February 5, 2023


Technology Room

URL Redirects For search engine optimisation: A Technical Information

15 min read

Redirects for search engine optimisation must be used appropriately as a result of they influence how web sites are crawled and listed by Google.

Whereas most individuals consider redirects as an web detour signal, rather more is occurring, and it’s surprisingly fulfilling to find.

Maintain studying for a complete overview of redirects and the correct software for technical search engine optimisation.

What Is A Redirect?

Web site redirects inform browsers and search engines like google and yahoo details about a URL and the place to search out the webpage.

A URL redirect entails code applied to a selected URL, or a bunch of URLs in order that the person (or search engine) is distributed to a unique web page to the precise URL that was enter or clicked.

A redirect may be set as a:

  • Momentary redirect: 302, 303, 307, 308.
  • Everlasting redirect: 301.

When To Use Redirects

The primary causes to make use of redirects are:

  • A person web page or whole area has been moved (URL modified).
  • To permit using URL shorteners or ‘fairly URLs.’
  • Website migration (e.g., HTTP to HTTPS).

For search engine optimisation functions, URL redirects are necessary as a result of they:

  • Ahead authority of any hyperlinks pointing to a web page that has moved or been deleted.
  • Keep away from 404 web page not discovered errors (though typically it’s higher to depart a 404).

Redirects may be applied on a bunch or domain-wide foundation however usually should be set on a person foundation to keep away from points.

When utilizing RegEX for group redirects, it might probably have sudden outcomes in case your logic isn’t flawless!

Varieties Of Redirects

There are three essential sorts of redirects:

  • Meta Refresh redirects are set on the web page degree however are usually not advisable for search engine optimisation functions. There are two sorts of meta redirect: delayed which is seen as a short lived redirect, and on the spot, which is seen as a everlasting redirect.
  • Javascript redirects are additionally set on the consumer facet’s web page and might trigger search engine optimisation points. Google has said a choice for HTTP server-side redirects.
  • HTTP redirects are set server-side and the perfect strategy for search engine optimisation functions – we coated in-depth under.

What Is A HTTP Response Standing Code?

Browsers and search engine crawlers like GoogleBot are known as person brokers.

When a person agent tries to entry a webpage, what occurs is that the person agent makes a request, and the web site server points a response.

The response is named an HTTP response standing code. It offers a standing for the request for a URL.

Within the scenario the place a person agent like GoogleBot requests a URL, the server provides a response.

For instance, if the request for a URL is profitable, the server will present a response code of 200, which implies the request for a URL was profitable.

So, while you consider a GoogleBot reaching a web site and making an attempt to crawl it, what’s taking place is a collection of requests and responses.

HTTP Redirects

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

If the URL exists at a unique URL (as a result of it was moved), the server tells the person agent that the URL request is being redirected to a unique URL.

The response code for a modified URL is normally within the type of a 301 or 302 response standing code.

The complete 3xx collection of response codes talk a lot info that may optionally be acted upon by the person agent.

An instance of an motion that the person agent can take is to save lots of a cache of the brand new URL in order that the subsequent time the previous URL is requested, it’s going to ask for the brand new URL as an alternative.

So, a 301 and a 302 redirect is greater than an web street signal that claims, “Go right here, not there.”

3XX Sequence Of Standing Codes

Redirects are extra than simply the 2 standing codes everyone seems to be acquainted with, the 301 and 302 response codes.

There are a complete of seven official 3xx response standing codes.

These are the completely different sorts of redirects accessible to be used:

  • 300 A number of Selections.
  • 301 Moved Completely.
  • 302 Discovered.
  • 303 See Different.
  • 304 Not Modified.
  • 305 Use Proxy.
  • 306 (Unused).
  • 307 Momentary Redirect.
  • 308 Everlasting Redirect.

Among the above standing codes haven’t been round as lengthy and may not be used. So, earlier than utilizing any redirect code aside from 301 or 302, make sure that the supposed person agent can interpret it.

As a result of GoogleBot makes use of the most recent model of Chrome (known as a headless browser), it’s simple to test if a standing code is appropriate by checking if Chrome acknowledges the standing code with a browser compatibility list.

For search engine optimisation, one ought to persist with utilizing the 301 and 302 response codes until there’s a particular cause to make use of one of many different codes.

301: Moved Completely

The 301 standing code is routinely referenced because the 301 redirects. However the official title is 301 Moved Completely.

The 301 redirect signifies to a person agent that the URL (typically known as a goal useful resource or just useful resource) was modified to a different location and that it ought to use the brand new URL for future requests.

As talked about earlier, there may be extra info as effectively.

The 301 standing code additionally suggests to the person agent:

  • Future requests for the URL must be made with the brand new URL.
  • Whoever is making the request ought to replace their hyperlinks to the brand new URL.
  • Subsequent requests may be modified from GET to POST.

