Digital marketers consider redirects as a natural part of a site’s evolution, which can be true, but they can become annoying and useless as well. For instance, you are creating a service page or blog post that is relevant today. But maybe in the future it is possible that it will no longer make sense to keep it live. So what you can do in that case? Redirect it to a similar page on your website. If you are shifting a website or redesigning the structure of your website, you can have many redirects in place.
What is a Redirect?
Let’s jump right in
How to avoid redirect mistakes that can hurt your traffic?
Redirects or methods used to redirect can be advantageous for your websites traffic and SEO or it can also cause traffic and rankings to drop. This is one of those domains where a simple mistake can have major consequences for your website traffic.
It is important to avoid these redirect mistakes and then watch out for them if you are experiencing a traffic drop.
1. Redirecting everything to your homepage
Let’s face it, if you are redirecting every page to your homepage thinking it will rank for competitive terms, you are doing more harm than good. John Mueller has talked about this a few years ago-
Redirecting everything to just the homepage is a really bad practice because we lose all of the signals that are associated with the old content.
He’s explaining that when different pages are redirecting to your home page, it is a red flag for search crawlers. This will not send a positive signal to Google and the value of the content will get lost.
2. Sending crawlers through redirect chain nightmares
I’m sure you don’t want to lower the users experience and impact your sites ranking, don’t you? Create redirect chains. They’re very easy to create if you have multiple people working on your site because these happen a lot. Multiple redirects usually take place in a chain. You should create a single redirect to avoid a redirect chain that can potentially slow down the speed of the website and eventually increase the bounce rate.
3. Using a 302 redirect instead of a 301 redirect
I’m sure you must be confused about which redirect you should use, 302 redirect or a 301 redirect? But, a lot of website owners don’t think it matters what type of redirect they use because page A is still being redirected to page B. But they are wrong. As 301 redirects are permanent.
So use a 301 redirect if you want to let the search engines know that the redirect is permanent. The SEO value of the original page or website will be in place, and the original site or page will stop being indexed.
Whereas, 302 redirects are temporary. A 302 redirects means the page is redirecting temporarily but will be back soon. You should use these redirects when you are temporarily moving. Such as, when you are testing out a new design or sending visitors to a new page because of a redesign taking place.
You are informing search engines that the page will be back so it will remain indexed and retain all PageRank. The new page that you are redirecting to will not receive any of the link equity of the original page. You are basically living Page Rank behind with a 302 redirect. So what you can do? Use a 302 redirect if the page is going to be back soon. Otherwise 301 redirect is ideal.
4. Redirect loops just never end
You can avoid a redirect loop by having every new redirect tested. These loops usually occur when you redirect pages like-
Page 1> page 2> Page 3> Page 1
In such a scenario, the redirect will continue bringing the visitor back to Page 1 and will likely be halted by your browser, which recognizes the loop. If you look from a search crawler perspective, you will likely have the pages deindexed because the crawler has no idea what is going on. You are going to lose a lot of revenue in the process if these pages are the main lead pages or they generate a lot of traffic for your website.
5. Forgetting that case sensitivity matters
The case sensitivity matters when you write your redirect rules. John Miller also tweeted
“URLs are case sensitive, but pick whatever case you want.”
You can have “contact us” or “Contact Us” if you want. But the visitor may not likely to remember what case you used or not. Most of the users will keep the URL lowercase. There are many ways to create a redirect, but majority of people use .htaccess or Apache servers. You can eliminate case sensitive issues by using the “NC” parameter when using RewriteRule.
6. Not tracking the redirects
I mean every marketer or website owner should create protocols in order to track changes to their site. This is very important if you have an enterprise website, thousands of pages, or if you work with a lot of SEO professionals.
Why is that?
This is because you need reference points to track the changes that were made so that you can go through your analytics and find out which changes lead to the rise in traffic or the reduction in traffic. As we know redirects can be done at the page or server levels hence it is important to track them. By tracking your redirects you can help your current and future SEO professionals avoid common redirect issues that might impact your websites traffic and revenue. You should also put forth protocols that require all new redirects to be tested and verified to ensure that they are working properly.
The bottom line
Website redirects add a strong tool that can help you in shipping your traffic. It can also be used to improve the user experience. When the size and complexity of your website grows, the chances are, you will need to use redirects at some point. By avoiding the above mentioned redirect mistakes you can avoid costly, time-consuming issues in the future.
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