Page Redirection: Maintaining Your SEO
Maintaining redirects each time urls change is not as easy as it sounds. For one, page changes happen more frequently than we think or even know. In WordPress, page changes are very easy to do and sometimes unavoidable for a variety of reasons. Maintaining page redirection in these instances and many others is critical to your SEO strategy.
Page redirection is more than just a “best practice” for site owners. Misuse or erroneous use of them can also cause issues. And by issues I mean heavy server load, duplicate content and amongst other, problems with the view-able side of your website. Also known as the white screen of death is an error that can occur when too many redirects pile up. Here the page gets stuck in a redirect loop causing a page time-out or 500 error. Since 500 errors are server errors, the redirect can be fixed at the server level. However, choosing one location to enter redirects (server, browser, or website) is crucial to ensuring you avoid situations like the white screen of death.
When to Use 301 Page Redirects
Anytime the url for a page changes a redirect should be made to tell browsers that the page can now be found at this new address. This is important for many reasons. First, search engines store information on page addresses in a cache. If the page moves and you haven’t created a redirect for it, then the next time it looks in its cache for your page it will take users to the wrong one resulting in a 404 (page not found) error. While the page may be easy to find with a little effort, an error like this may not be worth the effort for many.
But the bigger reason to create a redirect for a page change is to maintain any linkage across the web that link to that page. Without a page redirect, that link and all the benefits you were getting from it, would be lost. Backlinks are hard enough to obtain so losing one to a url change is cringeworthy.
Create Redirects Anytime You …
- Move the site to a new domain
- Upgrade your site security certificate – http becomes https
- Redesign your site and pages get moved around
- Change the structure of your sites pages
- Want your links to look like: example.com instead of like: www.example.com
- Have a WordPress site and you change the title of the page
- Manually change the url
For WordPress, being able to name pages easily is a great feature, however it can also bring with it, extra maintenance. Page changes can happen so easily and so often in WordPress that many plugins offer auto redirection to redirect your pages automatically as url changes occur, a feature I recommend. Keeping up with redirects in WordPress is very close to impossible.
302 – or 307 Temporary Redirect
Temporary redirect is much less common. I would avoid using this type of redirect as much as possible since it does not maintain any link value that may have otherwise flowed thru the redirection and is stating that the page address given is only temporary and the page will be reverting back to the original url. Try to avoid using this whenever possible unless it completely makes sense to do so. There are very few instances I can think of to warrant the use of this redirect even if the location of the page will be temporary, in most cases you would still want the page authority/value to go along with the page.
Needless to say, changing the url structure or address of your pages is a fairly large disruption. Not only do you have to manually create these redirects, you have to then maintain them. Depending on where you created the original redirect, this in itself can be a challenge. Whenever possible try to change urls as little as possible. Establishing a well balanced, SEO optimized site will be difficult to achieve if pages keep getting moved around. Just as domains have authority, pages also have an established authority. Each change made lowers that value slightly and at some point will forfeit all of that value if too many page changes occur.
Finally, 404 pages make for a poor user experience and less than stellar for retaining traffic.