If you have just started in SEO and you are still in the process of learning the basics, hearing the terms “301 redirect” or “302 redirects” would feel overwhelming. It sounds so technical because, in reality, it is indeed technical. However, if you want to proceed with SEO, you should learn what these technical terms mean because they can greatly impact your marketing strategy.
In a nutshell, “redirect” means to lead something or someone to another location using a different route. In SEO and digital marketing terms, this simply means assigning a different URL to the created page. However, redirecting pages usually includes creating a new set of design, layout, or a new website overall. All of these depend on the purpose and objective of redirecting.
Reasons for Redirecting:
There are a few reasons why marketers are redirecting a page to another URL. These include:
- Broken URLs
- The website has already closed and transferred to a new one
- You want your old traffic to see your new website
- You are conducting an A/B testing scheme when it comes to functionality and design
- You are doing a revamp or renovation of your website and you do not want to disrupt the experience of your customers
When Should You Use Redirects?
As an SEO marketer, it is important that you observe 301 redirect whenever there are changes in the URL or when you are moving or deleting content. Moreover, if you are revamping the navigational structure of your entire website, a redirect is a must.
Why is it important? Remember that links and URLs in SEO is the heart of every strategy. So, it is important that as much as possible, you retain their value.
As we have mentioned above, 301 and 302 redirects are technical so if you do not have an idea about how to do this, it would be best if you get a web developer to do the job instead of risking a total mess-up trying to experiment.
Generally, PHP code should be placed inside the public_html folder in the hosting. Note that there is a slight difference between 301 redirect and 302 redirects.
- 301 Redirect: This is also called a permanent redirect. This means that every single aspect of the original page should be sent to the new page URL including the PageRank, Page Authority, MozRank, and Traffic Value. This redirect will notify Google to remove the previous page and the new page will take over it.
- 302 Redirect: This is the opposite of the 301 redirect. Meaning, this redirect is temporary. This is the right thing to do if you are trying to fix the original page and you want your audience to continue their experience and then bring them back to the original page when you are done with the edits and fixes. Note that you should be careful using 302 redirects. One mistake can greatly impact your visibility in search engines.
Questions and Answers
Q: Is it safe to implement 301 redirect for everything without worrying about my traffic?
A: Generally, it is never a good idea to redirect. As much as possible, you want to avoid them because they can carry a lot of risks. Although Google has stopped penalizing 301 redirects and pulls out PageRank as a punishment, remember that Page Rank is just one small factor in what Google considers to rank your website.
Ideally, you would not worry about losing traffic if your redirect just changes the URL. Avoid redirecting to a page that contains different content from the original one. Not only will this be a waste of time but it will affect your search engine visibility as well.
Q: How about 302 redirects? Are they better?
A: The short answer is No. Google has already found out that many marketers are using 302 redirects to confuse their algorithms and this has led them to implement heavier penalties to those websites they found to have been excessively using 302 redirects.
If you find yourself without an option but to do redirects, here are a couple of practices you need to observe to ensure that there will only be minimal damages.
- Always be careful and think twice before doing any redirects. All redirects are risky and they will affect your visibility in various degrees.
- All kinds of redirects can preserve the page rank but through it all, 301 redirects would be the most ideal.
- Never redirect to a page that is not relevant to the original page.
- As much as possible, only do a redirect if every element of the page is intact and you only need to change the URL.
Redirects are helpful especially if you do not want to disrupt the navigation experience of your traffic. But, it may take a lot of toll on your search engine visibility. So, make sure you proceed with caution and only use them when extremely necessary.
Ritu Sharma is the Content Insights Manager at SEO Services Company PageTraffic, one of Asia’s most award-winning & recognized Digital Search Marketing agency. She has been the spearhead of many successful Content Marketing Campaigns for PageTraffic.