Redirects & SEO: Everything you need to know about redirects

Veröffentlicht: 10. May 2024

Have you ever wondered why some websites immediately redirect you to another URL when you click on them? Or why it is so important that these redirects are set up correctly?

Redirects are a crucial tool in the world of technical search engine optimization.

Not only do they help improve the user experience by directing visitors to relevant content quickly and efficiently, but they also maintain your website’s ranking and authority even if pages are moved or deleted.

In this article, you will learn how to strategically use redirects to achieve your SEO goals.

Redirects explained in under 60 seconds

We’ll look at the different types of redirects, explain in which situations you should use them, and discuss how to implement them correctly to avoid mistakes that could harm your website.

What role do redirects play in SEO?

Redirects can be important for your SEO for several reasons. As a rule, the aim is to avoid any loss of ranking when changes are made to the website structure and to maintain the flow of visitors as planned.

Maintaining link authority and rankings

If a website is moved and changes its URL, the backlinks associated with the old URL may lose their effect if no suitable redirect is set up. By using 301 redirects, which are permanent redirects, the link authority is transferred from the old to the new URL.

This helps to maintain the ranking in search engines, as the history of backlinks is retained and continues to be used to evaluate the page.

Improving the user experience

Redirects also help to improve the user experience by ensuring that visitors are directed to relevant content even if URLs have changed or no longer exist.

A well-implemented redirect can lead the visitor seamlessly to the desired page without encountering error pages such as 404 (Not Found). This minimizes user frustration and reduces the bounce rate.

Avoidance of duplicate content

Sometimes it can happen that the same content is accessible via several URLs, which can lead to problems with duplicate content. Search engines could interpret such content as spam or only keep one version in the index, which can affect the visibility of the other versions.

By using redirects, webmasters can ensure that search engines and users are directed to the preferred URL, which effectively solves the problem of duplicate content.

Support with website maintenance and restructuring

Websites are constantly developing and changing. When restructuring or relaunching a website, redirects help to ensure smooth transitions for users and search engines.

They are crucial for redirecting traffic from old to new pages and help to keep the structure of the website transparent for search engines.

Handling temporary changes

Sometimes changes are only temporary, e.g. during promotional campaigns or during website maintenance.

Temporary redirects (such as 302 or 307) inform search engines that the change is only temporary and that the original URL will be restored later. This prevents the temporary URL from being permanently indexed in the search results.

Legal and geographical adjustments

In some cases, content must be presented differently due to legal restrictions or geographical target group adaptations. Redirects can be used here to direct users to the relevant pages based on their location or legal requirements.

What types of forwarding are there?

Let’s take a look at the most common 3xx redirects as well as special redirect codes that provide important information about the status of websites.

301 Moved Permanently

A 301 redirect is used to indicate that a page has been permanently moved to a new address. This code should be used if content has been permanently transferred to a new URL, as it signals to search engines that the old URL should be replaced by the new one.

A permanent redirect is particularly useful for maintaining search engine rankings, as the link authority is transferred from the old page to the new one.

302 Moved Temporary

A 302 status code indicates that a resource is temporarily found under a different URL. In contrast to a 301 redirect, a 302 redirect does not retain the link authority and should therefore only be used if a page is temporarily moved and the original URL will soon be the primary one again.

307 Temporary redirect

n contrast to the 302 redirect, which in practice can sometimes lead to the HTTP method changing from POST to GET, the 307 redirect ensures that the method of the original request is retained.

This means that if a request was originally sent as POST, it will remain POST, even after redirection. This is crucial for the functionality of web applications, where the method has important operational meanings.

308 Permanent redirect

The 308 status code is a newer addition and works similarly to the 301 status code, but with a stricter adherence to the method specification. With a 308 redirect, the method of the request (e.g. GET or POST) is retained in exactly the same way as with a 307 redirect.

Special redirects: 410 Gone and 451 Unavailable For Legal Reasons

410 Gone

The 410 status code is a clear statement that a resource has been permanently removed and will not be available again. This is stronger than a 404 (Not Found) as it clearly communicates that it is a permanent removal. This code is particularly useful for efficiently directing search engine crawlers by helping them clean up their indexes faster.

