So you have decided on changing up your site’s structure, probably in the hopes that it will help you gain more visitors, SEO performance, lower your bounce rate, increase your revenue.
One, two, or more pages were removed, merged, had their URL changed. Whatever you did it was probably with the best intention in mind.
But for some reason, things didn’t go to plan.
Instead of gaining visitors, you lost them, a quite significant portion of them.
Not only are your traffic rates hurting, but so are your search result rankings.
Where did you go wrong?
One common thing that you might have overlooked is making the proper redirects. Every time the URL of a post/page changes, it has to be followed up by redirecting. Not just any type of redirecting, but proper redirects that will help your visitors get to the post/page they wanted to see.
You really don’t want your visitors or Google’s bots intended for checking your site to end up on a 404 page or one that wasn’t supposed to be there, otherwise you can say goodbye to your traffic and revenue.
What are redirects?
All this talk about the importance of redirecting might be a bit confusing for those of you not familiar with redirects. To make sure we all have an understanding of this subject matter, in this paragraph, we will now go over the basics of redirects.
As we all know, to land on a specific site or a page, we have to either manually type in its URL, find it through search results, or click on an internal or external link.
Whatever the case might be it all revolves around a URL. Every site, post, page has an URL. The URL is its address on the internet and is integrated into links that can be found in ads, social media posts, search results, and plenty of other places. Once a link containing a specific web address (URL) is clicked, it will lead directly to that address.
Now, what happens when that address changes?
All the links leading to that address, internal or external are now broken and are leading to something that is not there anymore. All those links need to be changed, otherwise all the traffic they were bringing will no longer be coming in.
The best-case scenario would be if you could just update all those links, but you can’t.
- First reason why you can’t is that depending on the number of them, it could take forever.
- The second reason, you probably don’t have the access or permission to change those links in all places they need to be changed. This is where redirects come in.
Every time a link containing an old URL is clicked, a properly set up redirect rule, will simply take the visitors to the new URL without them even knowing a redirection has occurred. In their eyes, everything is running smoothly but in fact, they might be going to a totally different URL than the last time they visited the site or page.
How redirects help you regain traffic?
Besides making sure your visitors end up at the right place, redirects also play a big role in your site’s SEO, which in turn plays a big role in getting organic traffic to your site.
Where does the correlation between redirects and SEO come in?
Well, Google cares a lot about the quality of the websites it puts highly on the search results, and with that lets them garner the majority of the traffic for a specific keyword search.
When a site has broken internal or external links leading to it or one of its parts, Google is fast to catch it and penalize for it by not allowing it to rank highly or at all. Setting up redirects is what will help your site not find itself in that type of situation.
Another way redirects help with regaining traffic is by transferring SEO “juice” from the old URL to the new one.
One thing you should know is that not all types of redirects can transfer SEO “juice” along with transferring traffic. But we will cover the different types of redirect, what they can do, and when to use them, in the next paragraph.
Proper redirecting also gives an indication to Google that the page/site/post with the new URL should be recrawled and indexed, enabling it to with time gain the same relevance the page/site/post that was under the old URL.
Though, this is also dependent on the type of redirect you put in place.
Types of redirects
As mentioned earlier, some redirects have the sole purpose of redirecting traffic, and then there are ones that will transfer both the traffic and SEO “juice” the former URL had. The first type is more intended for temporary changes, while the second one for permanent changes of URLs. The following types of redirects are the two most commonly used.
Seen as the standard redirect, since it probably the most used one. It is a permanent redirect, used when you are sure that the old URL won’t be used again.
So, in cases when a page is moved permanently, deleted, and other permanent situations. You have to be sure the old URL won’t be needed again because after being redirected all its traffic along with SEO “juice” will now be transferred to the new URL causing the old URL to lose any value and relevance.
Also, a 301 redirect will be a sign for Google that recrawling and indexing should be done on the page under the new URL.
This is one of the temporary redirects, used in situations like A/B testing, a site/page being under maintenance, temporary migrations, seasonal/temporary content, etc.
After you have set up a 302 redirect you should really make it temporary, because after 6 months of being in place, it will be seen as a permanent redirect but without any transfer of SEO “juice” and with the necessary recrawling and indexing not being done on time.
How to set up a redirect in WordPress?
Since redirects do so much for maintain your site’s traffic and SEO, you might be thinking that setting them up is a complicated process. But it is not, especially if you are doing it using a plugin. The one thing you do need to make sure is that the plugin you go for can be trusted to do the job right.
One plugin that is tested and trustworthy is WP 301 Redirects. With this plugin redirecting is an extremely easy and straightforward process.
The plugin section which is located in the WordPress admin dashboard will have two input fields, one for the old and one for the new URL. URL can be inserted in those fields manually or using a dropdown list that contains the existing pages on your site.
Once you have inserted the URLs, choose the type of redirect you want it to be, and whether the URL you are forwarding to is a post, page, media, or team archive. Click “Save”, and your redirect has been set up.
The WP 301 redirect will also enable you to set up multiple redirects at once by uploading them in a CSV file format.
A great feature of this plugin is that it will monitor every change in your URLs and as soon as it sees one, it will automatically set up a redirect rule for it. Other features include a built-in chart for insights about your redirects which will eliminate the need to use Google Analytics, bad bot protection, and of course fast and reliable support. To learn more about this plugin, its features, and pricing plans, visit https://wp301redirects.com/ where you will find all the necessary information.