When and Why to Use Website Redirects

Nikki Thomas / July 10, 2019

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Have you recently moved your content from one URL to another? If so, then one of the most important things you need to be using is website redirects. Here’s an introduction to what redirects are, why you need them, and the different types you’ll come across.

What are website redirects, and why do you need them?

Websites and URLs evolve over time for several reasons. This happens when you reorganize and update a site and when you change domains. If someone visits one of your old pages that have either been removed or brought over to a different location, then a website redirect keeps that visitor from getting lost by taking them to the new location of that page. In addition to getting your visitors to the correct page, according to SE Ranking website redirects also help you maintain your current search engine ranking even after you’ve made a change to your website.

If potential visitors search for your web page and come across old URLs that have been replaced, those visitors will receive a 404 error page and be told that the page no longer exists. Receiving a 404 error page isn’t a great user experience, and it’s likely that these visitors may not return to your website. This can also happen if any of your old URLs are referenced on other websites and printed materials and are bookmarked by users.

Types of website redirects

There are several types of redirects and each one has its own purpose. They generally fall under two main categories: temporary and permanent.

Temporary redirects

The various types of temporary website redirects include 302, 303, and 307. Anytime you want to move a website or URL for a short amount of time, then you should set up a temporary redirect. Temporary redirects are also used to let visitors know that the page they’re searching for was found but is currently not here. Temporary redirects can also be used to house sensitive information for a very short period of time, like any page that takes payment information. These types of redirects are typically created by web developers, computer programmers, and search engine optimization professionals.

Permanent redirects

Website redirects 301 and 308 are permanent and act the same way the postal service treats your mail when you move to a new home. These redirects tell search engines that the domain and URL have changed and to take all of the current page ranks and links from the old website to the new website. This ensures that you still receive all of the traffic you would’ve received before the domain and URL change. Typically, 308 redirects are only created by web developers, while the 301 redirect is the most popular one used by day-to-day website owners.

So, whether you’ve started with one domain name and decided you don’t like it anymore or you want to upgrade from an older site to a WordPress.com website, it’s critical to have proper redirects in place anytime you’re making a change that involves moving one URL to a different one. Having these in place ensures that you don’t lose any of the page rank you’ve worked hard for, that visitors who come across an old URL get to the right place, and that the content you’ve created is read — even after it’s been moved.

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