URL Reroutes For SEO: A Technical Guide

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Redirects for SEO ought to be utilized correctly since they affect how websites are crawled and indexed by Google.

While the majority of people consider redirects as an internet detour sign, a lot more is taking place, and it’s remarkably enjoyable to find.

Keep checking out for a comprehensive summary of redirects and the appropriate application for technical SEO.

What Is A Redirect?

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

A URL redirect involves code carried out 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 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 factors to use redirects are:

  • A private page or entire domain has been moved (URL altered).
  • To allow the usage of URL shorteners or ‘quite URLs.’
  • Website migration (e.g., HTTP to HTTPS).

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

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

Redirects can be implemented on a group or domain-wide basis but often need to be set on a specific basis to prevent problems.

When using RegEX for group reroutes, it can have unforeseen results if your reasoning isn’t perfect!

Kinds of Redirects

There are 3 main types of redirects:

  • Meta Refresh redirects are set at the page level but are generally not suggested for SEO functions. There are 2 kinds of meta redirect: delayed which is seen as a momentary redirect, and instant, which is seen as a permanent redirect.
  • Javascript redirects are also set on the customer side’s page and can trigger SEO problems. Google has actually mentioned a preference for HTTP server-side redirects.
  • HTTP redirects are set server-side and the best method for SEO purposes– we covered in-depth listed below.

What Is A HTTP Reaction Status Code?

Web browsers and online search engine crawlers like GoogleBot are called user agents.

When a user agent attempts to access a webpage, what takes place is that the user representative makes a request, and the website server issues an action.

The response is called an HTTP reaction status code. It offers a status for the request for a URL.

In the scenario where a user agent like GoogleBot requests a URL, the server gives a reaction.

For instance, if the request for a URL is successful, the server will provide a response code of 200, which suggests the request for a URL achieved success.

So, when you think about a GoogleBot reaching a site and attempting to crawl it, what’s taking place is a series of requests and responses.

HTTP Redirects

An HTTP redirect is a server action to ask for a URL.

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

The reaction code for an altered URL is usually in the kind of a 301 or 302 response status code.

The entire 3xx series of reaction codes communicate much details that can optionally be acted on by the user agent.

An example of an action that the user agent can take is to conserve a cache of the new URL so that the next time the old URL is asked for, it will request the new URL rather.

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

3XX Series Of Status Codes

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

There are a total of 7 main 3xx response status codes.

These are the various type of redirects available for use:

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

Some of the above status codes have actually not been around as long and may not be used. So, before utilizing any redirect code besides 301 or 302, make sure that the desired user representative can translate it.

Due to the fact that GoogleBot utilizes the latest variation of Chrome (called a headless internet browser), it’s simple to check if a status code works by inspecting if Chrome acknowledges the status code with an internet browser compatibility list.

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

301: Moved Completely

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

The 301 redirect suggests to a user agent that the URL (sometimes described as a target resource or simply resource) was changed to another location and that it ought to use the brand-new URL for future demands.

As mentioned earlier, there is more info also.

The 301 status code also suggests to the user representative:

  • Future ask for the URL ought to be made with the brand-new URL.
  • Whoever is making the request needs to upgrade their links to the brand-new URL.
  • Subsequent demands can be changed from GET to POST.

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

“Keep in mind: For historic reasons, a user agent MAY change the demand approach from POST to GET for the subsequent request. If this habits is undesired, the 308 (Permanent Redirect) status code can be used rather.”

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 only be utilized when the modification to a new URL is permanent.

The 301 status code must not be utilized when the modification is temporary.

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

So, the main point to bear in mind is that a 301 status code will be utilized when the modification is permanent.

302: Found

The main point to comprehend about the 302 status code is that it works for circumstances where a URL is briefly changed.

The meaning of this response 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 features a technical caveat related to GET and Post:

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

The referral to “historical reasons” may describe old or buggy user representatives that might change the request method.

307: Temporary Redirect

A 307 redirect implies the asked for URL is briefly moved, and the user representative must use the initial URL for future requests.

The only difference between a 302 and a 307 status code is that a user representative need to ask for the new URL with the very same HTTP request utilized to request the original URL.

That implies if the user agent requests the page with a GET demand, then the user agent should utilize a GET request for the new short-lived URL and can not use the POST demand.

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

“The server sends this response to direct the customer to get the requested resource at another URI with same approach that was used in the previous demand.

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

Aside from the 307 status code requiring subsequent demands to be of the exact same kind (POST or GET) which the 302 can go in either case, whatever else is the exact same between the 302 and the 307 status codes.

302 Vs. 307

You might manage a redirect through server config files.htaccess on Apache, example.conf file on Nginx or through plugins if you are using WordPress.

In all circumstances, they have the exact same syntax for writing redirect guidelines. They differ just with commands used in configuration files. For example, a redirect on Apache will look like this:

Options +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 used to tell the server’s status code of redirect and the action command vary.

For example:

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

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

On Apache, ensure that mod_rewrite and mod_alias modules (accountable for managing redirects) are allowed on your server.

Because the most commonly 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 guidelines and put the guidelines listed below them:

Options +FollowSymlinks RewriteEngine on

Read the main documents to learn more about the RewriteEngine.

To understand the examples below, you might refer to the table listed below on RegExp basics.

* no 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 Develop Redirects

How To Develop A Redirect For A Single URL

The most typical and commonly used type of redirect is when deleting pages or altering URLs.

