Redirects can be a little complicated in the way they work. On the one hand, they direct your website visitors to the right pages. The process of directing them, on the other hand, causes your pages to load slower than they should.
Given that people abandon websites that take longer than 2-3 seconds to load, having too many redirects is a serious issue. Especially if you’re a small business owner who’s already having trouble getting visitors to your website.
The advantage of redirects is that they are simple to detect. We’ll give you a quick overview of the topic so you know precisely what you’re up against.
WHAT ARE REDIRECTS?
When you move or delete something from your website, you want your visitors to arrive at the new location rather than the old one. A redirect is a tool that takes your website visitors to a new location automatically.
EXAMPLE OF A REDIRECT
Although there are several distinct sorts of redirects, the following is an example of a typical scenario:
- A user types “xyz.com” in their browser’s address bar to open your website.
- However, you secured your website with an SSL certificate, so it now redirects to “https://xyz.com.”
- If your user has been patiently waiting, they will eventually arrive at your website.
That is not at all very user-friendly. To make matters worse, the delay is also bad for SEO.
WHEN IT’S OKAY TO USE REDIRECTS
Redirects are appearing to be annoying so far (and they are). However, there are some convincing reasons to use redirects in the first place.
- It automatically changes “xyz.com” to “www.xyz.com” if that’s the default URL.
- When you publish new content, redirect visitors and resources to an updated page.
- While you working on the current page, it redirects your visitors to a temporary page.
- If you use WordPress, it redirects old URLs to a new permalink structure.
All of these points are valid, and redirecting from an outdated page to an updated one is regarded as a smart SEO practice. However, some redirection may be prevented or at the very least minimised so that your user needs to jump through fewer hoops to get to what they want.
WHY DO REDIRECTS REDUCE WEBSITE SPEED?
Which is faster when planning a flight to a pleasant destination: a direct flight or a flight with several connections?
The issue with redirects is that your visitors must make one or more connections before arriving at the new location. Whether there are multiple connections or simply one, your page will take longer to load. And, as you may be aware, Google considers your website’s loading time when ranking it. (The evil SEO strikes once more.)
Furthermore, visitors on mobile have a longer delay because they are usually on a limited data plan or using free Wi-Fi in a public location. You don’t want your website to be included in the slow-loading blacklist, especially with the number of mobile phone users increasing exponentially.
While there are many things you can do to help your website load faster, you won’t be able to get it to its maximum speed unless you reduce or eliminate all of your redirects.
301 AND 302 REDIRECTS
Before we go into the tools, you must understand the two most prevalent sorts of redirects: 301 and 302.
301 redirects are irreversible. These are used when a page has been relocated or destroyed permanently and you don’t want people to see a nice ERROR 404 on the old page. Only the new page will be displayed in search engines.
The 302 redirections are short-lived. These are used when you only want to redirect traffic to another page for a short period. For search engines, this is a little confusing, and they may wind up displaying both the old and new pages in search results.
HOW TO CHECK FOR REDIRECTS ON YOUR WEBSITE
Now that that’s out of the way, you’ll be relieved to learn that there are a variety of tools available to scan your website and provide you with a comprehensive report on all the redirects currently active. The best part is that these resources are available free of cost. The most popular redirect checkers are listed below.
Google PageSpeed: You can always rely on Google to point out where you’re making a mistake. By using this tool to analyse your page speed as well as which redirects are lowering your score, you can kill two birds with one stone.
Redirect Mapper Tool: This free tool measures the number of redirects your main website URL sends users through. Is it necessary to include the www and then the https? Is it going to https or is it going to http? It will notify you if you have more than one redirect.
Broken Requests Tool: Another free application that will show you all of your 301 and 302 redirects. Then it’s just a matter of reviewing each one and deciding whether or not they’re worth a longer loading time.
Redirect Detective: This isn’t the nicest of them all, but it’s certainly the most functional (and free). If you’re not sure where a URL redirects, you may paste it into the tool and it’ll tell you everything you need to know.
Screaming Frog Bulk Redirect Checker: Do you require something that has a little extra of everything? This is a downloadable programme that allows you to upload up to 500 URLs (with the free plan) and see all of the redirects you have and where they head. All you have to do now is delete the ones you don’t need after you’ve found the bad redirects. You can accomplish this through your hosting provider’s control panel, WordPress plugins, or searching through your htaccess file.
TIPS FOR REDUCING REDIRECTS
For a genuinely optimised website, there are a few things you can do to minimise your redirects to a minimum.
- Never link to a page you know contains a redirect. It will just result in back to back redirects and an irritated visitor.
- Plugins might cause unwanted redirects, so be sure you’re not using any that you don’t need.
- Closely monitor your website regularly for old redirects that point to pages you’ve discontinued. After transferring hosting providers or making significant content changes to your website, this is a smart practice to follow.
- If you’re using WordPress, the Redirection plugin can help you keep track of new redirection, 404 errors, and other loose ends.
NEED HELP CLEANING UP YOUR REDIRECTS?
Maintaining a clean and orderly website while running a business is a daunting task. Although it is not impossible to completely avoid redirect chains from backlinks and other sources, the longer these chains develop, the worse SEO becomes. To minimize redirect risks, you can employ powerful redirect tools to discover long-tail chains, split them down into smaller pieces where possible, and establish URL management frameworks.