What is a URL Redirect?
In simple terms a Redirect is a process of forwarding one URL to another URL. It redirects users as well as search bots. In other words, when someone is trying to access URL www.abc.com , server will redirect user to the new URL. www.xyz.org
Types of Redirects
There are three types of redirects:
- 301 Permanent Redirect is the most common one, and is used in 97% of all cases and it’s the most SEO friendly way of redirecting pages. 301 redirects refers to the HTTP server response code which means “Moved Permanently”. 301 redirect is used.
- 302 Temporary Redirect – The requested URL resides temporarily under a different URL. It’s only used if you want to move content temporarily for a short period of time.
- META refresh is a page level redirect, meaning that the page instructs the browser to refresh using a different URL. It may look like a redirect, but in reality it’s just a browser refresh. It’s not SEO friendly and it’s not recommended in 99.9% all redirect cases.
META Refresh HTML Code Example:
<html> <head> <meta http-equiv="refresh" content="5;url=http://www.domain.com/example-page.html" /> <title>Page has moved</title> </head> <body> Example Text </body> </html>
Common Redirects usage as it relates to SEO ?
- Domain Redirects – The most common example would be a Domain Redirect. Most of my clients use multiple domains, and when multiple domains are pointing to the same site and are exposed to search engines, it causes severe duplicated content issues. In order to fix this, webmaster should select a primary domain and 301 redirect all secondary domains to the primary one, with parameters passing, that way you can avoid duplicated content issues associated with multiple domains. Once Search engines find the 301 redirect, they will update it’s index and consolidate duplicated results.
- Force WWW sub-domain – most of the sites on the web are accessible using both WWW version and the non WWW version causing duplicated content issues because Search Engines treat it as two different sites with duplicatd content, so it’s very important to force the Preferred version with parameters passing.
- Default page redirect – it’s another duplicated content problem caused by the Default pages such as /index.html, /index.htm, /default.cfm, /default.aspx … It’s recommended to redirect the default page to you homepage.
- Site Migrations – if you are switching CMS (content management system), it’s crucial that you map your old content to your new content and implement redirects, otherwise your old URLs will return 404 errors, as a result you will lose traffic and rankings.
- Basic Redirects – if you want to change your URL, it’s important to redirect your old URL to the new URL, otherwise your old URLs will return a 404 error Page Not Found error, as a result you will lose traffic and rankings.
- Vanity URLs – very common redirect, most of my clients use Vanity URLs (Short URLs) for marketing purposes and print materials. So instead of www.abc.com/Pages/Ear-Nose -and-Throat-Surgery.aspx you can create something more user friendly and easy to remember like www.abc.com/ENT
- mod_Rewrite module – Apache server based module. mod-Rewrite uses a rule-based rewriting engine based on a regular-expressions to rewrite and redirect requested URLs. It supports an unlimited number of redirect rules and conditions for each redirect rule, to provide a robust URL manipulation mechanism.
- IIRF 2.1 Ionic ISAPI Rewrite Filter for IIS – This is what I use on the daily basis, It’s Free, small, open source, easy to use URL rewriting filter, it’s is based on Regular Expressions.
- UrlRewriting.Net – an Open Source Component for easy and reliable rewriting URLs with ASP.NET in IIS
- the IIS6 Resource Kit – UrlRemap tool – Internet Information Services (IIS) 6.0 Resource Kit Tools
- ISAPI Rewrite from Helicon Tech – is a strong URL manipulation engine based on REGEX. It works like Apache’s mod_Rewrite, but is designed specifically for IIS
- IIS URL Rewrite 2.0 , from Microsoft – URL Rewrite allows Admins to build rules using rewrite providers written in .NET, REGEX pattern matching, and wildcard mapping. This tool has a user friendly interface and a REGEX tester. I personally don’t like it, because it uses web.config to store rules rather than using a text file similar to .htaccess or IIRF.ini