Are there any pages in your website that are outdated but you have no time or way to modify them? Or a link that is misspelt or is incomplete? The simplest way here is to create a redirect to direct the visitors to that page to its updated existing version instead of forcing them to leave the website altogether. A redirect can create a big impact to your website, either by improving its ranking considerably or hurting it badly. It depends on which redirect you use and how you use it. Before going to the different types of redirects let us start from what exactly is a redirect.
What is a redirect?
A redirect is a way to lead the web traffic to a page of your choice when they reach a page that you no longer wish them to visit. There could be different reasons why you don’t want the page to be visited:
The page might have got expired and the search engines still continue to index it.
The page might have been updated.
You have different domain names and want them to be directed to a main URL.
You want to change your domain name.
You want to merge your two websites.
Different kinds of redirects
There are different redirects that a webmaster can apply; Meta Refresh,302 & 301 redirect
Even though there are different kinds of redirects, the one that the search engines love and is loved back by both the search engines and the users is 301. Before we go into the question of why lets see how meta refresh and 302 is NOT search engine friendly.
Meta refresh is very common. While trying to reach a page you might find a message that “this site has been moved to http://newurl/ ” and that “you will be there is 5 seconds” and then will be taken to that site, it is meta refresh that’s working there. Sounds very convenient, isn’t it? It is in fact quiet fast and simple to implement. Are you waiting for the catch? Well, you are right. There is. The users who had already bookmarked your site will have to manually update those bookmarks or will have to wait for an extra 5 seconds before they reach the intended page. Besides, your old page will still be there and you will have just one link on the redirect page to get the link you wanted. Not all the search engines support this feature. Hence it can end up in low rankings for your website.
In the case of 302 redirect, the status indicates that the page is temporarily removed. Then the search engine crawler would request for the new URL that the web server would return it along with the 200 HTTP status indicating that the new page was found. Since the search engines consider the 302 redirect as only temporary, it will not credit the new URL the inbound links that point to the old one. Hence, from the SEO point of view, 302 redirects are not only not helpful but also bring down the number of inbound links.
Search engine friendly redirect: 301
301 redirect can be considered as perhaps the only search engine friendly redirect. Here, when the search engine crawler is given a 301 redirect while requesting for an old web page, the web server will provide a 301 HTTP status along with the new URL in the field of the HTTP header. This status code will tell the crawler that the page has been permanently moved and can be now found only in the new URL. Upon the crawler requesting for the new URL the server would provide the HTML for the new web page along with the 200 status code that tells that the new web page has been found.
Since the 301 redirect indicates that the old web page has been permanently moved to the new URL, search engines would now credit the inbound links of the old URL to the new one. Thus the website would retain its inbound links, thereby keep its existing ranking. Hence, from the SEO perspective, 301 redirect is highly useful.
A sound knowledge of the redirects can take you a long way by helping you to select the right redirect for the right situation and thereby retain your page ranks.