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what are redirects

What Are Redirects And How To Use Them Properly?

In response to the question, "What Are Redirects, And How To Use Them Properly?" Redirects are a crucial tool for website owners, allowing them to forward visitors or search engines from an old URL to a new one. 

In this post, seobase explores the various reasons you should use redirects. This will include different types of redirects and how to use them correctly. We'll also cover common mistakes to avoid and tips on how to create redirect links, check website redirects, and even how to stop website redirects

Whether new to this subject or not, this blog post from seobase will provide valuable information to help improve your website's SEO.

 

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What Are Redirects?

A redirect is when you take the users from one URL to another. For example, when users enter https://www.seobase.com/ and are taken to https://seobase.com/.    Sometimes, the difference between the two URLs may be insignificant to the user. However, in other cases, users may search for a specific page or product and find themselves on another website's main page.  This type of SEO redirection is a colossal mistake and makes users frustrated. Webmasters may use redirects for various reasons. Such as; 

  • revamping the website's structure, 
  • updating the URL of a specific page, 
  • redirecting traffic from an old website to a new one.

Why Use Redirects?

Web admins use redirects for various reasons, and it is crucial to understand them. Web admins can achieve different goals by redirecting a user to another URL. To fully understand the purpose of redirects, it is helpful to take a closer look at the various reasons web admins use them.

Bringing users to the main version of a website.

Some websites may use HTTPS protocols, while others may use HTTP. For example, if a website's main version is https://seobase.com/, a redirect would automatically redirect users who enter alternative URLs such as http://seobase.com/ or http://www.seobase.com/ to the main version.  To check website redirects, you can look for the URLs or perform an internal redirect.  A 304 redirect is a specific type that tells a user's browser to use a cached version of a page instead of requesting it again. To stop website redirecting, one can use removing tools or remove the code that causes them.

Avoiding duplicate pages.

Web admins mostly use redirects to prevent duplicate pages from appearing on their websites. This happens when multiple pages contain the same content.  In this case, webmasters may delete one of the duplicate pages and set up a redirect to the original page. This ensures that users are on the correct page and eliminates the problem of duplicate content.  There are many situations where you can use redirects to prevent duplication. Some of the most common ones include different protocols and www prefixes in the URL.

Redirecting URLs with a trailing slash to URLs with no trailing slash

Users who enter a URL may not include the trailing slash at the end. However, browsers may automatically add it due to redirects.  As webmasters, it is crucial to decide whether or not to use trailing slashes to avoid duplicate content issues. Although having or not having a trailing slash at the end of the domain name does not make a difference, it can cause issues regarding file names.  For example, if example.com/fish and example.com/fish/ both lead to the same page, it creates a duplicate content issue. To solve this problem, webmasters can use a canonical tag or set up redirects to direct users to the correct version of the page. 

how to forward url to another URL

Redirecting URLs with file extensions

To ensure that you direct the users to the correct page version, it is crucial to implement redirects when the URL includes a file extension, such as .html, .htm, .php, or .aspx. For example, if you want users to be directed to https://site.com/page.html instead of https://site.com/page/, it is recommended to use redirects. 

Redirecting an uppercase URL to a lowercase URL

Regarding URLs, it's essential to be mindful of the case sensitivity of characters after the domain name.  This means that "https://site.com/PAGE/" and "https://site.com/page/" are two different URLs. Furthermore, we highly recommend using lowercase characters.  To avoid duplicate content, it is a good idea to use redirects to forward users from the uppercase URL to the lowercase URL.  For example, if you want https://site.com/PAGE/ to redirect to https://site.com/page/ to avoid duplication.

Maintaining the link juice and traffic of an old URL.

Redirects are a way to forward traffic and links from one URL to another. This is useful when changing a URL for various reasons, such as moving to a new CMS, changing your website structure, or removing duplicate pages.  By redirecting an old URL, such as https://site.com/festivals-2023, to a unique URL, like https://site.com/festivals, you can ensure that users are on the most relevant page and that link juice works well. You can use methods such as internal redirects or setting up a link. Also, you can check website redirects to ensure they are all in the correct locations.  A "304" is a type that tells a browser to use the cached page version. If you want to stop website redirects, you can remove the code from your website or use a tool to block it.

