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Fundamentals of Website Redirects

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You likely already know that redirects are important for moving users, crawlers and links from one page to another. However, it’s important to implement the correct redirect – as search engines need to figure out whether to keep a reference to the old page or forget it and replace it with the new page.

With decades of experience in digital marketing and website optimisation, Bliss Agency have a history of success in helping businesses grow online. Implementing and optimising redirects are just one of the many SEO strategies we utilise to improve our clients’ websites.

What are the Two Main Types of Page Redirects?

301 Redirect

The 301 (Moved Permanently) redirect code is used for permanent redirection, meaning that the old page will not be used again. 

Use this when changing a URL, merging or removing pages (if the content is similar), and adding or removing trailing slashes to URLs (to avoid duplicate content issues).

302 Redirect

The 302 (Moved Temporarily) redirect code is used for temporary redirection, meaning that search engines are told to keep an index (or copy) of a page as it will be used again once the redirect is removed. 

Use this for redirections to a temporary promotional page, A/B experiments, or other temporary changes.

Flowchart of which type of redirect to use, by SEMrush
Summary of 301 vs 302 Redirects by SEMrush [1]

What about Redirects at a Domain Level?

Redirects are important at a domain level too, to ensure that your traffic is going to the secure domain (https://…) and your preferred subdomain (https://www.yourwebsite or https://yourwebsite). By ensuring that all page variations have a 301 redirect to your secure, preferred subdomain, you can avoid duplicate content issues and wasted crawl budget*.

*Crawl budget is the number of pages that crawlers are willing to review and index in a given day.

Why Redirects are More Important for Larger Websites

If huge websites have thousands of new and old pages on their site, crawlers will prioritise crawling newer pages by scanning the sitemap.xml* and robots.txt**. Therefore, if a page is moved or removed, you want to signal this information to the crawlers as quickly as possible to preserve crawl budget, preserve page value & improve user experience.

*The sitemap.xml protocol allows us to inform search engines about URLs on the website that are available for crawling.

**The robots.txt is an exclusion protocol that specifies to crawlers about which areas of the website should not be processed or crawled.

How Do You Manage Redirects for Ecommerce?

If your product categories are constantly changing, if you’re adding or removing product lines, or if products can go out of stock – you want to ensure you have a procedure in place to maximise the value to users and search engines. By following the below steps, developed by Content King [2], you can improve your SEO and improve conversion rates!

Temporarily Discontinued – Out of Stock

  • Keep the page live (200 HTTPS status code)
  • Put ‘out of stock’ on the product image, not in the description (Google may return a soft-404 error)
  • Advise when stock will become available again
  • Remove ‘offer’ property from structured data markup

Permanently Discontinued – Minimal Page Value

The page is deemed as having minimal value if there are no external links (from other domains), minimal organic traffic and poor organic keyword rankings.

  • Return a 410 “gone” HTTP status code
  • Remove from sitemap.xml
  • Show alternative products on removed page

Permanently Discontinued – Valuable Page

A page is valuable if it has several external links, consistent organic traffic and ranks highly for important keywords. If this is the case, implement one of the following recommendations (in preferential order):

  1. Keep the page live as long as the value is there, but treat as temporarily discontinued by showing alternative products, removing it from the sitemap.xml, removing it from on-site searches, and apply a noindex HTML tag. 
  2. Reuse the URL for another highly related product, while explaining in the description that the original product got discontinued but this is the best alternative, and show more alternatives
  3. Implement a 301 redirect to another highly related product

Get More Expert Advice

Interested in getting more advice on how to optimise your website redirects? Talk to the SEO specialists at Bliss Agency today. We can review your website and discuss other optimisation strategies too!


[1] https://www.semrush.com/blog/redirects/

[2] https://www.contentkingapp.com/academy/discontinued-products/

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