Redirects: Basics, Types & SEO Best Practices




Updated 2/5/2024

Explore the essentials of website redirection: basics, commonly used HTTP status codes, and best SEO practices. Learn how to use redirects.

redirect cover - arrows and leaves

Websites routinely need organization. Redirects are essential to maintaining your online content, ensuring visitors and web crawlers land where you intended. This reference guide covers what you need to know about redirects for SEO and beyond.

What is a Redirect?

A redirect is a way to send users and search engines to a different web page from the one they originally requested.

Redirects are used to navigate users and search engine bots to a new URL, especially when a page has been moved or deleted. They help maintain a good user experience and preserve search engine rankings.


Redirects serve multiple important functions in maintaining a user-friendly and SEO-friendly website:

  1. User Experience: Redirects ensure that users find what they want. If a page has moved, it will guide users to the new page location, keeping frustration minimal.
  2. SEO Maintenance: Without a proper redirect, a page move could be seen by search engines as a new page entirely, potentially losing any SEO ranking the original page had. A redirect can pass most of the original page’s SEO authority to the new page.
  3. Site Structure: As websites evolve, changes to the site’s structure and organization may be necessary. Redirects allow webmasters to make these changes without causing broken links or lost content.

Types of Redirects

While many types of redirects exist, only two are commonly used:


A 301 is a permanent redirect that tells search engines that the original URL has been permanently moved to a new one. This type of redirect is commonly used when a website is moved to a new domain or when a page is permanently removed.

This is the type Google recommends for most purposes, and it’s what’s best for SEO.


A 302 is a temporary redirect that tells search engines that the original URL has been temporarily moved to a new one. This type is commonly used when a website is undergoing maintenance or a page is temporarily unavailable.

How to Make Redirects

This basic process walks through a general-purpose method for applying redirects. While your site’s method might vary, these steps serve as a typical template.

1. Identify The Need

You might need a redirect when a URL changes, a page’s content is moved to another page, a page is removed from your site, or you merge two websites.

2. Choose The Correct Type

Based on your situation, choose a 301 for permanent changes or a 302 for temporary changes. Most of the time, you’ll want to go with a 301.

3. Implement It

The process for implementing a redirect varies based on your website’s platform. For many servers, they can be set up in the .htaccess file. Content Management Systems (CMS) like WordPress often have plugins like Yoast SEO to manage them.

4. Test The Page

After setting up the redirect, test it by visiting the old URL to ensure you’re properly forwarded to the new URL.

5. Monitor Your Results

After implementation, monitor tracking tools like Google Analytics and Search Console reports to ensure your redirects are working correctly and not negatively impacting your website’s performance.

SEO Tips for Redirects

Use 301 redirects whenever possible. 301s pass the majority of link equity (SEO value) from the old URL to the new one, thereby preserving the page’s search ranking.

This is unlike other types of redirects, such as 302, which don’t pass as much link equity.

However, it’s also essential to use them sparingly and logically. Too many can slow down site speed, impacting the user experience and potentially harming SEO.

Avoid creating redirect loops, as they confuse search engines and users.

Remember, whenever you delete or move a page with good SEO value, always use a 301 to an equivalent or relevant page to preserve as much of that value as possible.

Bottom Line

Understanding and effectively implementing redirects is crucial for maintaining a well-functioning, user-friendly, and search-friendly website.

If you use them correctly, you can ensure your users find what they’re looking for, preserve your SEO rankings, and maintain your site structure as it evolves. ?

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