URL Reroutes For SEO: A Technical Guide

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Redirects for SEO ought to be utilized properly due to the fact that they affect how websites are crawled and indexed by Google.

While many people consider redirects as an internet detour indication, much more is taking place, and it’s surprisingly pleasurable to find.

Keep checking out for a detailed overview of redirects and the proper application for technical SEO.

What Is A Redirect?

Site redirects tell browsers and search engines info about a URL and where to discover the website.

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

A redirect can be set as a:

  • Temporary redirect: 302, 303, 307, 308.
  • Irreversible redirect: 301.

When To Utilize Redirects

The main reasons to utilize redirects are:

  • A private page or whole domain has actually been moved (URL changed).
  • To permit the use of URL shorteners or ‘pretty URLs.’
  • Site migration (e.g., HTTP to HTTPS).

For SEO functions, URL redirects are essential because they:

  • Forward authority of any links indicating a page that has actually moved or been erased.
  • Avoid 404 page not discovered errors (although often it is better to leave a 404).

Redirects can be implemented on a group or domain-wide basis but frequently need to be set on an individual basis to avoid issues.

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

Types Of Redirects

There are three main types of redirects:

  • Meta Refresh redirects are set at the page level but are normally not suggested for SEO functions. There are two types of meta redirect: delayed which is seen as a short-lived redirect, and immediate, which is viewed as a long-term redirect.
  • Javascript redirects are likewise set on the customer side’s page and can trigger SEO problems. Google has mentioned a preference for HTTP server-side reroutes.
  • HTTP redirects are set server-side and the best method for SEO functions– we covered thorough listed below.

What Is A HTTP Reaction Status Code?

Browsers and search engine spiders like GoogleBot are called user agents.

When a user agent attempts to access a webpage, what happens is that the user representative makes a request, and the site server problems a response.

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

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

For example, if the ask for a URL is successful, the server will offer a reaction code of 200, which means the ask for a URL achieved success.

So, when you think of a GoogleBot reaching a website and trying to crawl it, what’s taking place is a series of demands and actions.

HTTP Redirects

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

If the URL exists at a various URL (since it was moved), the server informs the user representative that the URL request is being rerouted to a various URL.

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

The whole 3xx series of reaction codes communicate much info that can additionally be acted on by the user representative.

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

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

3XX Series Of Status Codes

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

There are a total of seven main 3xx action status codes.

These are the different sort of redirects offered for usage:

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

Some of the above status codes have not been around as long and may not be utilized. So, before using any redirect code besides 301 or 302, make sure that the designated user representative can analyze it.

Since GoogleBot utilizes the current variation of Chrome (called a headless internet browser), it’s simple to check if a status code is compatible by inspecting if Chrome recognizes the status code with an internet browser compatibility list.

For SEO, one must adhere to using the 301 and 302 action codes unless there is a particular reason to utilize among the other codes.

301: Moved Completely

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

The 301 redirect suggests to a user representative that the URL (sometimes referred to as a target resource or just resource) was altered to another area which it need to utilize the new URL for future requests.

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

The 301 status code also recommends to the user representative:

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

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

“Note: For historical factors, a user representative MAY alter the demand method from POST to GET for the subsequent demand. If this behavior is unwanted, the 308 (Irreversible Redirect) status code can be used instead.”

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

Before making a change, you should be careful when utilizing a 301 redirect. The 301 redirects must just be utilized when the change to a brand-new URL is irreversible.

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

Additionally, if you change your mind later on and return to the old URL, the old URL might not rank any longer and might take time to gain back the rankings.

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

302: Found

The main point to understand about the 302 status code is that it’s useful for circumstances where a URL is temporarily changed.

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

The 302 redirect status code also includes a technical caution related to GET and Post:

“Keep in mind: For historical reasons, a user agent MAY change the demand technique from POST to GET for the subsequent demand. If this habits is undesired, the 307 (Short-term Redirect) status code can be utilized instead.”

The referral to “historic factors” may describe old or buggy user agents that might alter the request approach.

307: Temporary Redirect

A 307 redirect indicates the requested URL is temporarily moved, and the user agent must utilize the initial URL for future demands.

The only difference in between a 302 and a 307 status code is that a user representative should ask for the brand-new URL with the exact same HTTP request used to ask for the initial URL.

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

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

“The server sends this action to direct the client to get the asked for resource at another URI with exact same method that was used in the previous request.

This has the same semantics as the 302 Found HTTP reaction code, with the exception that the user agent must not alter the HTTP approach used: if a POST was used in the first demand, a POST needs to be utilized in the 2nd demand.”

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

302 Vs. 307

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

In all instances, they have the very same syntax for composing redirect rules. They differ just with commands used in configuration files. For instance, a redirect on Apache will look like this:

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

(You can check out symlinks here.)