451 Unavailable For Legal Reasons

The 451 status code is used to indicate that access to the resource is denied for legal reasons, such as government censorship requirements. This code is important for webmasters to communicate legal requirements, while also providing transparency for users who want to understand why the content is not available.

When should you use which forwarding?

CriterionSituationRecommended redirect typeReason
Permanence of the changePermanent relocation (e.g. permanent URL change)301 (Moved Permanently)Signals the permanent shift to search engines, supports the transfer of link authority.
Temporary change (e.g. maintenance of the page)302 (Found) or 307 (Temporary Redirect)Indicates that the original URL will be restored later without changing the search engine rankings.
Inquiry methodMethod of the request must be retained (GET or POST)307 (Temporary Redirect) or 308 (Permanent Redirect)Ensures that the method of the request is not changed, which can be important for functionality.
Special situationsResource permanently removed410 (Gone)Informs search engines and users that the page no longer exists and helps to clean up the index quickly.
Content not available for legal reasons451 (Unavailable For Legal Reasons)Provides effective information about the legal unavailability of content, important for transparency and compliance.
Guidelines for selecting the correct redirect status code

Correct implementation of server-side redirects

Here is your step-by-step guide to effectively implementing server-side redirects:

1. planning and strategy

Before you make any changes, plan carefully which URLs need to be changed and why. Create a clear roadmap of current and future URL structures. This helps to minimize errors and keep track of redirects.

2. selection of the correct type of redirect

Determine whether a redirect should be permanent (301) or temporary (302, 307) based on the nature of the URL change.

3. implementation on the server

The implementation of redirects can be different on different servers. Here are the common methods for Apache and Nginx:

Apache: Edit the .htaccess file to set up redirects. Here is an example of a 301 redirect:

Redirect 301 /alte-seite.html /neue-seite.html

For greater control, especially with more complex redirect patterns, you can also use RewriteRule:

RewriteEngine On
RewriteRule ^alte-seite.html$ /neue-seite.html [R=301,L]

Nginx: In Nginx, you insert redirects directly into the server configuration file. A 301 redirect looks like this, for example:

server {
    rewrite ^/alte-seite.html$ /neue-seite.html permanent;

4. testing the redirects

After you have implemented the redirects, test them thoroughly to make sure they work as expected. Check that the redirects return the correct HTTP status code and that no redirect loops or chains are created.

5. monitoring and adjustment

After implementation, it is important to monitor the performance of the redirects. Use tools such as Screaming Frog or Google Search Console to check how the redirects are processed by search engines. Pay attention to changes in search engine rankings and website traffic to ensure that the redirects do not have a negative impact.

Management of redirects specifically for WordPress users

WordPress users have the advantage of being able to access a variety of plugins that simplify the setup and management of redirects. These include, among others:

  • Rank Math: An excellent SEO plugin for WordPress that also offers powerful redirect management features. It is becoming increasingly popular in the WordPress community as it combines a comprehensive range of SEO tools in a single plugin.
  • Yoast SEO Premium: In addition to its extensive SEO features, Yoast also offers an integrated redirect management tool that can be accessed directly in the WordPress dashboard. It is particularly useful for users who already use other Yoast SEO features.
  • All In One SEO Pack: All In One SEO Pack is another comprehensive SEO plugin that offers functions for redirect management. In addition to SEO optimizations, you can set up and manage 301 redirects with this plugin, making it a good all-in-one solution for many WordPress sites.
  • SEO Redirection Plugin: The SEO Redirection Plugin is another good option for WordPress users. It allows you to set up 301, 302 and 307 redirects and offers functions for importing and exporting redirect rules, which is particularly useful if you need to manage many redirects.
  • Simple 301 Redirects: Simple 301 Redirects offers, as the name suggests, a simple way to set up 301 redirects. It is particularly suitable for users who are looking for an uncomplicated solution without additional functions.
Hannes Kaltofen

Hannes Kaltofen

Gründer & Geschäftsführer

Seit über 7 Jahren in den SERPs unterwegs. Dank SEO konnte Ich das Affiliate Marketing, Blogging und Agenturgeschäft kennelernen und helfe Unternehmen tagtäglich bei ihrer Sichtbarkeit.

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