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  • SEO TIPS: Understanding Redirects

    There are multiple valid reasons as to why you may need to use a page redirect to a different page. Redirects are basically an automatic loading of alternate pages without the user requesting that page. It’s basically a matter of convenience and a way to keep visitors happy by not needing to conduct constant searches on your site. The user may have requested a specific page by clicking on a link and may be under the impression they will be landing at a certain page, but redirects ensure that the user will land on a page which is different from the requested page. That is a redirect, and all web surfers have used them at some point.
    The redirect is generally harmless and without nefarious intent. Usually a page has been replaced and not all links updated. When that happens any visitor attempting to land at the defunct page will simply be sent on to the new version. Not bad intentions, no misdirection. Just a matter of convenience. Of course, using a redirect function to ‘cloak’ and send a visitor to a totally unrelated page is not a good practice. Avoid anyone who tells you differently – a good SEO will never cloak. This is a basic black hat trick.
    Here are some examples of why you might use a redirect. IA perfect example is if  the URL or the domain name of a website changes, or the website is be moved to a different domain altogether. At times two or more websites may be merged demanding a redirect to the right page. If there are no redirects, the browser will result in 404 ‘Page cannot be found.’ error.  It is not good to have URL requests ending in 404 pages, as it reduces faith in your site and causes a high bounce rate. This is a common and perfectly legitimate reason to use a redirect.
    When a new site replaces the old one, you will lose your precious traffic and rankings for those keywords if you don’t use a redirect. By implementing the appropriate redirects, you will be able to keep your regular traffic and existing ranking for all your important keywords. Otherwise, a lot of hard work has gone down the drain.
    Here’s what you need to know. Search engines will allow two types of redirect: 301 and 302 redirects. It is important you know the difference. A 301 redirect will inform the

    search engine that the change is permanent and the old page is gone for good. You should use 301 redirect or permanent redirects ONLY when you are sure that you will NEVER need to use the old page again. This is the best option when you move the entire website to a new domain. You have to be sure everything works before you implement this redirect.
    Another scenario in which you may use a 301 redirect when you are completely redesigning your website and switching to more SEO friendly URLs for your website to gain better traffic. If this is the case, your old pages will still be listed in the search results, and without a redirect, people will end up on 404 pages. This is no good because it will only cause them to give up and move on to the next listing rather than try to track you down. If it takes too much effort, almost no one will do it. They want to click and arrive where they expect to.
    The 302 redirect or temporary redirect is the second type you may need at some point. These redirects are used when you want to redirect a page temporarily to a different location. After that period, you will be able to remove your 302 redirect and start using the regular page again. Primarily, this is something you will implement when you are overhauling your site and only want to take pieces of it down at a time rather than shuttering the whole site. When you are done with one page, simply remove the 302, and apply it to the next page you need to work on. It is simple, efficient and it works great.
    Knowing what the redirects are is half the battle, but there is more to it. You have to properly use these two types of redirects because it can affect your ranking adversely if you choose the wrong option. When you use a 301 redirect when you want to revert to the original page, there is a possibility of losing the ranking of the old pages, because the search engine could possibly re-index your website before you revert your change. This is a real danger you may encounter.
    You need to also be aware when you use a 302 redirect and the page is completely moved, it will affect the ranking of the new page. Consider first how the redirect will work and choose the right type of redirect for each individual situation. The effort required for setting both types of redirects is the same but the effect they will have on your website is completely different. Make sure your SEO firm uses redirect best practices. Don’t just accept their word on it – make sure it is being done correctly.


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