That final level is a technical concern. In line with the official standards for the 301 status code:

“Be aware: For historic causes, a person agent MAY change the request methodology from POST to GET for the next request. If this conduct is undesired, the 308 (Everlasting Redirect) standing code can be utilized as an alternative.”

For search engine optimisation, when search engines like google and yahoo see a 301 redirect, they move the previous web page’s rating to the brand new one.

Earlier than making a change, you have to be cautious when utilizing a 301 redirect. The 301 redirects should solely be used when the change to a brand new URL is everlasting.

The 301 standing code should not be used when the change is short-term.

Moreover, in case you change your thoughts later and return to the previous URL, the previous URL might not rank anymore and will take time to regain the rankings.

So, the primary factor to recollect is {that a} 301 standing code can be used when the change is everlasting.

302: Discovered

The primary factor to grasp in regards to the 302 standing code is that it’s helpful for conditions the place a URL is briefly modified.

The that means of this response code is that the URL is briefly at a unique URL, and it’s steered to make use of the previous URL for future requests.

The 302 redirect standing code additionally comes with a technical caveat associated to GET and Submit:

“Be aware: For historic causes, a person agent MAY change the request methodology from POST to GET for the next request. If this conduct is undesired, the 307 (Momentary Redirect) standing code can be utilized as an alternative.”

The reference to “historic causes” might seek advice from previous or buggy person brokers that will change the request methodology.

307: Momentary Redirect

A 307 redirect means the requested URL is briefly moved, and the person agent ought to use the unique URL for future requests.

The one distinction between a 302 and a 307 standing code is {that a} person agent should request the brand new URL with the identical HTTP request used to request the unique URL.

Which means if the person agent requests the web page with a GET request, then the person agent should use a GET request for the brand new short-term URL and can’t use the POST request.

The Mozilla documentation of the 307 status code explains it extra clearly than the official documentation.

“The server sends this response to direct the consumer to get the requested useful resource at one other URI with similar methodology that was used within the prior request.

This has the identical semantics because the 302 Discovered HTTP response code, with the exception that the person agent should not change the HTTP methodology used: if a POST was used within the first request, a POST have to be used within the second request.”

Aside from the 307 standing code requiring subsequent requests to be of the identical sort (POST or GET) and that the 302 can go both manner, every thing else is similar between the 302 and the 307 standing codes.

302 Vs. 307

You could deal with a redirect by way of server config recordsdata .htaccess on Apache, instance.conf file on Nginx or by way of plugins if you’re utilizing WordPress.

In all cases, they’ve the identical syntax for writing redirect guidelines. They differ solely with instructions utilized in configuration recordsdata. For instance, a redirect on Apache will seem like this:

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

(You may examine symlinks here.)

On Nginx servers, it’s going to seem like this:

rewrite ^/oldfolder/ /newfolder/ everlasting;

The instructions used to inform the server’s standing code of redirect and the motion command differ.

For example:

  • Servers standing code of redirect: “301″ vs. “everlasting.”
  • Motion command: “RedirectMatch” vs. “rewrite.”

However the redirect syntax ( ^/oldfolder/ /newfolder/ ) is similar for each.

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

For the reason that most generally unfold server kind is Apache, listed below are examples for .htaccess apache recordsdata.

Guarantee that the .htaccess file has these two strains above the redirect guidelines and put the principles under them:

Choices +FollowSymlinks
RewriteEngine on

Learn the official documentation to learn more about the RewriteEngine.

To know the examples under, chances are you’ll seek advice from the desk under on RegExp fundamentals.

* zero or extra instances
+ A number of instances
. any single character
? Zero or one time
^ Begin of the string
$ Finish of the string
a|b OR operadn “|” a or b
(z) remembers the match for use when calling $1

How To Create Redirects

How To Create A Redirect For A Single URL

The most typical and extensively used kind of redirect is when deleting pages or altering URLs.

For example, say you modified the URL from /old-page/ to /new-page/. The redirect rule could be:

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


RedirectMatch 301 ^/old-page(/?|/.*)$ /new-page/

The one distinction between the 2 strategies is that the primary makes use of the Apache mod_rewrite module, and the second makes use of mod_alias. It may be carried out utilizing each strategies.

The common expression “^” means the URL should begin with “/old-page” whereas (/?|/.*)$ signifies that something that follows “/old-page/” with a slash “/” or with out an actual match have to be redirected to /new-page/.

We may additionally use (.*), i.e., ^/old-page(.*), however the issue is, in case you have one other web page with an analogous URL like /old-page-other/, it’s going to even be redirected once we solely need to redirect /old-page/.

