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The Beginner’s Guide to URL Redirects

A URL redirect forwards one URL and points it to a different URL. The goal is to replace the URL that isn’t functioning (or that you no longer want to use, but don’t want to lose traffic to) by sending it to one that is. There are a few different scenarios where redirection is used.

One scenario where a redirect is necessary is when a website changes its domain name or when a page reads as a 404 because it was deleted or renamed.

DOMAIN NAME CHANGE

Whether it’s for SEO or branding, if the domain has changed, every page within it needs to be redirected. When a user enters the old domain, the new domain will automatically register. The same goes for backlinks. If the website already has established backlinks built from various directories, blogs and websites (no matter what page it’s pointing to), it will redirect to the new site. Be sure to create a spreadsheet of every page to ensure there are none missed. It would also be helpful to scour your Google Search Console “Links to Your Site” section, under the Search Traffic list to make sure that you are are redirecting pages you may not have known were being linked to.

Redirecting the URLs will prevent the bounce rate from increasing unnecessarily and decreasing traffic because of a bad user experience.

As mentioned before, there are different types of redirects. This includes:

  • 301 —  a permanent redirect, which is recommended for SEO
  • 302 — a temporary redirect

For SEO, a permanent 301 redirect is almost always the best choice. A 302 redirect is appropriate in a web design scenario. Whether it’s for A/B testing of a web page or to show a client the design before it’s finalized, a 302 redirect will tell search engines to continue to index the original URL. It’s also used for promotions. A 302 is put in place for the promotion page and changed back when the promotion is over.

Ok, now that you’ve decided what redirect will work best for you and your site, here is a step-by-step, easy guide on how to create solid redirects on both Shopify and WordPress platforms.

Shopify:

  1. Log in to your Shopify account
  2. Click “Online Store” on the left side
  3. Click “Navigation”
  4. Click “URL redirects” in the upper-right corner
  5. Click “Add URL redirect”
  6. Enter the old path and the path of redirection
  7. Click “Add URL redirect”

*Once completed, do a test to make sure it was entered correctly.

WordPress:

The beauty of WordPress is that there are plugins for just about everything. There are several for redirection, one that Always Found uses often is Eggplant Studios EPS 301 Redirects. You will need to install it (or any other redirection plugin you choose) onto your site. You can find it here.

  1. Log in to your WordPress account
  2. Click “Settings” on the left side
  3. Click “EPS Redirects”
  4. Choose “301” in the dropdown under “Redirect From”
  5. Put the old URL in the box under “Redirect From” and the new URL in the “Redirect To”
  6. Click “Save”

*Once completed, do a test to make sure it was entered correctly.

Helpful Tip: While you don’t want your users to end up on a 404 page, it’s still best practice to have one ready to go if a problem arises. It can be a simple “this page no longer exists” message with a link to the homepage, or it can be something related to the website’s theme. Our parent company’s 404 page is an example — https://huemor.rocks/404.

For the times that redirects are planned, there’s not much risk. Other times, you’ll want to have an SEO maintenance team on your side. A team that has access to your backlinks also has access to the links that go from their original form to a 404. Noticing this is key, not necessarily because it will have a major impact on the rank of the page, but more so because it is bad for user experience, and user experience is always a priority.

Our team will thoroughly inspect where the issue is coming from, if it’s a page of high importance and how much traffic goes to the page. If it’s one of high importance and/or high traffic, you’ll want to have it redirected as soon as possible. Frustrated users can lead to less content views, therefore leading to less shares and backlinks, which can then impact the rankings. We’ll assess each case and make the necessary changes!

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