Redirects, How They Affect SEO
Redirects are a way to send users and search engines to a different URL from the one they originally requested, but how do these benefit SEO?
In this blog post, we'll cover in detail how redirects affect SEO.
If you want a comprehensive overview of all website SEO factors, you can view our ultimate guide on SEO.
Often, while browsing, you might have come across a common code that reads “Error 404”.
This is known as an https response status code and indicates the response of the webserver to the URL that has been requested.
https response status codes instruct both search engine crawlers and the browser on how to handle the request.
https response status codes can also refer to redirects and interestingly, they can be utilised for better SEO.
What is a Redirect?
A redirect allows both users and search engines to be sent to different URL's from the original.
Redirects are used to indicate to the search engine crawler that specific content or URL has been moved to a new location.
How website Redirects affect SEO
Hidden Redirect Chains
A redirect chain is exactly what it sounds like: a series of redirects that go from one URL to another until the final URL is reached.
Quite often, redirect chains go unnoticed because we only see the end URL that we’re brought to in the browser.
From an SEO point of view, this has an effect on diluting link authority.
With every step in a redirect chain, about 10% of your authority is lost.
Another thing to note is how much this can affect your site’s speed and server response time having a single-step redirect will have an impact on your load time.
Forcing users and search engines to run through multiple redirects just to call one URL can create a poor user experience and cause issues with crawling.
Identifying And Redirecting Your Broken Links
If your site has gone through a few structure changes over the years, it likely has some authoritative links pointing to old URLs that return a 404 error.
Internal Links That Redirect
Think about it: After implementing a redirect, do you clean up all those occurrences of old URLs that were linked all across your site, or do you continue to allow them to 301 redirects?
If you don’t clean up your interlinked 301 redirects, you might want to start.
With mobile numbers growing and Google emphasizing site speed, users on mobile devices are expecting fast load times with every click.
If a user clicks an internal link that ends up redirecting, it adds to their load time and could result in a bounce.
Canonical Tags Pointing To Urls That Redirect
Sometimes canonical tags can be implemented manually or dynamically across certain content management systems that can cause issues for search engines.
You don’t want to have canonical tags that point to URLs that are redirecting or aren’t reflecting the exact URL that you want to be in Google’s index.
This will confuse search engine crawlers because this tag communicates with search engines which URL should rank for query results.
Cleaning Up Unnecessary Redirects
If your site has been around for some time, you'll likely have accumulated 301 redirects over the years.
Most of these 301 redirects provide authority that has built up over time and is necessary for keeping your traffic stable.
When referring to authority, in most cases we are talking about links and their strength on your site.
In Conclusion, you can see a lot of different redirect issues that are “under-the-hood”.
These can happen over time and could possibly be affecting your SEO efforts (without you even knowing).
The best way to combat these redirect issues is to set up a effective process for mapping redirects, retiring pages and cleaning up your site’s old URLs.