Redirect

David Kusserow

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A redirect automatically redirects the visitor of a website to another URL. For example, dead links and thus 404 errors can be avoided. For example, when a page is moved, the user experience is maintained.

Definition

A redirect is the function of a server or client to automatically redirect a website visitor from one URL to another URL.

Redirect

Such a redirect serves different purposes, such as moving a page to a new domain or to avoid duplicate content. A redirect is usually not noticed by the user and is therefore perfect for redirecting URLs without reducing the user-friendliness of a page.

301 redirects

To redirect a page permanently, a 301 redirect is a good idea. This command in the server’s source code not only preserves all the link juice of the old link, but also clearly indicates to search engine crawlers that this page is permanently located at a different URL. Therefore, this technique is especially useful if you are setting up your site permanently on a new domain or relaunching an old site.

On Apache servers, you can set up this redirection with a few lines of source code by modifying the htaccess file. Alternatively, you can also set up the redirection via PHP. It’s even easier to set up redirects using Google Search Console.

302 redirect

This method of redirection was important in http version 1.0 to forward pages temporarily. Although it has long been claimed that such redirection does not receive Link Juice, Google has denied such statements and clarified that this technique also receives Link Juice. Since http version 1.1, this status code only means found – that is, that the requested page exists on the server.

307-Redirect

This technique is particularly suitable for a short-term diversion. For example, if a server is being maintained, but you still want the page to be accessible, you can write an appropriate PHP file. In this file you put an appropriate message to the visitors and save the file in the root directory of your server. With a htaccess file named htaccess.307, your server can redirect visitors. If you delete the temporary file, the user will be returned to the usual page.

Redirects via the client

If you do not want to change any settings on the server, you can also set a redirect directly in the source code of the website. But any redirection via the source code of a web page represents another work step for the server and is therefore not recommended. Also, from an SEO perspective, such a redirect is a problem because the crawler has to follow another link to get to the page and uses up its crawl budget.

One possibility is a redirect with a meta tag at the beginning of the HTML document of the page. With a so-called meta-refresh you can ask the user’s browser to call up a second page directly after calling up one page. The problem here is that the user has to wait a few seconds for the correct page to load, and almost all of the link juice is lost.

JavaScript can also be used to set up a redirect, but it is problematic. On the one hand, JavaScript must be activated on the visitor’s browser, on the other hand, search engines interpret such a redirection as cloaking or even as URL hicjack.

What are the benefits of redirects for SEO?

If a page is no longer to be found under its original URL, redirects have several advantages

  • A dead link can be redirected with a 301 redirect to another URL
  • Duplicate content is prevented with a sensible 301 redirect
  • The 307 redirect informs visitors about server maintenance and prevents a negative user experience
  • The link juice from pages that are no longer relevant is retained with a 301 and 302 redirect.
  • Also the PageRank is not lost with a redirect

Conclusion

A redirect is a useful way to redirect a visitor to another URL for various reasons. There are various methods to prevent the user from noticing the redirection or to make the user aware of the reason for the redirection. A redirect should always be programmed through the server and not be part of the source code.

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