Ever find yourself at a dead end online? The 404 error page is the last thing you want your visitors to find when browsing your website because it makes them back out and generally ends with them leaving your website completely. Now imagine if those people were eager leads, ready to buy.
There are a few different reasons why you’d hit a dead end:
- The page no longer exists
- The link structure has been modified
- A user misspelled the link after manually entering
- The entire website has moved to a new domain
It’s important that people find the correct page to get their information but there are also two other elements worthy of mentioning: search engine optimization and affiliate marketing.
Broken pages, link structure redesign, or a complete website move should implement redirects to pass on the SEO value to the update page or website. The best redirect, in terms of SEO, is a 301 redirect which tells search engines that the new page is the permanent destination and to give this page all of the SEO benefits from the previous.
In affiliate marketing, the use of redirects is very important for link tracking and flexibility. Using a redirect that points at an affiliate offer gives you the ability to track your web traffic accurately all-th-while giving yourself the ability to update the link without needing to manually change the entire link structure, destination page, and page structure.
In eCommerce, link redirects play a handy role for pointing individuals to newer versions of a product. Redirects also prevent a visitor from landing on the 404 page which will decrease conversions when they flee from the website.
The How To
There are good and bad forms of web address redirects; each providing different pros and cons.
- 301 – There are actually multiple ways to do this type of redirect (the .htaccess being far more confusing). The easiest is to include a PHP header; you can find a detailed list of 301 redirect guides here.
- .htaccess – Only do this type of redirection if you’re skilled. A small error in your htaccess file can bring down the entire website. If you choose to do it this way, there is a htaccess redirect generator or read this guide by MediaTemple.
- CMS Plugin – Users of WordPress can install the popular Redirection plugin which handles all forms of redirects without needing a lot of technical knowledge.
Stick with these because they’ll give you the best options without penalty.
- 302 – The 302 redirect is meant to be temporary and doesn’t pass on the “SEO juice”. You’re better off just doing a 301 if you don’t plan to update the link at a later time anyway.
Don’t bother with these. Keep it simple and viable for SEO.
That wraps up this topic. Redirects can be extremely valuable as your website grows. Utilize them correctly and you won’t see a drop in conversions.
Done a few redirects in your time? Share your experiences with a comment below.