Don’t Update Your Website without a Proper Redirect Strategy! How to Preserve SEO & UX Gains

Meghan Ryan HeadshotPost by Meghan Ryan, SEO Analyst When updating or restructuring your website, you must seek to preserve the SEO value of your pages.  Don’t reverse hard-earned SEO rankings (or upset users) by removing/changes pages without a proper redirect strategy! A redirect is a way to send both users and search engines to a different URL from the one they originally requested. Below are the best practices I find most beneficial for brands regarding the implementation of redirects.

301 vs. 302 Redirects

301 Redirects A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect which passes between 90-99% of link juice, or ranking power, to the redirected page. Effectively, a 301 redirect tells a search engine that a page’s content has been permanently moved to a new URL, and that search engines should now index the new URL in place of the old, redirected URL. In most instances, a 301 redirect is the best method for implementing redirects because it maintains most of the SEO value of a webpage. I recommend implementing 301 redirects when permanently redirecting users and search engines, such as when:

  • A URL’s content is permanently moved to or replaced by a new URL
  • All website content permanently moves to a new domain
  • A page receives a 404 error or has expired content (assuming relevant content exists)

302 Redirects A 302 redirect is a temporary redirect and passes 0% of link juice. In most cases, 302 redirects should not be used unless the brand plans on bringing users back to the originally redirected page.

One-to-One vs. Group Redirects

One-to-One Redirects Most redirects will redirect from one old URL to one new URL. These are referred to as one-to-one redirects. Group Redirects Brands also have the option to redirect entire directories of a website to one new URL or a set of URLs. These are referred to as group redirects. Group redirects adhere to the same response codes as one-to-one redirects – use either 301 redirects for permanent redirects or 302 redirects for temporary changes. Group redirects are incredibly helpful when:

  • Switching domains and migrating all content to a new domain
  • Undergoing a site-wide change in URL structure
  • Migrating a portion of the website’s content to a new location

Considerations when Implementing Redirects

Choose a Relevant Page A redirect is meant to tell search engines what they should index when a webpage is no longer available, and helps a website maintain its ranking and visibility in search engines. Ensure that each redirected URL points to relevant content. Redirects that do not point to relevant content can hurt the authority of a website and provide a poor user experience. Avoid Redirect Loops A redirect loop occurs when a URL redirects to another URL, which in return redirects back to the original URL. This provides a poor user experience and may negatively affect search engine rankings. Ensure all redirects point to one destination URL in order to avoid redirect loops. In order to preserve the most SEO value of a webpage, 301 “Moved Permanently” redirects are the best type of redirect to use. Brands should implement 301 redirects on a one-to-one basis or implement group redirects when replacing or migrating large portions of the website. Ensure that all redirects point to relevant content and avoid redirect loops to provide the best user experience and to allow search engines to most easily crawl the website.

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