The next URLs will match and be directed to a brand new web page:

/old-page/ /new-page/
/old-page /new-page/
/old-page/?utm_source=fb.com /new-page/?utm_source=fb.com
/old-page/child-page/ /new-page/

It’ll redirect any variation of the web page URL to a brand new one. If we use redirect within the following type:

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

With out common expressions, all URLs with UTM question string, e.g., /old-page?utm_source=fb.com (which is widespread since URLs are was once shared over a social community), would find yourself as 404s.

Even /old-page and not using a trailing slash “/” would find yourself as a 404.

Redirect All Besides

Let’s say we’ve a bunch of URLs like /class/old-subcategory-1/, /class/old-subcategory-2/, /class/final-subcategory/ and need to merge all subcategories into /class/final-subcategory/. We’d like the “all besides” rule right here.

RewriteCond {101417768b20d6f92316fd7d46662a6fe9bfb6b86ff5a782d317a3e9c879583b}REQUEST_URI !/class/final-subcategory/
RewriteCond {101417768b20d6f92316fd7d46662a6fe9bfb6b86ff5a782d317a3e9c879583b}REQUEST_FILENAME !-f
RewriteRule ^(class/). /class/final-subcategory/ [R=301,L]

Right here, we need to redirect all beneath /class/ on the third line besides whether it is /class/final-subcategory/ on the fourth line. We even have the “!-f” rule on the second line, ignoring any file like photos, CSS, or JavaScript recordsdata.

In any other case, if we’ve some belongings like “/class/picture.jpg,” it’s going to even be redirected to “/final-subcategory/” and trigger a picture break.

Listing Change

You need to use the rule under in case you did a class restructuring and need to transfer every thing from the previous listing to the brand new one.

RewriteRule ^old-directory$ /new-directory/ [R=301,NC,L]
RewriteRule ^old-directory/(.*)$ /new-directory/$1 [R=301,NC,L]

I used $1 within the goal to inform the server that it ought to bear in mind every thing within the URL that follows /old-directory/ (i.e., /old-directory/subdirectory/) and move it (i.e., “/subdirectory/”) onto the vacation spot. In consequence, it is going to be redirected to /new-directory/subdirectory/.

I used two guidelines: one case with no trailing slash on the finish and the opposite one with a trailing slash.

I may mix them into one rule utilizing (/?|.*)$ RegExp on the finish, however it might trigger issues and add a “//” slash to the tip of the URL when the requested URL with no trailing slash has a question string (i.e., “/old-directory?utm_source=fb” could be redirected to “/new-directory//?utm_source=fb”).

Take away A Phrase From URL

Let’s say you might have 100 URLs in your web site with town title “Chicago” and need to take away them.

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

RewriteRule ^(.*)-chicago-(.*) http://{101417768b20d6f92316fd7d46662a6fe9bfb6b86ff5a782d317a3e9c879583b}SERVER_NAME/$1-$2 [NC,R=301,L]

If the instance URL is within the type http://yourwebiste.com/instance/chicago/occasion/, then the redirect could be:

RewriteRule ^(.*)/chicago/(.*) http://{101417768b20d6f92316fd7d46662a6fe9bfb6b86ff5a782d317a3e9c879583b}SERVER_NAME/$1/$2 [NC,R=301,L]

Set A Canonical URL

Having canonical URLs is an important a part of search engine optimisation.

If lacking, you may endanger your web site with duplicate content material points as a result of search engines like google and yahoo deal with URLs with “www” and “non-www” variations as completely different pages with the identical content material.

Subsequently, you should make sure you run the web site solely with one model you select.

If you wish to run your web site with the “www” model, use this rule:

RewriteCond {101417768b20d6f92316fd7d46662a6fe9bfb6b86ff5a782d317a3e9c879583b}HTTP_HOST ^yourwebsite.com [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.yourwebsite.com/$1 [L,R=301]

For a “non-www” model:

RewriteCond {101417768b20d6f92316fd7d46662a6fe9bfb6b86ff5a782d317a3e9c879583b}HTTP_HOST ^www.yourwebsite.com [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://yourwebsite.com/$1 [L,R=301]

Trailing slash can be a part of canonicalization since URLs with a slash on the finish or with out are additionally handled otherwise.

RewriteCond {101417768b20d6f92316fd7d46662a6fe9bfb6b86ff5a782d317a3e9c879583b}REQUEST_FILENAME !-f
RewriteRule ^(.*[^/])$ /$1/ [L,R=301]

It will make sure that the /example-page is redirected to /example-page/. You could select to take away the slash as an alternative of including then you will have the opposite rule under:

RewriteCond {101417768b20d6f92316fd7d46662a6fe9bfb6b86ff5a782d317a3e9c879583b}REQUEST_FILENAME !-d
RewriteRule ^(.*)/$ /$1 [L,R=301]

HTTP To HTTPS Redirect

After Google’s initiative to encourage web site homeowners to make use of SSL, migrating to HTTPS is likely one of the generally used redirects that just about each web site has.

