Redirects are a great option when you need to guide users to a particular page on your site. But implemented incorrectly, redirects can frustrate site visitors and confound Google’s crawlers, both of which are terrible for your rankings and your traffic.
Below, we bring to light six redirect mistakes to avoid –– as well as alternative options –– so you don’t lose traffic to your site.
Redirection to Your Homepage
Creating mass redirects to your home page raises red flags for Google’s crawlers. Google sees homepage redirects as a soft 404 and, according to John Mueller, often treats it as a standard 404 redirect.
These redirects lose the original page’s ranking signals and all the work you’ve put in to earn your SERP position. Additionally, Google can interpret homepage redirection as deceptive, largely because this type of redirect confuses and frustrates users.
Instead of redirecting pages to your site’s homepage, point users to an alternate page with relevant content that meets their needs.
Endless Redirect Loops
Redirects help users find the content they’re looking for. That is, unless you’ve accidentally created an endless loop of redirects. This is an incredibly frustrating experience for your site visitors. And in the end, they leave without the content they came for.
At the same time, redirect loops confuse crawlers. Bots usually remove pages caught in loops from search indexes. A removal like this results in lost traffic and, therefore, revenue loss.
Creating Mixed-Cased URLs
Google doesn’t care if you use uppercase or lowercase characters in your URLs. The important this is you remain consistent. That is, keep all your URL letters in the same case. Creating URLs using capital letters in addition to your other URLs creates duplicate content on your site.
Duplicate content negatively affects your rankings. When two URLs –– one with capital letters and one with all lowercase letters –– compete for rankings, you lose. Create SEO-friendly URLs using only lowercase letters and you avoid this problem. Additionally, URLs with lowercase letters typically look cleaner and more professional than those with mixed-case characters.
Using the Wrong Type of Redirect
The two most common redirects are 301 and 302 redirect. Knowing when to use each will increase your rankings and your traffic.
A 301 redirect is permanent. This designation lets search engines know to stop indexing the page while retaining its SEO value.
A 302 redirect, on the other hand, is just temporary. This is ideal when you’re redesigning your site or testing a new website design. A 302 prevents the temporary page from receiving link equity of the original page. Using a 302 when you should use a 301 can result in lost visibility, authority, and traffic to your page.
Knowing the difference between the two redirects as well as the appropriate time to use them preserves your page rankings and your site’s traffic.
Not Redirecting at All
In a perfect world, none of your content will move or disappear. But in this world, it happens often as you restructure or redesign your site.
Redirects send users to the new location for the content they’re searching for. But if you eliminate or move your content without a redirect, you create orphan pages. Users can’t find orphan pages through your site’s architecture, rendering them nearly useless. On top of that, Google can’t evaluate an orphan page or pass authority to or from other pages on your site.
Not redirecting to new locations leaves valuable content inaccessible, costing you traffic, leads, and sales.
Neglecting Redirect Metrics
Redirects can be great for your SEO, especially if you execute them correctly. But to make the most of your redirects, keep track of the metrics. This data allows you see the increase or decrease in your traffic that results from your redirects.
Staying informed of your redirect metrics helps you (and the rest of your SEO team) make decisions that benefit your site’s traffic and rankings.
Avoiding these six common redirect mistakes preserve your site’s authority, trustworthiness, and rankings while providing an enjoyable user experience. Create the right redirects for your site and you can move content or make changes without suffering a loss in traffic.