What are URL Redirects

What happens if you’ve undergone a website change, and you now do business at a new URL? Or, maybe a few of your links have changed and you want to make sure your users get sent to the right destination?

URL redirects can be used for a variety of purposes. Below we outline what URL redirects actually are, the different uses, and common situations where they can be utilized to support your business.

What is a URL Redirect?

A URL redirect essentially takes your URL and points it to another. For example, let’s say you had the URL “myoldsite.com” and you wanted visitors to instead be directed to “mynewsite.com”. You would use a redirect to easily make this happen. Then whoever typed in your old URL would immediately be redirected to your new one.

As you’ll see below there are a few different types of redirects, which you can use to satisfy your website goals. 

1. 301 Redirect

301 redirects are permanent redirects. This is one of the most common methods for implementing redirects across your website. This style of redirect is also beneficial for SEO purposes, as it passes over 90% of the link juice.

2. 302 Redirect

302 redirects are more temporary and aren’t used very often. These are used when you’re temporarily moving a page, but have the intention to move it back to the old URL, like when you’re doing website maintenance.

Still, you may find use for them when redesigning, or migrating your website, so they’re worth mentioning here.

3. Meta Refresh

A meta refresh is typically used on page loading screens. This style of redirect is done on a page level, not on the server level, like the previous two examples. This redirect is usually slower and has a countdown timer, so you don’t lose the user’s interest.

The meta refresh does pass some link juice, if you’re concerned about your SEO, but it’s not as effective as the 301 redirect.

When Should I Use a Redirect?

Redirects are most commonly used when you’re making changes across your website and don’t want users to be hit with a 404 page, or you don’t want to lose any important sitewide links. Below we highlight three reasons redirects are commonly used:

1. You Have Duplicate Content

Duplicate content is content that appears more than once. When there are multiple versions of the same content floating around it’s difficult for Google to determine which page is the correct one.

You can get around this by using a 301 redirect on the duplicate piece of content to direct to the original page. This will help to improve your search engine rankings and create a better experience for your users. 

2. You’ve Changed Your Domain

If you’re positive you want to change your domain name, then you probably don’t want to lose any of the hard earned links you’ve built. If you want to keep all of the search engine juice flowing to your new site, then you’ll want to setup a permanent redirect from your old domain to your new one.

3. You Have Multiple Domains

Some people even purchase multiple domain names in order to protect their online brand. Then, you’ll simply redirect any of your other domains to your new domain. A lot of companies do this, so they can obtain additional traffic from common misspellings and to prevent competitors from buying a similar domain they can then redirect to their own site.

Even large sites like Amazon use the power of redirects. Go ahead and type in relentless.com and see where it leads you!

Redirects are a valuable tool in any website owners toolbox. By effectively using redirects you’ll be able to maintain a solid SEO strategy, create a proper user experience, and maintain your brand’s authority.

Any creative uses of redirects we failed to mention? Please share in the comments below.

Kevin Wood writes about technology and human potential. You can find him at his virtual homes Wooden Writing and Counter Culturist.

One thought on “What are URL Redirects, and Do You Need Any?

  1. Another reason for using a 301 redirect is where you have your own name as a website “www.yourname.com.” Instead of putting up a completely new website you can redirect to your linkedin profile which you can setup to include all the information you would have put on the site anyway. This is a great time saver.

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