A redirect occurs when a user’s requested URL automatically forwards them to another URL, either on a new webpage or website.
A redirect occurs when a user’s requested Uniform Resource Locator (URL) automatically forwards them to another URL, either on a new webpage or website. Different types exist for different reasons. Likewise, each type of redirect transfers its own amount of link equity, page authority, and page rank. Choosing the right redirect for your needs can ensure that any search engine optimization (SEO) value from your content marketing or link building efforts is not lost in the transition.
There are two general types of redirects: server-side and client-side. In short, server-side activity refers to the activity that occurs on a given web “server,” while client-side activity refers to software that runs in a browser on a given “client’s” computer.
Below are the most common types of server-side redirects:
The following are common client-side redirects:
Permanently routing traffic from one page to a new URL is the essence of a 301 redirect. This rerouting passes the majority of link equity making it appealing to anyone who may be changing a company name, rebranding a company, or directing traffic from a similarly named URL. Essentially, a 301 redirect informs the search engine of your website’s whereabouts.
Meant for only temporary use, a 302 redirect passes precisely no link equity to a new URL, given that it informs the search engine to keep the old URL in its index. No page rank, page authority, or traffic value is lost from the old URL, while none is gained in the new one. This type of redirect should be applied only if a webmaster knows they will revert back to their original URL soon again.
Similar to a 302, a 307 redirect should be used for only a brief amount of time. Though they perform the same function, the 307 has become the preferred choice of redirect as it clearly states that the move is temporary. The 302, on the other hand, is often vague, leaving the search engine crawlers to decide whether or not a webmaster actually meant to employ the redirect.
Meta refresh redirects are commonly associated with countdowns. Think of the phrase “if you are not redirected in ten seconds, click here.” This request can either refresh the page a user is currently on or bring them to a new page. During this transfer, no link equity is passed.
Using a meta refresh redirect is sometimes frowned upon by SEO experts as it disrupts the user experience. Redirecting a user without their permission can lead to confusion or even distrust of the webpage. Its once frequent use by spammers has made search engines wary as well. Too many meta refreshes by the same URL may cause search engines to deem the site as spam and even remove it from their index.
Despite some confusion on the internet, 400’s responses are not redirects, but rather error messages. Below are a few notable errors:
Using redirects is a common practice for a variety of scenarios. If your website needs maintenance, viewers can simply access it from a temporary site. Moreover, if you’re fully rebranding your company, you may benefit from creating a more relevant website name.
Any permanent move, such as the one in the second example, is always better off with a 301 redirect. These will not hurt any SEO value acquired by your old URL, as search engine bots transfer all page rank, traffic, and page authority to the new one.
If your goal is not to pass link equity to a new URL, a 302 or 307 may be more appropriate. These redirects neither help nor hurt SEO. However, they can affect traffic in the long run. The 302 and 307 redirects are intended for only temporary use.
Employing a 302 redirect is usually not recommended. Although it is useful for redesigning or updating a website, when traffic is redirected for too long a site’s search engine visibility becomes negatively impacted. SEO specialists typically favor a 302 redirect in situations where they don’t want to damage their old page’s rankings.