URL Reroutes For SEO: A Technical Guide

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

While many people think about redirects as an internet detour sign, much more is happening, and it’s remarkably enjoyable to discover.

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

What Is A Redirect?

Site redirects inform internet browsers and online search engine info about a URL and where to discover the webpage.

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

A redirect can be set as a:

  • Momentary redirect: 302, 303, 307, 308.
  • Long-term redirect: 301.

When To Utilize Redirects

The main reasons to use redirects are:

  • An individual page or entire domain has been moved (URL altered).
  • To enable the usage of URL shorteners or ‘pretty URLs.’
  • Website migration (e.g., HTTP to HTTPS).

For SEO functions, URL redirects are very important 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 often it is better to leave a 404).

Redirects can be executed on a group or domain-wide basis however frequently require to be set on a private basis to prevent issues.

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

Kinds of Redirects

There are three main kinds of redirects:

  • Meta Refresh redirects are set at the page level however are generally not recommended for SEO purposes. There are 2 types of meta redirect: postponed which is seen as a short-term redirect, and instant, which is viewed as an irreversible redirect.
  • Javascript redirects are also set on the customer side’s page and can trigger SEO problems. Google has stated a preference for HTTP server-side redirects.
  • HTTP redirects are set server-side and the very best approach for SEO purposes– we covered extensive listed below.

What Is A HTTP Response Status Code?

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

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

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

In the circumstance where a user agent like GoogleBot requests a URL, the server offers an action.

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

So, when you think of a GoogleBot reaching a site and attempting to crawl it, what’s happening is a series of requests and actions.

HTTP Redirects

An HTTP redirect is a server reaction 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 request is being rerouted to a various URL.

The action code for an altered URL is normally in the type of a 301 or 302 response status code.

The whole 3xx series of response codes communicate much info that can optionally be acted upon by the user representative.

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 a web roadway indication that says, “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 official 3xx action status codes.

These are the various kinds of redirects available for use:

  • 300 Several Options.
  • 301 Moved Completely.
  • 302 Found.
  • 303 See Other.
  • 304 Not Customized.
  • 305 Use Proxy.
  • 306 (Unused).
  • 307 Short-lived Redirect.
  • 308 Permanent Redirect.

A few of the above status codes have not been around as long and may not be used. So, prior to using any redirect code besides 301 or 302, make sure that the desired user representative can interpret it.

Because GoogleBot uses the latest version of Chrome (called a headless web browser), it’s easy to examine if a status code works by examining if Chrome acknowledges the status code with a browser compatibility list.

For SEO, one ought to stick to utilizing the 301 and 302 action codes unless there is a particular reason to use among the other codes.

301: Moved Permanently

The 301 status code is consistently referenced as the 301 redirects. But the main name is 301 Moved Permanently.

The 301 redirect suggests to a user representative that the URL (in some cases described as a target resource or merely resource) was changed to another location which it should use the brand-new URL for future demands.

As mentioned previously, there is more info also.

The 301 status code also recommends to the user agent:

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

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

“Keep in mind: For historic factors, a user agent MAY alter the request method from POST to GET for the subsequent demand. If this habits is undesirable, the 308 (Long-term 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 new one.

Before making a modification, you should beware when using a 301 redirect. The 301 redirects need to just be utilized when the modification to a new URL is permanent.

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

Furthermore, if you change your mind later on and go back to the old URL, the old URL may not rank anymore and might take some time to restore the rankings.

So, the main thing to remember is that a 301 status code will be used when the modification is irreversible.

302: Found

The main thing to understand about the 302 status code is that it works for situations where a URL is briefly changed.

The significance of this reaction 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 likewise comes with a technical caveat related to GET and Post:

“Note: For historic factors, a user agent MAY alter the demand method from POST to GET for the subsequent request. If this behavior is undesired, the 307 (Temporary Redirect) status code can be utilized instead.”

The referral to “historical reasons” might refer to old or buggy user agents that may alter the request technique.

307: Temporary Redirect

A 307 redirect indicates the requested URL is temporarily moved, and the user representative ought to use the original URL for future demands.

The only distinction in between a 302 and a 307 status code is that a user agent should request the new URL with the exact same HTTP demand utilized to ask for the initial URL.

That means if the user agent requests the page with a GET demand, then the user agent should use a GET request for the brand-new momentary URL and can not use the POST request.

The Mozilla documentation of the 307 status code describes it more clearly than the official documents.

“The server sends this action to direct the customer to get the requested resource at another URI with same approach that was utilized in the previous request.

This has the exact same semantics as the 302 Found HTTP reaction code, with the exception that the user agent should not alter the HTTP technique used: if a POST was used in the very first request, a POST must be used in the 2nd demand.”

Besides the 307 status code needing subsequent demands to be of the very same kind (POST or GET) which the 302 can go in any case, everything else is the same in between the 302 and the 307 status codes.