Merging several domains into a new one.

If you change your website's domain, you must navigate visitors and search engine crawlers from the previous website to the new one. You can achieve this by using redirects, which web administrators commonly use in this situation.

Types of Redirects

The most common type of redirect is HTTP, which shows the main website version. Furthermore, it avoids duplicate content and maintains link equity. However, there are also HTML and JavaScript types. It would help if you used these both cautiously, as search engines may not welcome them.  It is possible to check website redirects and stop them using internal or 304 techniques. Additionally, you can create a redirect link to forward a URL to another URL. The web page loading process includes the following steps: 

HTTP redirect.

HTTP is a process where a server sends a 3xx status code to a browser after a user requests a URL The 3xx status code urges the browser to display another page and redirects the user to a new URL There are several types of 3xx status codes, including:

  • 301: Moved Permanently
  • 302: Found / Moved Temporarily
  • 303: See Other
  • 304: Not Modified
  • 307: Temporary Redirect
  • 308: Permanent Redirect

Webmasters often use 301 for SEO as it strengthens the backlink profile of a new page. 

how to make redirect link

HTML redirects.

Another way to redirect users from one page to another is by using a special <meta> tag in the page's HTML code, such as: <meta http-equiv="refresh" content="0; url=https://site.com/"> This method initiates the redirection process as soon as the browser downloads the page's HTML code.

Here are the attributes in the tag:

  • http-equiv—indicates the type of data sent to a browser
  • refresh—instructs a web browser to refresh a web page automatically
  • content—defines the amount of time before a browser redirects to a new URL
  • url—defines which document must be uploaded 

It is important to note that when a browser encounters the refresh meta tag in the HTML code, it automatically updates the URL in the same window after a certain amount of time. In other words, the page can reload automatically without any user action. However, the user may not notice the change if you implement the redirect quickly enough.

Drawbacks of using meta refresh tags:

  • Unlike 301, HTML don't allow users to keep all the link juice they worked so hard for.
  • Search engines can index the wrong piece of content.
  • Meta redirect can be viewed as a lousy optimization practice, and your website may get search engine penalties.
  • Such redirects can confuse users, as they need help to control the reloading process.

Given the drawbacks of HTML, using them to address any issues is not recommended, except as a last resort when server redirects cannot be implemented. However, using such redirects only as a last resort when there is no way to implement the server redirect. 

There are certain situations where you might use a meta-refresh redirect, such as:

  • Creating a "Thank you" page not indexed by search engines automatically opens after a user takes a specific action on your website.
  • Redirecting users within the shopping cart on an eCommerce website.
  • Converting external links into internal ones. For example, if you want to avoid having direct links like <a href="https://sitewelinkto.com/">https://sitewelinkto.com/</a> on your forum, you can use links like <ahref="https://mysite.com/redirect.php?=https://sitewelinkto.com/">https://sitewelinkto.com/</a> by applying a meta-refresh redirect.

It allows you to change all external links into internal ones.

JavaScript redirects.

JavaScript redirects can be implemented at the final stages of page load and do not return a status code 301 like server redirects. To redirect a page using JavaScript, use window.location object. JavaScript redirects can be used for the same purposes as HTML. However, there are some drawbacks to using JavaScript:

  • If a user disables JavaScript, it will not work.
  • Crawlers need to render a page to find the redirect.
  • Search engines may index the wrong content, so if you want to ensure the new URL is indexed and retains link juice, it is better to use a server redirect.

What redirects have a higher priority?

HTTP is the most popular and widely used type of redirect, generally considered to have the highest priority. If it's impossible to use HTTP, HTML can be an alternative. This is done by setting the content attribute to 0 seconds in the meta tag, which causes the redirect to start immediately after the browser sees the tag in the code of a web page. You can use JavaScript as a last resort, which will only work if the client has enabled JavaScript in their browser. It would help if you use HTTP first, then HTML, and finally, JavaScript as a last resort.

Permanent redirects.

Permanent redirects are a type that tells a browser or search engine that a web page has been permanently moved to a new URL. 

