Redirect The SEO Way

Update Your Links And Retain PR When Redirecting

There are many reasons one would choose to rename or move a webpage. Renaming a page and removing the old page will result in a new page with a new PR ranking. By redirecting the old page to the new page, you can retain PR. Renaming or moving a webpage for any reason can create problems for you, users, and search engines.  Every link on your site must be updated to point to the new URL name. This is not something you can hurry and forget about. If your site is large, you will inevitably make mistakes, mainly forgetting to update a link or two. When visitors click on your links, they get the dreaded 404, “page not found” error. As a result robots, spiders, indexers, and search engines will avoid your site if the issue is not properly resolved in a timely manner. 

Avoid Custom Error Pages And Duplicate Content

Avoid using custom error pages as redirects. This can cause issues with both search engines and users. Search engines may see your custom error pages as low quality content, while users may be annoyed and unable to find what they're looking for. Merely copying pages, and having two identical versions with different names is not a viable solution. This can cause search engines to penalize your site for manipulation or be filtered for duplicate content. Allowing search engines to decide what content they think is best to serve can yield undesirable results.

Avoid Meta Refresh Redirects

You could use a meta refresh on a web page with the old page URL. The meta refresh could be set to redirect the user immediately or after a delay. With the delayed redirect, you could place an additional message, informing users of the change. This technique was abused and is no longer recommended. Search engines have developed algorithms to detect the use of meta refresh and have penalized sites that use it as a way to trick search engines or users.

Use 301 Redirects

One of the most efficient solutions is the 301 redirect. This solution is available to most websites hosted on an Apache server. The 301 redirect is visitor, robot, spider, crawler, and search engine friendly. In most cases, a 301 redirect can be implemented by adding an instruction to the .htaccess file.

When a visitor requests a webpage, your web server checks for a .htaccess file. The .htaccess file is where you put your instructions for certain requests, such as when you want to force all visits to your site to use https instead of http, or when you need to redirect someone to another page if the URL they entered into their web browser is incorrect. The code 301 means that the page has been moved permanently. The web server notes this in its log files, and the URL of the missing or renamed page is noted, followed by a space, then followed by the new location or file name.

There are hosting providers who offer a 301 redirect service through their control panels. So you don’t have to modify the .htaccess file directly. Instead, they provide a user-friendly interface for this. Check with your hosting provider to see what the optimal way to do a 301 redirect is in your case.

Find the .htaccess file in the root directory where all your website files are located. If there is no .htaccess file, you can create one with Notepad or a similar text editor. Make sure you give the file the name ".htaccess". If a .htaccess file already exists with lines of code in it, do not modify any of the existing lines, unless you are familiar with the functions of the file. Just scroll down past all the existing code, leave a line space, then type in the following example:

"redirect 301 file_path/dir/page.ext https://domain.tld/folder/NEW-Page1.htm"

Do not add "http://..." in the first part of the statement, just add the file path of the page. Also, be sure to add a space between the file path and the redirect path.

redirect 301 (Instructs that a status code of 301 for the page should be redirected.)

file_path/dir/page.ext (The path and filename of the moved file)

https://domain.tld/folder/NEW-Page1.htm (Directs where the old file has moved.)

Save the file, and upload it back to your website. Type the old address into your browser, you should be automatically redirected to the new page.

Keep up with your 301 redirects. Make sure all your links point to the new page names. If your site is large or you have a lot of links, this will take a bit of extra effort, but it’s worth it. Implementing 301 redirects is the best way to preserve your rankings when moving files. It can take several months for the search engines to fully update their index with the filename. During the transition, you may see search engines switch between the old and new versions of the page, this is normal. As the search engine updates, the old page will eventually drop off.