From 404 to Success: How to Use Redirects to Improve Your SEO
As a website owner or business, you invest hours in crafting your content to attract visitors to your site. But what happens when your website visitors run into a “404 page not found” error? This can be frustrating for both you and the user. If this happens too many times, it could damage the reputation of your website, causing a loss of potential visitors and revenue.
Fortunately, there’s a solution to this problem. It’s called a redirect. A redirect is a technique that sends a user from a non-functional or non-existent web page to a functional page or location. And not only does it help your website visitors out, but it can also improve your website’s SEO (search engine optimization) ranking.
Let’s dive into how you can use redirects to improve your SEO:
1. Minimize 404 Pages
Google values websites that offer a great user experience. Therefore, having a bunch of 404 pages is not beneficial to your SEO ranking. Too many 404 pages can indicate that your website is outdated or not well-maintained.
To minimize 404 pages, regularly monitor your website for broken links or pages that are no longer useful. Once you find them, either delete them or redirect them to a relevant page. Doing so ensures that your website visitors avoid the annoyance of clicking on a non-existent page.
2. Use 301 Redirects
A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect, which passes almost all of the link equity from the old URL to the new redirect URL. 301 redirects are useful when you need to change the URL of a page or when you delete a page and want to redirect the traffic to a new page.
Additionally, 301 redirects can also prevent search engines from indexing duplicate content. So, when you’ve unintentionally published duplicate content, use a 301 redirect to consolidate the duplicate content to a single URL.
3. Use 302 Redirects
A 302 redirect is a temporary redirect, which tells search engines that the page has moved temporarily. 302 redirects are useful when you have to briefly take down a website or a specific page. It will tell Google to come back later and re-crawl the page once it’s up again.
4. Keep Redirect Chains to a Minimum
Redirect chains happen when a user tries to access a page, but that page redirects them to another page, which redirects them again to yet another page. Redirect chains make it difficult for search engines to understand the page’s relevance and ultimately impact your SEO ranking negatively.
To keep redirect chains to a minimum, you should:
– Always check internal links when uploading a new page to the website
– Update or remove any outdated links
– Use a 301 redirect instead of a string of 302 redirects
5. Use Canonical Tags
A canonical tag is added to the head section of a webpage’s HTML. It tells search engines which of the multiple URLs with similar content are the preferred URL for indexing purposes.
Canonical tags are useful to avoid duplicate content penalties from search engines. When you have multiple versions of the same content across your website, it’s essential to use a canonical tag to ensure search engines understand which one to index.
Redirects impact your website visitors’ experience and can significantly improve your SEO ranking. Implementing redirects on your website can help you maintain consistency with your website visitors and search engines.
So, take some time to evaluate the redirection options available to you and implement them carefully. Doing it right may take some extra effort, but it is definitely worth it in the long run with more satisfied website visitors and improved ranking in search engine results.