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What is a Redirect and Why are they Important?
Let’s say you have a page on your website that uses the URL exmaplerestaurant.com/menu/ but you find out through keyword research that making the URL examplerestaurant.com/italian-food/ will improve your site’s SEO. Once you have updated your URL two things will happen.
One is that Google will not know that you have changed your URL so anyone clicking on the Google listing for your menu will now be sent to a 404 error page on your website. Two, people who have visited your site in the past may have bookmarked or memorized your menu URL, now when they go to return to the menu page they will find a 404 error page. This means changing a URL for an existing page can hurt your sites SEO and its user experience.
Google will often penalize sites that have search engine listings that point to a dead page or a 404 page, and users will often leave a site if they are brought to a page that doesn’t work when they first land on the site.
So how do we change the URLs on a website without being penalized by Google and confusing our users? The answer is redirects! Redirects will automatically redirect users from the old URL to the new URL when they try to access the old URL. This means regardless of whether it is a Google search result, link click or someone enters the old URL in the address bar they will still be taken to the new URL the website page was moved to.
Implementing a redirect whenever you move a page on your website from one URL to another is incredibly important. Not implementing proper redirects can have a huge negative impact on your site’s SEO and where you rank on Google.
If Google had previously indexed your website page and its URL and all of a sudden that page isn’t located at the URL it has indexed it will remove that page from its rankings. Meaning if your page once ranked number one on Google for certain keywords and you moved it without providing a redirect it won’t be ranking on Google at all anymore. So whether you are moving one page or updating your whole sites URL structure implementing redirects should be priority number one.
How to Implement Redirects
Implementing redirects on your website can be done in several different ways depending on your website. If your website uses the WordPress platform then there are a number of free plugins that make it easy to create redirects for your website. Using plugins such as Redirection or Quick Redirects allows you to create redirects with just a few simple clicks of the mouse. If you aren’t using WordPress or like to do things the old fashion way then you can also implement redirects through your sites .htaccess file. Add the line:
Redirect 301 /old-url/ /new-url/
And replace old-url with the URL your page used to exist on and replace new-url with the URL your page now lives. You can add as many redirects as you would like to your .htaccess file. Once you’ve added your redirects just save your .htaccess file and they will be implemented.
There are several different kinds of redirects but only 2 that really matter:
- 301 Redirects – These are permanent redirects and the most commonly used, so if you are permanently moving a page from one URL to another use these
- 302/307 Redirects – These are temporary redirects, if you are creating a new design or layout for a page on its existing URL but still want users to see the old page in the meantime a temporary redirect should be used. As long as the content that lived at this URL is coming back a temporary redirect can be used
Essentially 301 redirects are the only type of redirects ever used except for very special circumstances.
Still Not Sure?
Still not confident in adding redirects to your website or updating your site URLs? Well let the SEO experts at Konstruct Digital take care of it for you. We have years of experience implementing redirect strategies and new URL structures for all kinds of websites. If you need our help please give us a call.