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Redirects can be very useful if you want to change your URL structure or if a webpage has been moved or deleted. But you need to make sure that you use them properly, or you may create other issues.
The best way to make sure that you’re using URL redirects properly is to follow a few simple best practices
Use the Right Type of Redirects
Technically there are several types of redirects: 301, 302, and 307. Both 302 and 307 are used for pages that have been moved temporarily, while 301 redirects are for pages that have been permanently moved to a new URL.
If you’re learning how to force https, www and trailing slashes, altering the URL structure in other ways, or moving webpages to new URLs – you need to use 301 redirects.
The 302 and 307 redirects should only be used if you intend to move the page back to its original URL eventually. For example, if you’ve temporarily moved a page during site maintenance.
Check that your Redirects work
Don’t just assume that all your redirects are working. Instead, you should check the immediately and make sure that they are.
From time to time you may want to audit your redirects and make sure everything is fine. It will let you look for other issues too – such as chain redirects.
Avoid Chain Redirects
As far as possible all your redirects should be implemented directly. In other words, there should only be one redirect request to take visitors to the correct URL.
Every additional redirect in a chain will be another request that your browser needs to make. That will slow down your page speed, which in turn will affect your website’s SEO and the user experience.
Chain redirects are a common problem, especially on older sites that may have been restructured multiple times. The same applies to larger sites that have tons of links to handle. You should do whatever you can to avoid them.
Don’t Internal links
Technically once you’ve implemented a redirect, any internal links will be redirected as well. However just because that is true, it does not mean that you should overlook them.
Rather than leaving your internal links pointing to old URLs, it would be better if you change them to the new URLs. In that way they won’t need to be redirected, which will make your webpages load a little bit faster.
Be Consistent with Your URL Structure
Ideally you should sit down and decide on the type of URL structure that you want to use, and then apply it consistently to your redirects, internal links, and everything else. You should figure out whether your URL is going to use elements such as www, https, and trailing slashes’
After you decide on your URL structure, you can learn how to force https, www and trailing slashes for your redirects. Moving forward you can then apply the structure consistently, and you should encounter fewer problems if you do.
If used properly, URL redirects are extremely useful and will let you make sure that visitors end up at the right webpage. On top of that they will help with your SEO, and make sure that you don’t lose any link juice or get slapped with a penalty for duplicate content.
As you can see implementing these best practices for redirects isn’t hard, and most are very straightforward. However, they will have a big impact on your website – which is why you should use them sooner rather than later.