The 6 Most Common Redirect Mistakes That are Hurting Your Traffic and SEO

Grace Lau

It’s annoying when you click on a link only to discover that you can’t find what you want.

Redirects are confusing: 301, 302, 307, 308, HTTP Header, JavaScript, and Meta Refresh. Also, there are two types of redirects: permanent and temporary. Also, some redirects are more efficient than others.

Perhaps the page is returning a 404 error, informing you that it can’t be found or is no longer available. It's possible that the website loads to something completely different than you expected. Alternatively, the page may take too long to load, or it may time out and not load at all.

Whatever the name of the redirect, it prevents you from discovering what you are looking for. Moreover, you’re frequently left with an unfavorable image of the website you attempted to access.

However, redirects can also be beneficial. When used appropriately, they can assist website visitors to discover what they need - even if they came to your site via a URL that has changed or no longer exists. Although, it’s critical that they’re applied and used correctly. 

What are the benefits of redirects? 

Essentially, a redirect is a way to forward one URL to another. For example, a company that sells cars will have multiple pages:

  • example.com/cars
  • example.com/cars/tesla
  • example.com/cars/toyota
  • example.com/cars/ford

If you’ve sold out of Teslas, you might redirect your Tesla visitors to your main car page. This helps keep the site organized. There will be fewer clicks to land on a page, and you can focus all your optimization efforts on one page instead of many.

Use redirects wisely and they can help grow businesses, but make mistakes and they can hurt you. Here are the six most common redirect mistakes to avoid.

1. Only redirecting to the home page

If you're trying to rank for keywords by redirecting every page to your homepage, you could be doing more harm than good for your business. Everything being redirected to the homepage is a bad idea since all of the signals connected with the old content become lost. This can negatively affect your content strategy.

For search crawlers, it’s also a negative indicator because all of the positive work you did building on the old URLs will be lost to Google. The value of the content creation you have been working on - maybe for years - can easily vanish.

2. Using the wrong type of redirect

A redirect is a great way to transfer traffic from a defunct URL to a new one. And there are several different sorts of redirects to choose from. It’s critical to choose the appropriate one, especially if you want to achieve the most search engine optimization (SEO) value you can. Resolving issues with your website will mean that your business does not have to deal with a first call resolution.

301 and 302 Redirects

301 and 302 redirects are the two most prevalent types of redirection. A 301 indicates that the page has been permanently transferred to the new URL. 

A 301 redirects authority from the old URL to the new URL. When upgrading URL structure, constructing a new site. Properly implementing 301 redirects guarantees that the authority, traffic, and visibility of your previous sites have made the transfers to the new URLs. A 302 indicates that the page has been temporarily moved and will be returned soon.

A 302 redirect does not pass the same authority as a 301 redirect, so employing it instead of a 301 can result in lost visibility, authority, and traffic.

404 Not Found

A 404 is a page that can’t be found. That URL no longer exists from the perspective of the server and search engine - they were unable to locate it. 

A 410 code is similar in that the URL no longer exists, but it also informs search engines that the URL has been permanently erased and will never reappear.

In general, you should strive to avoid having too many 400 errors on your site because they can substantially impede lead generation. This will negatively impact your: 

3. Not redirecting

Another typical redirect blunder is failing to redirect at all. In some circumstances, a redirect isn’t the best option; instead, deleting the page and permitting the URL 404 is the smartest choice. However, this should be considered based on the situation - the goal is to always improve your business’s lead generation process.

Going through your site and eliminating old pages or altering URLs without using redirects might cause a lot of problems. The same is true for creating and launching a new website, as well as switching from HTTP to HTTPS. If you are changing or removing URLs, you need to be thinking about redirects.

You should also consider redirects in general for your URL structure. A popular question to ask yourself and your teams is whether or not your URLs will begin with www. Search engines will treat your www and non-www pages as separate and duplicate material if you don’t use suitable redirects.

4. Redirect chains or redirect loops

Redirect chains and redirect loops are two common redirect mistakes that can make navigating your website a challenge, damage your SEO efforts, and, in turn, affect your customer lifetime value.

Redirect Chains

When more than one redirect is required to reach the ultimate page, a top SEO practice is to form a redirect chain. There should ideally be only one redirect in place, creating the shortest path to the desired material.

However, if you make many redirects over time, you may find yourself in a situation where you need to use multiple redirects to get to the desired content.

This happens a lot with older sites, as they are more likely to have undergone multiple redesigns or restructures. Internal links and canonical tags are other prominent examples, as users frequently forget to update them when a URL changes.

With your redirects, the idea is to build the quickest path possible. This is significant because each redirect slows down your website’s speed while also diluting the value passed along to the new URL.

If you are not careful, you could end up with so many redirects in a chain that the website will never load.

Redirect loops

A website crawler will come to a halt if it hits a redirect loop. It’s likely that your redirects will generate a giant loop when working with large groups. Because there is no way out, many browsers have learned to recognize the loop.

Let’s say you have a cloud based phone system company offering Grasshopper alternatives - a redirect loop may not be so damaging on your “about” page, but imagine the same problem on your home page:

  • Sales will drop
  • Revenue will drop
  • Potential customers could buy from a competitor instead

Testing each redirect is a simple and quick way to eliminate redirect loops. Keep track of all redirections internally so that anyone looking to apply SEO to your site can view the current redirect structure. You can also use crawling tools to detect these reroute loops.

5. Forgetting about case sensitivity 

When writing redirect rules, case sensitivity is important.

URLs are case-sensitive - pick any case you want, but pick a case. For example, for a video conferencing technologies page, you could us

  • “/about/video-conferencing-technologies”, or 
  • “/About/Video-Conferencing-Technologies”

When someone types your URL into a browser, though, they are unlikely to recall which case you used. The majority of users will type the URL in lowercase.

There are a variety of ways to generate a redirect. However, most people utilize Apache’s .htaccess file. When using RewriteRule, employ the “NC” argument if you want to minimize issues related to case sensitivity.

6. Not keeping track of your redirects

You should build protocols to track changes to your site if:

  • You have an enterprise site with hundreds or even thousands of pages, or 
  • You operate with a lot of SEO consultants

Keeping track of redirects is essential as you'll need reference points to keep track of changes so you can look through your analytics and figure out which adjustments caused traffic to rise or decline. It's critical to keep track of redirection because it can happen at both page and server level.

If you open your .htaccess file and don’t notice a redirect for a specific page, you might presume one isn't in place. A redirect loop could have been caused by someone on your team using JavaScript or a meta refresh on the page.

Tracking your redirects will assist present and future SEO audit specialists in avoiding common redirect errors that can negatively affect your site’s traffic and profitability. You should also establish standards that require all new redirects to be tested and verified to verify that they function correctly.

Conclusion

Redirects allow webmasters to forward one URL to another while maintaining the majority of the value of the original URL. You can use redirects when changing URL structures to make them more user-friendly, or when deleting specific pages from your website.

When used correctly, the page will preserve the majority of its link equity, ranging from 85% to 99% percent, allowing it to maintain its search engine ranks.

It’s critical to test your redirects to ensure that they're all functioning. If you use redirects as part of your SEO strategy, you should double-check that they're working properly. 

Grace Lau

Grace Lau is the Director of Growth Content at Dialpad, an AI-powered cloud communication and computer telephony integration platform for better and easier team collaboration.


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