On Nginx servers, it will appear like this:

reword ^/ oldfolder// newfolder/ permanent;

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

For instance:

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

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

On Apache, ensure that mod_rewrite and mod_alias modules (responsible for dealing with redirects) are allowed on your server.

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

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

Options +FollowSymlinks RewriteEngine on

Read the official paperwork to learn more about the RewriteEngine.

To comprehend the examples listed below, you may refer to the table below on RegExp essentials.

* no or more times
+ Several times
. any single character
? Zero 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 Develop Redirects

How To Produce A Redirect For A Single URL

The most common and widely used type 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 2 techniques is that the first utilizes the Apache mod_rewrite module, and the second usages mod_alias. It can be done using both techniques.

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

We could likewise use (. *), i.e., ^/ old-page(. *), however the issue is, if you have another page with a similar URL like/ old-page-other/, it will likewise be redirected 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 brand-new one. If we utilize reroute in the list below kind:

Reroute 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 network), would end up as 404s.

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

Redirect All Except

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

RewriteCond % !/ category/final-subcategory/ RewriteCond % REQUEST_FILENAME!-f RewriteRule ^(classification/)./ category/final-subcategory/ [R=301, L] Here, we want to reroute all under/ category/ on the 3rd line except if it is/ category/final-subcategory/ on the fourth line. We also have the “!-f” rule on the second line, disregarding any file like images, CSS, or JavaScript files.

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

Directory Change

You can utilize the guideline listed below if you did a category restructuring and want to move everything from the old directory site to the 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 should 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 an outcome, it will be rerouted to/ new-directory/subdirectory/.

I used 2 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 trigger issues and include a “//” slash to the end of the URL when the requested URL without any tracking slash has an inquiry string (i.e., “/ old-directory? utm_source=facebook” would be redirected to “/ new-directory//? utm_source=facebook”).

Eliminate 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 important part of SEO.

If missing out on, you might endanger your website with replicate content problems since online search engine deal with URLs with “www” and “non-www” versions as various pages with the very same content.

Therefore, you must guarantee 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/$1 [L, R=301] For a “non-www” variation: RewriteCond % ^ www.yourwebsite.com [NC] RewriteRule ^(. *)$ http://yourwebsite.com/$1 [L, R=301] Trailing slash is also part of canonicalization considering that URLs with a slash at the end or without are also treated in a different way. RewriteCond % REQUEST_FILENAME!-f RewriteRule ^(. * [^/]$/$1/ [L, R=301] This will ensure the/ example-page is rerouted to/ example-page/. You may select to remove the slash rather of adding then you will require the other guideline below: RewriteCond % !-d RewriteRule ^(. *)/$/$1 [L, R=301]HTTP To HTTPS Redirect

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

The rewrite guideline below can be utilized to force HTTPS on every site.

RewriteCond % HTTP_HOST ^ 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 combine 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 pre-owned redirects when you decide to rebrand and need to change your domain. The guideline 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 two cases: one with the “www” version of URLs and another “non-www” because any page for historic reasons may have inbound links to both versions.

A lot of website owners utilize WordPress and might not require a.htaccess declare redirects but utilize a plugin rather.

Managing redirects using plugins might be a little various from what we discussed above. You might require to read their documents to handle RegExp properly for the particular plugin.

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

Redirect Best Practices

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

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

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

If you have a lot of pages like this, you must consider developing stunning 404 pages and engaging users to search more or discover something besides what they were trying to find by showing a search alternative.

It is highly advised by Google that rerouted 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 Redirects Right

If you have various URLs for desktop and mobile websites (i.e., “example.com” for desktop and “m.example.com” for mobile), you need to make certain to reroute users to the appropriate page of the mobile variation.

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

Also, you need to make sure that if one page is 404 on the desktop, it must also be 404 on mobile.

If you have no mobile variation for a page, you can avoid redirecting 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 refresh tag like the example below:

If you insert this tag in/ old-page/, it will reroute the user instantly to/ new-page/.

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

According to John Mueller, search engines may not have the ability to acknowledge that type of redirect effectively. The very same is also real about JavaScript redirects.

4. Avoid Redirect Chains

This message displays when you have an incorrect routine expression setup and winds up in an infinite loop.

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

page 1 is rerouted and chosen to redirect page 2 to page 1 again. As a result, 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 produce an infinite loop and produce the error shown above. Conclusion Knowing what

redirects are and which situation requires a particular status code is essential to

optimizing

websites properly. It’s a core part of understanding SEO. Lots of situations need exact knowledge of redirects, such as moving a website to a brand-new domain or developing a short-lived holding page URL for a webpage that will return under its typical URL. While a lot is possible with a plugin, plugins can be misused without appropriately understanding when and why to utilize a specific

type of redirect. More Resources: Featured Image: