What is a redirect?
A 'redirect' is when a website moves a web page from one location to another.
There are many different types of redirects, all of which have different status codes such as 302 and 307 (detailed in our guide to HTTP status code categories) but our focus throughout this article will be around 301 redirects.
A 301 redirect refers to a page that has been permanently moved, or redirected, to a different URL.
301 redirects are key to maintaining a website's domain authority and search rankings when the site's URL is changed for any reason. They will send a search engine or visitor to a different destination than the one they originally clicked or typed into their browser.
Why are redirects important?
Redirects are actually pretty straightforward, although it is imperative best practice is followed when they are implemented.
So if redirection is a straightforward process of forwarding one URL to a different URL, why are they so important?
You would usually redirect a page for the following reasons:
- The site/page is no longer active
- The URL is broken or doesn’t work
- You are fixing/amending a webpage and you want to temporarily make search engines and users detour for user experience
- You're undertaking a website migration
How to create a 301 redirect
There are a variety of ways to 301 redirect urls. Our preferred method of implementing a redirect - or a group of bulk redirects - on Shopify, is through the Easy Redirects App on the Shopify store. The app makes implementing 301 redirects easy and quick, whether you need to deal with 1 or 100,000 whilst it also allows you to manage 404 errors (which is when a page cannot be found). The end result? Your customers, and search engines, don’t land on dead links when visiting or crawling the site.
Easy Redirects take the stress out of what can sometimes seem like the stressful or lengthy task of managing URL redirects by giving you the option to carry out automatic and bulk redirects in a few simple and easy steps. There are three main objectives that easy redirects aims to solve:
- take the pain out of manual redirects
- a smooth transition with no loss of traffic or sales
- maintain site ranking.
How can Easy Redirects help you?
- Effortlessly migrate to Shopify from another platform
- Ensures you don't lose sales from customers landing on broken links
- Eliminates page errors which could damage your search engine ranking
- Quickly and easily import bulk URL redirects into Shopify from a CSV file
- Built in automatic 404 tracking
- Automated alerts update you with new errors and allow you to fix them quickly and easily
- Tracks and resolves 404 error pages, preventing a potential loss of reputation and sales from customers requesting old and outdated links
- One-click install (no code required)
How do redirects affect SEO?
Redirects can affect SEO (search engine optimisation) but in most cases if they are done correctly there should be no negative impact. Poor implementation of your redirects could cause you SEO problems; this includes points you want to avoid including loss of organic traffic or search engine rankings. Redirecting your URLs correctly is so important, especially for SEO, as you don’t want all the hard work you’ve spent on building links and a relevant audience to be lost.
Prior to 2016 there was much debate in the SEO community about whether redirecting one page to another through a 301 redirect would incur some loss of page rank. Although now, in 2020, Google's official position is that a redirect page should possess just as much power as the original, if implemented correctly.
Redirection for site migrations
During a site migration (if, for example, you're moving from Magento to Shopify) you ideally want all old pages to exist on the website. Removing a page during the migration process removes its ability to drive search engine traffic, although this is sometimes required if an old page holds no value or relevance. In addition to this culling, too many pages in a migration may lead to Google concluding that the new site isn’t the same as the old - which could cause a loss of traffic and rank as a migration needs to be a seamless transition for search engines.
Correctly mapping and redirecting your URLs is one of, if not THE, most important part of a site migration. A website migration that doesn’t redirect important pages correctly can have a huge impact on a site's ranking and revenue.
We've writen a complete guide to site migration - including a chapter covering the importance of redirects and what you need to do.
Avoiding redirect chains and loops
It is vital where possible during your migration to avoid redirect chains and redirect loops. Redirect chains are when you have URL 'A' redirecting to URL 'B' then decide to redirect URL 'B' to URL 'C'. It is is best practice to cut out the middle part of this process and go directly from URL 'A' to 'C'.
Redirect loops are when URL 'A' redirects elsewhere and then ultimately ends up back at URL 'A'. A great way to check for redirect loops is the redirect chains report on another tool which we use, called Screaming Frog.
Need help with your redirects?
We carry out site migrations every month, and if you need support ensuring your move across to Shopify goes smoothly, get in touch. If you need help with one-off, or day to day redirect maintenance, check out Easy Redirects. Happy redirecting!
We've also written the Ultimate Guide to SEO for Shopify, available on our blog and as a free download. Click the button below to read it!