The Basics Of Domain Redirects
Domain redirects have a variety of purposes. If you’ve moved your website to a new domain, or have changed the URL structure of some of your pages, then it’s time to utilize a domain redirect.
Knowing how to redirect a domain to another can be a very valuable skill in your webmaster toolbox.
Below you’ll learn what a domain redirect actually is, the types of redirects you have available, why you’d want to use one, and finally how to implement a domain redirect.
What Is a Domain Redirect?
When a domain redirect is in place the web browser will direct one domain name to another. For example, if you type in the domain name relentless.com in your browser you’ll be redirected to Amazon.com.
Domain redirects can be implemented for a wide variety of reasons. Perhaps you changed your brand name and you’re redirecting an entire domain name to a new site, or, you’ve updated your link structure and want to redirect any existing traffic to the updated URL.
Let’s look at the example of HostGator.com. We have the main domain name, but you could also pick up domains that are common misspellings or variations, like HstGator.com, or Hostgator.net (Try typing either of these in. You’ll note they both redirect to HostGator). Then, your new domain redirects to the main domain name.
Or, you could even purchase an domain name that’s related to your niche to be redirected to your site, like what Neil Patel has recently done with Kissmetrics.
Redirects are used to inform the servers that the content has moved from one URL to another one. If you want to send traffic from an existing domain name, or pass on the existing domain authority, then you’re going to need to setup a domain redirect.
Redirects can also be put into place if you have any existing 404 pages, or older pieces of content that are no longer relevant. Instead of visitors landing on a non-existent page you can redirect that traffic to a related page on your site.
For example, eCommerce stores can use redirects to direct users to similar products, once they no longer carry a certain product. Instead of the user landing on a 404 page, they’ll be sent to a page that has products similar to the one they were looking for.
Types of Domain Redirects
There are a few different types of domain redirections you’ll want to be aware of. The 301 redirect is the kind you’ll probably be using most often, but there are a few others you might use sparingly.
1. 301 Redirect
A 301 redirect is the most common type of redirect. This type of redirect will pass almost all of the existing link equity of the domain, so it’s commonly used for SEO purposes.
This is the type of redirect you should be using, both on a page, and domain basis. In most cases it’s the best redirect fit for the job.
2. 302 Redirect
Why use a 302 redirect when a 301 will do? 302 redirects are very rarely used and don’t serve much of a purpose. There are instances where a 302 redirect will be treated in the same light as a 301 redirect, but it’s almost always recommended to use a 301 redirect.
A 302 redirect will let the search engines and browsers know that the page has moved temporarily. This could have use if you’re planning on changing the page back to the original URL, but most often, this style of redirect is rare.
3. Meta Refresh
A meta refresh is a redirect that’s executed on a page level, instead of the traditional server level. These redirects are slower and not used very often, as they won’t pass on any existing page authority.
You’ve probably seen these used before when you land on a page and you see a message that says, “This page has moved, if you’re not redirected in 5 seconds, please click here.”
This type of redirect isn’t used very often as it doesn’t pass much link equity, and it creates a poor user experience. Chances are your visitors don’t want to wait five seconds for you to redirect them to the proper page.
What Kind of Domain Redirect Should I Use?
The most common reason domain redirects are used is to preserve the SEO value of an existing site and pass it onto a new site or domain. Let’s look at the following scenario:
You need to redirect a URL to a new domain permanently. That way whenever a user types in ilovedogs.com they’ll be taken to ilovecats.com.
You’ll have a few different types of redirects you can use, but the type of redirect you’ll be using most often is the 301 redirect. This type of redirect will let both the web browser and the servers know that the site has been permanently moved.
This lets the search engines know that the pages on that domain have not only changed location, but the original content (that picked up the rankings and links) is now over at the new URL.
That way any link juice and authority that domain had previously picked up will be passed onto the new site.
If you’re doing this for purely SEO purposes, keep in mind that this process can take some time. The indexing and replacement of the new page will depend on how often the search engine bots visit the page.
Overall, using a url redirection on a page basis will take less time than redirecting an entire domain. Spammers have abused the process of 301 redirects in the past, so the search engine bots will take longer to verify that an entire domain has indeed moved.
You do have other options of redirecting a domain, including 302 redirects and meta refreshes, however, these aren’t recommended. Especially, if your goal is to pass on the existing value of the site on to a new domain.
How to Implement a Domain Redirect
Setting up a redirect is probably something you’ll have to do as your site grows. Luckily, with the help of the bundled tools within cPanel setting up a redirect isn’t too technical of a process.
Below you’ll learn how to setup a 301 redirect from within the HostGator cPanel:
First you’ll need to login to your cPanel.
Once inside, find the link called Redirects.
On the next screen you’ll choose the type of redirect and what link or domain you want to redirect.
Once you’re done click ‘Add’ and your new redirect is now in place.
Hopefully, you have a better understanding of what a domain redirect is, when you’ll want to use one, and how to setup your first redirect.