302 Vs. 307

You might handle a redirect via 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 exact same syntax for composing redirect rules. They vary only with commands utilized 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/ long-term;

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. “long-term.”
  • Action command: “RedirectMatch” vs. “rewrite.”

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

On Apache, make sure that mod_rewrite and mod_alias modules (accountable for dealing with redirects) are enabled on your server.

Given that the most widely spread server type is Apache, here are examples for.htaccess apache files.

Ensure that the.htaccess file has these two lines above the redirect rules and put the guidelines below them:

Options +FollowSymlinks RewriteEngine on

Read the main documents to find out more about the RewriteEngine.

To understand the examples listed below, you may describe the table below on RegExp basics.

* no or more times
+ Several 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 Create A Redirect For A Single URL

The most common and commonly utilized type of redirect is when deleting pages or altering URLs.

For example, say you altered 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 difference in between the 2 approaches is that the first uses the Apache mod_rewrite module, and the second uses mod_alias. It can be done using both techniques.

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

We could likewise utilize (. *), i.e., ^/ old-page(. *), however the problem is, if you have another page with a similar URL like/ old-page-other/, it will also be redirected when we only want to reroute/ 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 brand-new one. If we utilize redirect in the list below type:

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

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

Even/ old-page without a trailing slash “/” would end 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 merge all subcategories into/ category/final-subcategory/. We need the “all other than” rule here.

RewriteCond % REQUEST_URI!/ category/final-subcategory/ RewriteCond % !-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 4th line. We likewise have the “!-f” guideline on the 2nd line, overlooking any file like images, CSS, or JavaScript files.

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

Directory site Change

You can utilize the rule 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 should remember everything in the URL that follows/ old-directory/ (i.e.,/ old-directory/subdirectory/) and pass it (i.e., “/ subdirectory/”) onto the destination. As a result, it will be redirected to/ new-directory/subdirectory/.

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

I could integrate them into one rule using (/? |. *)$ RegExp at the end, however it would trigger issues and add a “//” slash to the end of the URL when the asked for URL without any routing slash has a query string (i.e., “/ old-directory? utm_source=facebook” would be redirected to “/ new-directory//? utm_source=facebook”).

Eliminate A Word From URL

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

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

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

If missing, you may endanger your site with duplicate content concerns since online search engine treat URLs with “www” and “non-www” variations as different pages with the exact same material.

For that reason, you must guarantee you run the website just with one variation you select.

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

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/$1 [L, R=301] Tracking slash is likewise part of canonicalization because URLs with a slash at the end or without are likewise dealt with in a different way. RewriteCond % !-f RewriteRule ^(. * [^/]$/$1/ [L, R=301] This will ensure the/ example-page is rerouted to/ example-page/. You may pick to get rid of the slash instead of adding then you will require the other rule listed below: RewriteCond % !-d RewriteRule ^(. *)/$/$1 [L, R=301]HTTP To HTTPS Redirect

After Google’s initiative to encourage website owners to use SSL, migrating to HTTPS is one of the frequently utilized redirects that almost every site has.

The reword rule below can be used to require HTTPS on every site.

RewriteCond % HTTP_HOST ^ yourwebsite.com [NC, OR] RewriteCond % ^ 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 redirect into one HTTPS redirect rule.

Redirect From Old Domain To New

This is also one of the most pre-owned redirects when you decide 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 uses 2 cases: one with the “www” version of URLs and another “non-www” because any page for historic reasons might have inbound links to both versions.

A lot of site owners utilize WordPress and might not need a.htaccess file for redirects but use a plugin rather.

Managing redirects utilizing plugins may be somewhat various from what we discussed above. You may require to read their paperwork to deal with RegExp properly for the particular plugin.

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

Reroute Best Practices

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

This case often happens when you are too lazy to examine 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 must consider creating lovely 404 pages and engaging users to browse further or find something besides what they were looking for by displaying a search option.

It is strongly recommended by Google that rerouted page material must 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 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 should ensure to redirect users to the appropriate page of the mobile variation.

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

Also, you have to guarantee 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 variation and keep them on the desktop page.

3. How To Utilize Meta Refresh

It is possible to do a redirect using a meta revitalize tag like the example listed below:

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

Google does not forbid this redirect, however it does not advise utilizing it.

According to John Mueller, online search engine might not have the ability to recognize that kind of redirect correctly. The exact same is likewise true about JavaScript reroutes.

4. Avoid Redirect Chains

This message shows when you have a wrong regular expression setup and ends up in a limitless loop.

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

page 1 is rerouted and decided to reroute page 2 to page 1 again. As an outcome, you will end up with a rule like this: RewriteRule ^ page1/ page2 [R

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

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

enhancing

webpages effectively. It’s a core part of comprehending SEO. Numerous situations need exact understanding of redirects, such as moving a website to a new domain or creating a short-lived holding page URL for a website that will return under its typical URL. While so much is possible with a plugin, plugins can be misused without appropriately comprehending when and why to utilize a specific

sort of redirect. More Resources: Included Image: