Who hasn't experienced it? You click on a link from a social network or on a Google search results page and it happens. 404 Page not found - I'm sure all of us have read this message at least once. It's annoying, especially if it's about your website and a visitor who might be willing to buy, or if you only find a presumably good link for the desired information and then it doesn't work.
If you run a website or a shop, you should always make sure that users are directed to the right pages. This is not easy and especially if the offer of your website grows or pages and products disappear and are no longer available, you need another solution to prevent valuable traffic from going nowhere. The use of so-called redirects to redirect traffic from one URL to another is a possible technical solution.
In this technical paper, we will take an in-depth look at redirects and how they can benefit your SEO, including the different types of redirects and how to use them, best practices for implementing redirects on your website, tools and methods for monitoring and managing redirects, and the impact of bad redirects on user experience.
What are redirects and why are they important for your website?
Redirects are a way to redirect visitors to your website from one URL to another. They are used in a variety of situations, such as when you rename a page, change the URL structure or delete a page. They are important to ensure that visitors and search engines are redirected to the correct page and that no 404 error occurs, unless you want to trigger a 404 error, by the way, such redirects also exist.
Visitors and search engines that encounter a 404 error often leave the visited website again directly, a bounce that should be avoided at all costs. In addition, it is worth mentioning that cleverly set redirects can also help consolidate link juice on your website.
The different types of redirects and their uses
There are different types of redirecting, including 301, 302, 303, 307 and meta-refresh. The most common type of redirect is the 301 redirect, which is used when one page needs to be permanently redirected to another. The 302 redirect, on the other hand, is used when a page is only temporarily, i.e. temporarily redirected to another and will later be pointed elsewhere again or should itself become valid again. A 303 redirect is normally used in conjunction with forms to indicate confirmation of submission. The 307 redirect is used similarly to the 302 redirect, but with the intention of prompting the user agent to resubmit the request. The meta-refresh redirect type is used less often because it is not a true HTTP redirect, but a client-side redirect (redirection in the visitor's browser).
How redirects affect your SEO and what factors play a role in this
Redirects can have a noticeable impact on your SEO, especially if they are not implemented properly. Factors to consider include the number of redirects on your page, the speed at which your page redirects, and the number of internal and external links pointing to the redirected page.
The use of redirects can also influence the PageRank and relevance of your page. The influences of redirects can be both positive and negative, too many redirects can be harmful, no redirects and just a 404 page as well. A logical structure is the key here.
Best practices for implementing redirects on your website
There are some best practices to consider when implementing redirects on your website. First, make sure the redirected page is relevant to the visitor and has similar relevance to the original page you are redirecting from. Use the correct redirect code to ensure that search engines can index the new page correctly, 301 for permanent, 302 for temporary.
Make sure the redirected page is in the same context as the original page to ensure a high user experience. It's best to ask yourself if you would be happy with the information on the destination page instead of the original page, and only set the redirect if you can answer yes.
How to avoid redirect loops and other errors when using redirects
Redirect loops can occur when two pages redirect to each other. This causes the page to become unavailable, neither page can be loaded in the browser, and after a short time an error message is shown in the browser. To avoid redirect loops, you should ensure that each page is redirected to only one other page and always test your redirects after they have been set. You should also ensure that your redirects do not contain errors and that they correctly point to the new page.
Tools and methods for monitoring and managing redirects
There are several tools and methods for monitoring and managing redirects, including Google Search Console, Screaming Frog and Redirect Path. These tools allow you to identify and fix faulty redirects to ensure your website is running smoothly. For OXID eShop, for example, we offer a module, the Redirect Manager, which allows you to easily create redirects in the OXID eShop administration. For other software frameworks, there are comparable tools that make it easier for you to create and manage redirects.
The effects of faulty redirects on the user experience and how to fix them
Faulty redirects can lead to a poor user experience and affect your website. The effects include a high bounce rate, poor performance and poorer SEO ranking. To fix bad redirects, make sure that each page only redirects to another page, that the redirected link is correct, and that the new page is relevant and useful to the user. Also, always make sure to redirect to the correct protocol such as HTTPS, as redirecting from HTTP to HTTPS afterwards will then become unnecessary and save the user time.
Redirects are an important aspect of website optimisation. They help to redirect traffic from an old URL to a new one and are a useful tool that can direct users and search engines to the correct pages. Understanding the different types of redirects and how they are used is essential to ensure that redirects are done properly. Use tools and methods for monitoring and managing redirects in your software framework to make it easier for you to set up and test them, and to ensure that your site runs smoothly and that faulty redirects are fixed.