What are URL Redirects and How to They Affect Search Results?

While a considerable portion of search engine optimization are focused upon organic efforts such as creating personalized content and curating blog posts, it is important to remember that many approaches embrace a decidedly technical edge. One common example of this observation can be seen in the presence of 301 redirects (often referred to as URL redirects).

What is the intention of this type of redirect? When might it be used? What are the benefits in terms of search engine rankings? These are all relevant questions if you are hoping to make the most out of your online presence.

URL Redirects 101: A Basic Overview

Simply stated, any type of URL redirect is intended to forward an existing URL to a new page. The main intention is to inform Google as well as the average user that the location of a specific location has changed. This can represent a temporary modification (such as when updating the content within an existing page) or a permanent modification (in the event that an existing page has been deleted). Although these redirects will often occur “behind the scenes”, they can be just as effective as other SEO strategies such as keyword research, meta titles and visual content. Now that we have a basic understanding of the mechanics behind URL redirects, it is a good idea to take a look at the different types.

URL Redirects: More Than Meets the Eye

As mentioned earlier, these types of redirects can be classified as either temporary or permanent changes. Here are the codes for temporary redirects:

  • HTTP 302 (found)
  • HTTP 303 (see other)
  • HTTP 307 (temporary)

These three causes the server to redirect the visitor. Permanent redirects include:

  • HTTP 301
  • HTTP 308

Google will follow these signals in order to send the visitor to the appropriate page if the original has been deleted or is otherwise no longer available.

How Can URL Redirects Positively Impact Search Results?

The success or failure of any online business can be directly correlated to its SERP (search engine results page) ranking. While there are many common SEO mistakes which can lead to grave consequences, many webmasters will be surprised to learn that URL redirects may be able to improve rankings. There are several reasons why this is the case.

Saving a Lost Client

The most obvious scenario involves a visitor who is about to further engage with the website in question. When clicking upon an internal link, he or she is immediately presented with a 404 error. As the team at SEO Analyst rightfully observes, this is the perfect way to lose a client. URL redirects instead provide a “bridge” between a non-functional page and one which is able to cater to the needs of the end user.

Rebranding Concerns

It is a well-known fact that the online community has become a highly competitive marketplace. This is why businesses can sometimes choose to rebrand their presence on occasion. Of course, ablating an existing website and starting from scratch is simply not an option.

URL redirects enable an enterprise to retain all of the material that is contained within its old website. When a visitor performs a standard search, he or she will simply be sent to the updated portal. This saves a great deal of time and money while ensuring continuity.

Conglomerating Multiple Domain Names

Some online businesses have purchased numerous domain names. While this might be great in terms of their overall digital “footprint”, it is important to collate these disparate portals within a single SERP result. One of the best strategies is to utilise URL redirects. Visitors will thereafter be guided to the appropriate address.

Canonical Requirements

Many slightly different URLs may be associated with a single website. In this case, it is often wise to tell search engines which address is the most important. URL redirects can be used to channel all inbound traffic to a specified page. Not only will this help to boost the exposure of the page in question, but less end-user confusion is likely to positively impact rankings over time.

URL Redirects: The Road Map to Digital Success

We can now see why URL redirects can represent extremely useful tools. Still, there are times when implementing such elements may be tricky. This is why it is always best to consult with the specialists. As the world of SEO takes on a more technical edge, it pays to work with experts.

Ian Carroll has been a Digital Marketing and SEO specialist for over ten years and he currently runs Digital Funnel who are specialists in SEO in Cork, Ireland.

Redirects stock image by duangphorn wiriya/Shutterstock

Originally posted in Small Biz Daily

Michael Fraser

Founder & Editor-In-Chief of Entrepreneur Mogul

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