The rewrite rule under can be utilized to drive HTTPS on each web site.

RewriteCond {101417768b20d6f92316fd7d46662a6fe9bfb6b86ff5a782d317a3e9c879583b}HTTP_HOST ^yourwebsite.com [NC,OR]
RewriteCond {101417768b20d6f92316fd7d46662a6fe9bfb6b86ff5a782d317a3e9c879583b}HTTP_HOST ^www.yourwebsite.com [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://www.yourwebsite.com/$1 [L,R=301,NC]

Utilizing this, you possibly can mix a www or non-www model redirect into one HTTPS redirect rule.

Redirect From Outdated Area To New

That is additionally one of the crucial used redirects while you resolve to rebrand and want to vary your area. The rule under redirects old-domain.com to new-domain.com.

RewriteCond {101417768b20d6f92316fd7d46662a6fe9bfb6b86ff5a782d317a3e9c879583b}HTTP_HOST ^old-domain.com$ [OR]
RewriteCond {101417768b20d6f92316fd7d46662a6fe9bfb6b86ff5a782d317a3e9c879583b}HTTP_HOST ^www.old-domain.com$
RewriteRule (.*)$ http://www.new-domain.com/$1 [R=301,L]

It makes use of two instances: one with the “www” model of URLs and one other “non-www” as a result of any web page for historic causes might have incoming hyperlinks to each variations.

Most web site homeowners use WordPress and will not want a .htaccess file for redirects however use a plugin as an alternative.

Dealing with redirects utilizing plugins could also be barely completely different from what we mentioned above. You could must learn their documentation to deal with RegExp appropriately for the precise plugin.

From the prevailing ones, I might advocate a free plugin known as Redirection, which has many parameters to regulate redirect guidelines and lots of useful docs.

Redirect Finest Practices

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

This case usually occurs if you find yourself too lazy to analyze your 404 URLs and map them to the suitable touchdown web page.

In line with Google, they’re nonetheless all handled as 404s.

When you have too many pages like this, it’s best to take into account creating lovely 404 pages and interesting customers to browse additional or discover one thing aside from what they had been searching for by displaying a search possibility.

It’s strongly advisable by Google that redirected web page content material must be equal to the previous web page. In any other case, such a redirect could also be thought-about a tender 404, and you’ll lose the rank of that web page.

2. Get Cellular Web page-Particular Redirects Proper

When you have completely different URLs for desktop and cellular web sites (i.e., “instance.com” for desktop and “m.instance.com” for cellular), it’s best to make sure that to redirect customers to the suitable web page of the cellular model.

Appropriate: “instance.com/sport/” to “m.instance.com/sport/”
Incorrect: “instance.com/sport/” to “m.instance.com”

Additionally, it’s important to make sure that if one web page is 404 on the desktop, it must also be 404 on cellular.

When you have no cellular model for a web page, you possibly can keep away from redirecting to the cellular model and maintain them on the desktop web page.

3. How To Use Meta Refresh

It’s potential to do a redirect utilizing a meta refresh tag like the instance under:

<meta http-equiv=”refresh” content material=”0;url=http://instance.com/new-page/” />

When you insert this tag in /old-page/, it’s going to redirect the person instantly to /new-page/.

Google doesn’t prohibit this redirect, nevertheless it doesn’t advocate utilizing it.

In line with John Mueller, search engines like google and yahoo might not be capable of acknowledge that kind of redirect correctly. The identical can be true about JavaScript redirects.

4. Keep away from Redirect Chains

This message shows when you might have a flawed common expression setup and results in an infinite loop.

This page isn't workingScreenshot by creator, December 2022

Often, this occurs when you might have a redirect chain.

Let’s say you redirected web page 1 to web page 2 a very long time in the past. You might need forgotten that web page 1 is redirected and determined to redirect web page 2 to web page 1 once more.

In consequence, you’ll find yourself with a rule like this:

RewriteRule ^page1 /page2 [R=301,NC,L]
RewriteRule ^page2 /page1 [R=301,NC,L]

It will create an infinite loop and produce the error proven above.


Figuring out what redirects are and which scenario requires a selected standing code is prime to optimizing webpages correctly. It’s a core a part of understanding search engine optimisation.

Many conditions require exact information of redirects, reminiscent of migrating a web site to a brand new area or creating a short lived holding web page URL for a webpage that can return beneath its regular URL.

Whereas a lot is feasible with a plugin, plugins may be misused with out correctly understanding when and why to make use of a selected type of redirect.

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