Redirection and the Impact on SEO Rankings
September 25. 2021
SEO is essential for getting considerable and consistent website traffic. However, it can be so delicate that even the slightest change or error can affect it. This is exceptionally emphasized when you want to overhaul your entire website. But also when you want to change just a few pages. One of the common issues web administrators are facing is dealing with redirects. Sometimes you want to change the URL address, entirely delete a page, test something, or migrate your website. If that is the case, you don’t want to lose all the visitors and potential traffic. In other words, you don’t want to reset your existing SEO efforts. For this, you will want to proceed carefully with redirection because it can have an impact on SEO rankings. A negative impact is something you will want to avoid.
Impact of redirection on SEO rankings
Forwarding one URL address to another is something we call redirecting. For example, when you change the URL of one of your pages. If your old page has good ranking positions, people will continue to see and click on it in search engines. What happens next is that the visitor is redirected to the new address, often even without noticing. That is, in case you set the redirection right. Without redirection, visitors will get a 404 error page, and this is not something you will want. The same happens with broken links, or when you delete the page. Overall, redirection is a general part of website maintenance and is usually required during updates.
Why are redirection and the impact on SEO important?
Whether you own a blog or an eCommerce store, getting as many visitors as possible is essential. The success of both will depend on the number of visitors they receive. A blog may rise in popularity and become more convenient for monetization. While online stores’ revenue directly depends on the number of eventual purchases. If for some reason, you want to redirect some pages, one wrong step can ruin all the hard work. This can happen when you are updating your website, pages, or replacing and modifying URLs.
How does redirecting affect SEO?
There are two major ways redirecting can affect your SEO:
- It can ruin your visitors’ experience and reduce your website traffic
- Redirecting, if not properly managed, can hurt all the SEO “points” you have earned with search engines.
In the first case, your users will end up on broken or error pages without the answer to their needs. For example, if your services page does not load, visitors will quit searching and go to competitors instead. As for search engines, you will lose the ranking position for specific keywords. If they can’t match your content with the search query and can’t find relevance, they will rate you down.
A solution: Redirect your pages to the new pages as soon as possible, so crawlers don’t remove you. Or, you can try to mitigate the damage by redirecting to the closest page that matches the old topic.
Different types of redirect
While they are not the only ones, there are two convenient redirect methods:
- 301 redirect
- 302 redirect
Probably the best way to redirect your pages is to use a 301 redirect. That is if you want to permanently redirect your pages. For SEO, this is suitable because it’s completely passing the authority to a new page. This redirect will not ruin your SEO efforts so you should use it whenever possible. Basically, visitors won’t feel the change at all. And even Google will replace the old page with new in its index without consequences.
If you don’t want permanent redirecting and need just a temporary solution, you should use a 302 redirect. It will notify the visitors that the page they are looking for is coming back soon, and the new one is there just temporary. As a temporary option, 302 won’t affect your SEO. But if you are using it instead of 301, it will after a while.
What if you are migrating the whole website?
Migrating your entire website to another domain is a bit tricky. In case you want to do it properly, you will have to do it in steps. This includes domain redirect by using 301 redirects for everything. It’s the only way to preserve page scores and save your SEO performance. For domain migration, probably the best option is to follow the Google recommendations and use server-side permanent redirects. It’s appropriate for rebranding, changing the name of your website, or switching to another domain.
In simple words, chain redirections are nothing more than what the name implies. It just indicates that there are several redirections happening between the original and the new address. While this might not be noticeable right away, if the “chain” is getting larger it can lead to redirect errors and considerably affect the website’s loading performance. If you don’t want the long chains to affect your SEO and user experience, you should start cleaning and optimizing redirections on your website. After each website update, check your redirects to see if some change is inconveniently long.
Setting up a page redirection
Setting up redirection is not complex. But it will depend on the server you are using. Whether it’s the Apache, Nginx, or some other, you will have to modify its config file. Or, the .htaccess file if your website is built on WordPress. While there are other methods, like using plugins for WordPress, for example, direct modification on server level is a preferable option. Typically, you will need to copy and paste the code into the right folder on your host. Speaking of which, the hosting provider will provide you with support and guidelines about how to do it properly.
The best part about redirection is not about simply directing users to new pages. It’s about the ability to preserve all the links and SEO value of your content. It saves time, effort, and money by not having to deal with all of this manually. You can completely update your business website without having to worry about repercussions. Just ensure you properly organize redirection and the impact on SEO rankings will be minimal if any, at all.