While the way website redirects work may sound simple, setting them up incorrectly can be the reason why your website fails to perform better from an SEO standpoint. Redirects generally refer to the process of sending website visitors, search engine crawlers or bots to a different URL from the one they originally requested.
Depending on the reason why you want to redirect visitors or crawlers on your website, you need to carefully consider the available options and make sure you know how to use each one properly. Failing to do so can have a massive impact on your website traffic, search engine ranking and website profit.
The 301 and 302 redirects – the best SEO practices
301 and 302 are the most commonly used redirects. The main difference between the two is in the way you want to redirect your website URL. The 301 redirect permanently moves your website URL, while the 302 command only moves the URL temporarily.
The decision to use one redirect or the other should mainly stem from the reason why you need to redirect your website in the first place. Use these HTTP status codes when you need to redirect website visitors and display alternative web pages to them in the browser. I can’t stress the importance of properly using these redirect codes enough, because when done wrong, redirects can negatively impact your search engine optimization efforts.
- 301 redirect – the better SEO option
The 301 redirect is highly recommended if your goal is to transfer the SEO ranking and authority of an old web page to a new one. Plain and simple: the code directive provides search engines with information that your old page has moved to a new URL. As a consequence, search engines will start indexing the new web page and, should the need to update your website arise again, you can change the directive at any point in the process. With the permanent redirect, you are redirecting your web pages together with their website traffic value, authority and rank for good. The new URLs will complete consume and take over the old web pages.
- 302 redirect – fewer SEO benefits
The use of temporary redirects tells search engines to continue indexing old pages. This can significantly impact your SEO results since search engines will continue to rank old web pages that you’ve already abandoned completely. However, while you’re optimizing the new page URL, make sure to be vigilant about not having duplicate content on both the old and the new pages at the same time as it can become an issue. The temporary redirect is most useful when you ultimately intend to take your website visitors back to the old web page after some time. In the process, the new web page will not get the website rank, authority and traffic transferred from the old page as the latter will retain its index numbers. The danger of using the 302 redirect lies in its capacity to damage your SEO performance, especially website visibility in the eyes of search engines.
The essence of using redirects on your website
There must be a good reason why you need to have a redirect on your website. Most of the time, website owners opt to redirect their web pages for the following reasons:
- A web page URL is broken or isn’t working.
- There is a need to redirect an old web page to a new domain.
- A particular web page or website isn’t active anymore.
- A web page is transferred to an old domain that already has links or high search engine authority.
- An A/B test was conducted on a certain web page.
- A web page is undergoing design changes.
- A web page’s CMS has changed requiring a new URL structure.
- Two existing web pages have merged into one.
SEO benefits of redirects
The use of either the 301 or 302 redirect enables website visitors to view the new website URL only while you are updating your site’s CMS platform, deleting a web page or changing the website design. Do it right and you won’t interfere with the visitor navigation experience and the changes will not even be noticeable. By using the proper redirect according to your website and SEO needs, you can limit the impact of redirecting your website URL from Google’s organic and traffic referrals from your old web page. It can also help you save your valuable SEO authority and preserve your current website search engine ranking despite the changes that you have made.
Monitor the impact of redirects on your SEO campaigns
Taking into regard the fact that the use of the 301 and 302 redirects can impact your website search engine ranking, you need to closely monitor how your website performs in searches. The use of an advanced search engine ranking tools like SE Ranking can help you determine the extent of the effect of redirecting visitors to your website in search engines. With this kind of tool, you are in control of your journey toward a more profitable search engine optimization process, equipped with the ability to monitor the effect of using either the 301 or 302 redirects and the effect they have on website visibility, traffic and Google ranking.