301 redirect (Moved Permanently)

The 301 is a method to inform browsers and search engines that a webpage has been permanently moved to a new URL.  Also, you can apply this by sending a 301 response status code. This tells search engines to update their indexed links to the new URL and pass on any link equity or "link juice" from the old URL to the new one.  This helps maintain the page's search engine rankings and avoid traffic loss. You can use this method in website redesigns, restructuring, or domain name changes to avoid duplicate content and migrate to new domains. Furthermore, redirect all traffic and link equity to the new addresses.

308 redirect (Permanent Redirect) 

The 308 status code indicates that a page has been permanently moved and redirects to its new location. It is similar to a 301 but does not allow changing the request method from POST to GET. This code should be used when the page contains HTML forms that use the POST method or only the POST method is required.

Temporary redirects.

Temporary redirects are HTTP status codes that indicate that a page has been temporarily moved to a new location. 

302 (See Other)

A 302 redirect indicates that a page has been temporarily moved to a new location. You should use the new address instead of the requested URL.  The parameters of the old URL are not carried over to the new one during this temporary. It is often used for an extended time and is considered a quick solution. Most SEO experts use 302 if they want an old URL to stay in the index or temporarily change the URL address.  Generally speaking, such redirects are valid for: 

  • redirecting a user to a local version of the website
  • testing different versions of web pages
  • temporary redirection, such as advertising activities, missing items, etc. 
  • any other cases of temporary redirection to another URL

302 redirect (Found) 

The 302 status code indicates that a document has been found but must be accessed using the GET method.  It is similar to a 302 status code but does not redirect links to the new URL and is not stored in the cache by search engines.  Using the GET method, you can use this code when a document needs to be accessed, but the browser or search engine should not store the new location permanently.

307 (Temporary Redirect) 

The 307 status code is similar to a 302, with the main difference being that it requires the same method (POST) to be used in subsequent requests. This ensures that the technique used in the initial request (POST) is not changed during redirection.  This code is often used in cases where the page contains forms that use the POST method or when only the POST method should be used. It is similar to 308 redirects in this aspect. 

how to stop website redirects

Other redirects.

Also, you can use many other types of redirects on your website to give the user the best experience. 

300 (Multiple Choice)

The 300 status code, indicating "Multiple Choice", is not commonly used. It is typically implemented when a browser needs to determine which URL to display to a user.  This type can be helpful when redirecting users to different versions of a page based on their browser settings.  It allows the server to present multiple options for the resource that the client may follow, such as; 

  • different languages, 
  • content encoding, 
  • resource representation.

304 (Not Modified) 

This status code shows that the requested URL is the same and that a browser can use the existing page copy. This is how a web admin can save some traffic and reduce server load. So, how it works? 

  • You can send the request to a server with the If-Modified-Since header and the date compared to the Last-Modified date (the last date when the page was modified or updated).
  • If you find out that the Last-Modified date is older than the If-Modified-Since date (i.e., if a browser stores the relevant, up-to-date web page in the cache), the browser receives the 304 status code and doesn't download the page again. 
  • If the page was modified after the Last-Modified date (i.e., if the version of the page stored in the cache is outdated), the server would send the 200 response code, and the browser will download the new version of the page. 

A 304 redirect is a powerful element that you can use for server load and crawl budget optimization. 

How to Implement Redirects?

Ways to set up Redirection:

  • Use specific plugins like Redirection for WordPress websites.
  • Some SEO plugins for WordPress automatically offer to set up redirects when deleting pages.
  • Set up redirects at the server level:
    • Edit the .htaccess file (if using Apache)
    • Edit virtual host configuration files (if using NGINX)
    • This method can lead to redirect performance faster.

What Are Redirects: Conclusion 

Redirects can be simple and easy. However, it is like many other SEO factors. Well-executed redirects will have a good impact on your website. However, we do not advise you to overuse it, and it is recommended that you choose the pages you redirect to very carefully. Using ranking monitoring tools, you should monitor your website's ranking on search engines. Using the Rank Tracker, Keyword Explorer, and seobase SERP Checker tool and Rank Tracker will make it somewhat more manageable. For more information or in case you have any questions about the redirects, you can leave your inquiries in the comments section below, and the seobase team will gladly answer you. We're looking to hearing from you!

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