When you hear the word redirect or redirection many people automatically assume that this is a bad thing and setting up redirects can negatively affect SEO. This is a common misconception we will debunk today.
A URL redirect is a technique that is used to redirect your domain’s visitors to a different URL. There are many different types of redirect. Today we will be discussing the most common redirect, a 301 redirect. A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect and is the most common practice.
Best Practice for Setting up a 301 Redirect
WordPress offers a redirection plugin that makes setting up redirects seamless (if you know how to set it up correctly).
If your not a technical coder then this is the way to set it up. Even as a developer using this plugin is helpful especially if clients want to know how to make these updates or foresee making changes in the future and want access from the WordPress admin dashboard.
I will walk you through a scenario and the steps you should take to set up your 301 redirects from the redirection plugin.
In this scenario, I’m rolling out a new design for my blog page and want to keep the existing URL for SEO. So the steps needed are to first rename the old page to https://busybee.marketing/blog-old (you can choose any name here, you just need to remember it). Then go to the new design page and change the URL to https://busybee.marketing/blog (this is the existing URL that has been on the site and you would like to keep).
Go to tools, and click on redirection. Next, click on Add new redirect.
Then fill out the source URL and target URL.
The source URL in this example is /blog. Keep the query parameters as is: “Exact match all parameters in any order.” The Target URL is the entire URL which would be https://busybee.marketing/blog.
Redirect Pro Tip: Make sure you select Ignore Slash to account for URLs on the site that don’t use the backslash and still need to be redirected.
Redirects and the Menu: What You Need to Know
If the page you are redirecting is part of your main navigation menu, you will need to adjust the menu. Usually when creating the navigation menu pages are brought in by internal page ID versus a custom link.
The downside of this is when a redirect is set up, you will have to manually replace the page. It sounds more confusing than it is, but it is important to know that just because you redirect it doesn’t mean it will change on the menu item – unless you manually make that change.
Now if your site was originally built with only custom links for the menu then you can skip this step.
Frequently Asked Questions
Answer: The most common causes for redirects not functioning is the source URL is incorrect or the ignore slash isn’t checked off. Start troubleshooting there first and 9 times out of 10 that is the issue.
Answer: Redirects are not bad for SEO, but as with so many things — only if you put them in place correctly. A bad implementation might cause all kinds of trouble, from loss of PageRank to loss of traffic. Redirecting pages is a must if you make any changes to your URLs.
Answer: The simplest way to add and manage redirects in WordPress is by using the Redirection plugin. Install and activate the plugin. Once activated, visit Tools » Redirection to setup your redirects. Redirection plugin not only allows you to setup redirects, it also helps you find out 404 errors on your WordPress site.
SEO and Redirects
All redirects negatively impacting page ranks are a thing of the past. Yes, it was an issue in previous years. But as of 2019, if your implementation is correct and you redirect domain.com/page1 to domain.com/page2, the redirected page should have just as much “power” as the original page. This a huge deal! It’s part of the reason 301 redirects can be so useful for boosting organic traffic.
To sum it up it’s important when setting up a redirect to do it the right way or consult with a developer. If done incorrectly it can have serious ramifications for SEO and it will take some time to climb back up in the rankings.
- Make sure you type in the correct source URL and Target URL
- Check off Ignore Slash
- Make sure to check your Menu and replace the old page with new page if the page is part of the menu item
- It’s always good to clear out cache before testing
- Test out links and menu on an incognito browser to make sure everything is working
And that’s all folks! I hope this blog gives you a better understanding of the redirection tool and helps in setting up your redirect the right way.