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6/05/2015 – What are Redirects?

Posted by Jamison on 05 06 2015.

More commonly referred to as URL forwarding, redirection is a web hosting feature that allows a web developer to forward one domain to another. This drives website visitors and search engines to another domain from the one they are trying to access. The most common types are 301 and 302, but many are also using Meta Refresh.


The 301 Redirect (Moved Permanently)


301-redirectUsing the 301 redirect means permanently redirecting the primary URL to another domain. This passes on 100% of the primary URL’s ranking power to the page it is being redirected. To set up this type of redirect on CPanel, the new URL should be specified in the Location text box, and tagged with the 301 response. In most cases, this is the best way to implement redirects on a primary account.


The 302 Redirect (Found / Moved Temporarily)


Using the 302 redirect, meanwhile, means temporarily redirecting users from the primarily URL to another. Many web developers implement this code, but it is strongly advised to do this only on a short term basis as it impacts negatively on SEO value. While the 301 redirect instructs visitors to forget the value of the original domain, the 302 redirect retains the value of the original domain while giving value to a totally unique URL. This can potentially reduce optimization value since there will be two distinct domains producing the same content, and search engines treat them as 2 different websites rather than a single website with two domain names.


The 307 Redirect (Moved Temporarily)


In the newer version of HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP), which actually determines how URLs work on the Internet, the 307 Redirect comes as the successor to the 302 Redirect. Given that this is a relatively new response code, there are still instances when search engine crawlers treat it like the 302 Redirect. Like 302, this code is advisable to be used only on short durations as it also impacts on SEO value. The best time to do use it is when web content is really migrated temporarily such as during site maintenance, AND the server is confirmed to be HTTP 1.1 compatible.


Meta Refresh


Contrary to the other types, Meta Refresh is a redirect that is NOT implemented on the CPanel level, but on the page level. Essentially, what it does is instruct a web browser to refresh and reload the current web page after a set duration of time. It also allows the browser to fetch a totally distinct domain upon page refresh by including an alternate domain in the content parameter of the HTML meta element.  In recent years, the use of Meta Refresh has been discouraged as unexpected refreshes on web browsers can cause distraction among Internet users. It has also been reported that this Redirect makes the back button of older web browsers such as previous versions of Internet Explorer unusable.


However, Meta Refresh is a crucial element of web pages that are dynamic in nature. News sites are a good example, as they need to load fresh updates on a regular basis.