6 redirect errors that may hack your web site site visitors
Redirects are a natural part of developing a website.
You can create a service page or blog post that is relevant today. But there may come a time in the future when it doesn’t make sense to keep it alive.
So what are you doing? Redirect it to a similar page on your website.
When you migrate a site or change the structure of your site, you can set up dozens of redirects.
Waiting. What is a redirect?
A redirect is a way of redirecting one URL to another. For example, suppose you sell widgets and have multiple pages:
When you stop selling just blue or white widgets, or want to combine all of the pages into one, you can redirect your blue and white widget pages to your main widgets page.
This helps keep your website organized so it takes fewer clicks to land on a page, and allows you to focus all of your optimization efforts on one page instead of many.
To learn more about the different types of redirects, check out the SEO technical guide on redirects.
6 redirect errors that can affect your website’s traffic
Any type of redirect or method used to redirect can be beneficial to your website’s traffic and SEO – or cause traffic and rankings to drop.
This is one of the areas where even a simple mistake can have serious consequences for your website’s traffic.
Make sure to avoid these forwarding errors and watch out for them whenever you experience a drop in traffic.
1. Redirect everything to your homepage
If you redirect every page to your home page in order to rank for competitive terms, you can do more harm than good. Google’s John Mueller talked about it a few years ago:
“Redirecting everything to the home page is really bad practice because we lose all of the signals associated with the old content.”
He explains that redirecting many pages to your home page is a warning sign for search crawlers.
What can happen?
Google won’t see all of the positive signals you built on the old URLs. The value of this content is lost.
2. Redirecting loops that never end
A redirect loop can easily be avoided by having each new redirect tested. These loops occur when you redirect pages like this:
Page 1> Page 2> Page 3> Page 1
In this case, the redirect will continue to take the person back to page 1 and will likely be stopped by your browser, which detects the loop. From a search crawler’s point of view, the pages are likely to be de-indexed because the crawler has no idea what is going on.
If these pages are the top lead pages or generate a lot of traffic for your website, you will lose a lot of revenue in the process.
3. Send crawlers through redirect chain nightmares Send
Do you want to decrease the user experience and affect the ranking of your website? Create forwarding chains. These happen a lot, and when multiple people are working on your website they are pretty easy to create.
Several forwardings take place in a chain.
- / about is redirected to / aboutus
- / aboutus is forwarded to / our company
- / our company will be redirected to / aboutourcompany
You want to create one single Redirect from / about to / aboutourcompany to avoid a redirect chain that:
- Slow website speeds.
- Increase the bounce rate.
Tip: If you head over to tip 6, you will find a surefire way to avoid those redirect chain nightmares.
4. Forget that capitalization is important
When writing your redirect rules, it is case sensitive.
Fortunately, John Mueller tweeted: “URLs are case sensitive, but choose the case you want.”
URLs are case-sensitive. However, choose the case you want.
– 🍌 John 🍌 (@JohnMu) June 22, 2017
You can have “/ about” or “/ about” if you want.
But if someone types your url into a browser, they probably won’t remember what case you used or not. Most people keep the URL in lower case.
There are many ways to create a redirect, but a lot of people use .htaccess on Apache servers. One way to avoid case sensitivity is to use the NC parameter when using RewriteRule.
For example, you can redirect the following page with:
Redirect 301 / about http://www.domain.com/about-new [NC]
And if the person types in “About, About, ABout” or some other combination of cases, all of them will be redirected to “about-new” with no problem.
5. Use a 302 redirect instead of a 301 redirect
Are you planning a 302 redirect or are you already using it? Should it be a 301 redirect instead?
Many website owners don’t think what type of redirect they use matters because page A is still redirected to page B.
But these site owners are wrong.
301 redirects are permanent
Do you want to let search engines know that the redirect is happening? permanent? In this case, use a 301 redirect.
The SEO value of the original page or website will be retained and the original website or page will no longer be indexed.
302 redirects are temporary
A 302 redirect says “Hey Google, this page is redirecting temporarily, but will be back soon.”
You want to use these redirects when you move temporarily, e.g. E.g. when testing a new design or sending users to a new page due to a redesign.
They’re telling the search engines that the page is coming back, so it will:
The new page you redirect to becomes Not get one of the link equity of the original page. You leave PageRank with a 302 redirect.
So what should you do?
If the page is available again soon, use a 302 redirect. Otherwise, a 301 redirect is ideal.
If 302 redirects are kept for too long, search engines like Google may actually consider this a 301 redirect.
6. Don’t track your redirects
If you have a corporate website with hundreds or thousands of pages, or if you work with a lot of SEO experts, you should keep logs to keep track of changes to your website.
You need reference points to track changes made so that you can go through your analysis and decipher which changes caused traffic to increase or decrease.
Since redirects can be done at the page or server level, it is important to keep track of them.
You may be opening your .htaccess file and not seeing a redirect for a particular page and assuming there is no redirect.
Tracking your redirects will help current and future SEO professionals avoid common redirect issues that can affect your website’s traffic and revenue.
You should also set up protocols that require that all new redirects be tested and verified to ensure that they are working properly.
Site redirects are a powerful tool that affect your traffic and can be used to improve the user experience. As your website grows in size and complexity, you will likely need to use redirects at some point.
By avoiding the above main mistakes, you can avoid costly and time-consuming problems in the future.
In-post images created by the author, July 2021