For example, state you altered the URL from/ old-page/ to/ new-page/. The redirect guideline would be:

RewriteRule ^ old-page(/? |/. *)$/ new-page/ [R=301, L] Or RedirectMatch 301 ^/ old-page(/? |/. *)$/ new-page/

The only difference between the 2 techniques is that the first utilizes the Apache mod_rewrite module, and the 2nd usages mod_alias. It can be done utilizing both techniques.

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

We could likewise utilize (. *), i.e., ^/ old-page(. *), but the issue is, if you have another page with a similar URL like/ old-page-other/, it will also 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 reroute in the list below kind:

Redirect 301/ old-page// new-page/

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

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

Redirect All Except

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

RewriteCond % REQUEST_URI!/ category/final-subcategory/ RewriteCond % REQUEST_FILENAME!-f RewriteRule ^(category/)./ category/final-subcategory/ [R=301, L] Here, we want to reroute all under/ category/ on the third line other than if it is/ category/final-subcategory/ on the fourth line. We likewise have the “!-f” rule on the 2nd line, overlooking any file like images, CSS, or JavaScript files.

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

Directory site Change

You can utilize the guideline below if you did a classification restructuring and want to move whatever 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 used $1 in the target to inform the server that it ought 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 destination. As an outcome, it will be redirected to/ new-directory/subdirectory/.

I utilized 2 guidelines: one case without any trailing slash at the end and the other one with a tracking slash.

I could integrate them into one rule using (/? |. *)$ RegExp at the end, however it would cause problems and include a “//” slash to the end of the URL when the asked for URL with no trailing slash has a query string (i.e., “/ old-directory? utm_source=facebook” would be redirected to “/ new-directory//? utm_source=facebook”).

Get rid of A Word From URL

Let’s state you have 100 URLs on your website with the city name “Chicago” and wish to remove 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 form http://yourwebiste.com/example/chicago/event/, then the redirect would be: RewriteRule ^(. *)/ chicago/(. *) http://% /$1/$2 [NC, R=301, L] Set A Canonical URL

Having canonical URLs is the most vital part of SEO.

If missing, you might endanger your site with duplicate content concerns since online search engine deal with URLs with “www” and “non-www” versions as various pages with the exact same content.

Therefore, you should guarantee you run the site just with one version you choose.

If you want to run your site with the “www” variation, utilize this rule:

RewriteCond % ^ yourwebsite.com [NC] RewriteRule ^(. *)$ http://www.yourwebsite.com/$1 [L, R=301] For a “non-www” version: RewriteCond % HTTP_HOST ^ www.yourwebsite.com [NC] RewriteRule ^(. *)$ http://yourwebsite.com/$1 [L, R=301] Tracking slash is likewise part of canonicalization given that URLs with a slash at the end or without are also treated differently. RewriteCond % !-f RewriteRule ^(. * [^/]$/$1/ [L, R=301] This will make certain the/ example-page is rerouted to/ example-page/. You might select to get rid of the slash rather of adding then you will need the other rule listed below: RewriteCond % REQUEST_FILENAME!-d RewriteRule ^(. *)/$/$1 [L, R=301]HTTP To HTTPS Redirect

After Google’s initiative to encourage website owners to utilize SSL, migrating to HTTPS is among the commonly used redirects that practically every site has.

The rewrite guideline below can be utilized to require 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] Using this, you can combine a www or non-www version redirect into one HTTPS redirect rule.

Redirect From Old Domain To New

This is also among the most pre-owned redirects when you choose to rebrand and need to alter your domain. The rule listed below redirects 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 uses two cases: one with the “www” variation of URLs and another “non-www” due to the fact that any page for historic reasons might have incoming links to both versions.

Many website owners use WordPress and might not need a.htaccess declare redirects however utilize a plugin instead.

Managing redirects using plugins might be somewhat different from what we went over above. You might need to read their documents to deal with RegExp properly for the particular plugin.

From the existing ones, I would suggest a free plugin called Redirection, which has lots of criteria to control redirect rules and lots of useful docs.

Reroute Finest Practices

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

This case frequently occurs when you are too lazy to investigate your 404 URLs and map them to the suitable 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 consider producing beautiful 404 pages and engaging users to search further or find something aside from what they were looking for by displaying a search option.

It is highly advised by Google that redirected page material need to be equivalent to the old page. Otherwise, such a redirect may be thought about a soft 404, and you will lose the rank of that page.

2. Get Mobile Page-Specific Reroutes Right

If you have different URLs for desktop and mobile sites (i.e., “example.com” for desktop and “m.example.com” for mobile), you should ensure to reroute users to the proper page of the mobile variation.

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

Also, you need to ensure that if one page is 404 on the desktop, it should also be 404 on mobile.

If you have no mobile variation for a page, you can prevent 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 listed below:

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

Google does not prohibit this redirect, however it does not suggest using it.

According to John Mueller, search engines may not be able to recognize that type of redirect properly. The exact same is also real about JavaScript reroutes.

4. Prevent Redirect Chains

This message displays when you have a wrong routine expression setup and ends up in an infinite loop.

Screenshot by author, December 2022 Generally, this happens when you have a redirect chain. Let’s state you rerouted page 1 to page 2 a long period of time earlier. You might have forgotten that

page 1 is rerouted and decided to redirect page 2 to page 1 once 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 create an unlimited loop and produce the mistake shown above. Conclusion Understanding what

redirects are and which scenario requires a specific status code is essential to

optimizing

websites appropriately. It’s a core part of understanding SEO. Many scenarios need precise understanding of redirects, such as moving a site to a new domain or producing a temporary holding page URL for a web page 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 utilize a specific

sort of redirect. More Resources: Included Image: