6 redirect errors that can wreak havoc on your site traffic

Redirects are a natural part of the evolution of a site.

You can create a relevant service page or blog post today. But there may come a time in the future when it doesn’t make sense to keep him alive.

So what are you doing? Redirect it to a similar page on your site.

If you are migrating a site or changing your site structure, you may have dozens of redirects in place.

Wait. What is a redirect?

A redirect is a way of forwarding one URL to another. For example, suppose you sell widgets and have multiple pages:

  • example.com/products/widgets
  • example.com/products/blue-widgets
  • example.com/products/white-widgets

If you no longer sell only blue or white widgets or want to combine all the pages into one, you can redirect your blue and white widgets pages to your main widgets page.

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This helps keep your site organized, requiring fewer clicks to land on a page, and allows you to focus all of your optimization efforts on one page instead of several.

You can choose to use many types of redirects – 301, 302, 307, 308 – and you can redirect using meta refresh, JavaScript, HTTP headers, and more.

To learn more about the different types of redirects, see the SEO Technical Guide to Redirects.

6 redirect errors that can hurt your site traffic

Each type of redirect or method used to redirect can be beneficial for your site’s traffic and SEO, or can lead to lower traffic and rankings.

This is one of those areas where even a simple mistake can have a major impact on your site traffic.

Make sure to avoid these redirect errors and be careful if you encounter traffic drop.

1. Redirect everything to your home page

Bulk redirects to the home page

If you redirect every page to your homepage in an effort to rank competitively, you may be doing more harm than good. from google John mueller spoke about it a few years ago:

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“Rerouting everything to the homepage only is very bad practice because we lose all the signals associated with old content.”

He explains that when many pages redirect to your homepage, it’s a red flag for search bots.

What can happen?

Google won’t see all of those positive signals that you had accumulated on the old URLs. The value of this content is lost.

2. Redirect loops that never end

Redirect loops.Redirect loops

A redirect loop can easily be avoided by having each new redirect tested. These loops happen when you redirect pages like this:

Page 1> Page 2> Page 3> Page 1

In this case, the redirect will continue to bring the person back to page 1 and will likely be interrupted by your browser, which recognizes the loop. From the point of view of the search crawler, the pages will likely be deindexed because the crawler has no idea what is going on.

If these pages are the main pages or generate a lot of traffic for your site, you will lose a lot of income in the process.

3. Sending bots via redirect chain nightmares

Redirect channels.Redirection chains

Do you want to reduce the user experience and have an impact on the ranking of your site? Create redirect chains. These happen a lot, and if there are multiple people working on your site, they’re pretty easy to create.

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How? ‘Or’ What?

Several redirects take place in a chain.

For example:

  • / about is redirected to / aboutus
  • / aboutus is redirected to / ourcompany
  • / ourcompany is redirected to / aboutourcompany

You want to create a Single redirect from / about to / aboutourcompany to avoid a redirect chain that can:

  • Slow site speeds.
  • Increase the bounce rate.

Advice: If you get down to tip 6, you’ll find a surefire way to avoid those redirect chain nightmares.

4. Forget that case sensitivity is important

Case sensitivity is important when writing your redirect rules.

Fortunately, John Mueller tweeted “URLs are case sensitive, but choose whatever case you want.”

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You can have “/ about” or “/ about” if you want.

But if someone types your URL into a browser, they’re unlikely to remember what case you used or not. Most people will keep the URL lowercase.

There are many ways to create a redirect, but a lot of people use .htaccess on Apache servers. One way to eliminate case sensitive issues is to use the “NC” parameter when using RewriteRule.

For example, you can redirect the next page regardless of case using:

Redirect 301 /about http://www.domain.com/about-new [NC]

And if the person types “About, About, About” or any combination of cases, all will be redirected to “About again” with no problem.

5. Use a 302 redirect instead of a 301 redirect

Are you considering or are you already using a 302 redirect? Should it be a 301 redirect instead?

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Many site owners think it doesn’t matter what type of redirect they use because page A always gets redirected to page B.

But these site owners are wrong.

301 redirects are permanent

Do you want to inform the search engines that the redirect is permanent? If so, use a 301 redirect.

The SEO value of the original page or website is retained and the original site or page will stop being indexed.

302 redirects are temporary

A 302 redirect says “Hey Google, this page is temporarily redirecting but will be back soon.”

You want to use these redirects when you move temporarily, such as when testing a new design or sending users to a new page due to an ongoing redesign.

You’re telling search engines that the page will be back, so it:

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The new page you redirect to will be do not receive one of the link actions from the original page. You leave PageRank with a 302 redirect.

So what should you do?

If the page comes back soon, use a 302 redirect. Otherwise, a 301 redirect is ideal.

If 302 redirects are kept for too long, search engines like Google may consider it to be in fact a 301 redirect.

6. Do not follow your redirects

If you have a business site, hundreds or thousands of pages, or work with a lot of SEO professionals, you need to create protocols to track changes to your site.

Why?

You need benchmarks to track changes so that you can go through your analytics and decipher which changes have caused traffic to increase or decrease.

Since redirects can be done at the page or server level, it is essential to keep track of them.

You can open your .htaccess file, not see a redirect for a certain page, and assume there isn’t one.

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Another member of your team may have used JavaScript or a page meta-refresh, causing a redirect loop.

Tracking your redirects helps current and future SEO professionals avoid common redirect issues that can impact your site’s traffic and revenue.

You should also have protocols in place that require all new redirects to be tested and verified to make sure they are working properly.

Wrap

Site redirects are a powerful tool that helps shape your traffic and can be used to improve user experience. As your site grows in size and complexity, it’s likely that you will need to use redirects at some point.

Avoiding the key mistakes above can help you avoid costly and time-consuming issues in the future.

More resources:


Image credits

In-post images created by author, July 2021

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