People often overlook, ignore, or flat out don't know the importance of inputting proper redirects into their websites. True, for some websites, it can be quite a challenge keeping up with their expired pages if you're doing it manually, but there's a solution to that too. The point is that 404 pages, even if designed nicely, have to be dealt with as soon as possible if you want to keep your traffic steady and your visitors interested. This is also important when it comes to a website's SEO rank because good redirects can help a website rank higher. As a matter of fact, the difference is quite substantial. But let's dive deeper into the subject in order to more thoroughly explain the potential problems of not implementing redirects properly.
Updated: January 03, 2021
How do 404 pages hurt my website?
Before we get to the whole redirect thing, we have to ask why do 404 pages pose such a serious and often discussed problem. Well, there are two main reasons for that. The first one is connected to the user experience. If a visitor to your website comes and sees the 404 error popping out at them, the chances are that they will leave the website immediately. They may even think that the whole website is down, and at the very least, they will have doubts about its technical viability. Just put yourself in their shoes – if the page you want to see comes out as the 404 page, you will likely just use Google to find a new source that can provide you with what you were looking for.
The second reason concerns links that lead to a particular page on your website. Should that page somehow expire or become non-operational in some other way (although you really should try to avoid linking to pages that could suffer from that), you will lose any, and all benefits a link from another website can bring you if you do not have a redirect in place. This can hurt your backlink building strategy quite a bit in that way, so be careful. Less traffic and links leading to your website means that your SEO rank will plummet. However, there is a solution to all of this and a simple one at that.
How WP 301 Redirects Helps SEO
Redirecting can be easily solved if you have the right tool for the job, and WP 301 Redirects is the best you can find. This very simple to use plugin was designed precisely with redirecting from pages with 404 error in mind, all in order to help websites maintain their SEO rank. It is straightforward to set up, as all you need to do is download and install it properly, meaning you can have it operational in less than a minute.
The way it works is pretty straightforward – you choose the page with the 404 error, input its URL into the plugin's interface, and then simply input the URL of the page you want your visitors redirected to in a separate field. And that's all there is to it if you have a specific page you want to redirect from!
But there's more. Once operational, the plugin will monitor all URLs on your website and react automatically when one of them changes, instantly creating a redirect. Furthermore, WP 301 Redirects is quite smart and can distinguish between the traffic that is beneficial to your website and bad bots. The latter will not be redirected and will instead just get the 404 error page, which means the quality of your site's traffic will improve, something that can be of great significance for your SEO rank. Of course, the plugin knows that Google is supposed to be redirected, so you don't have to worry about any problems on that front, either.
Excellent technical features of WP 301 Redirects
From a technical perspective, WP 301 Redirects works flawlessly. It is perfectly safe and never interrupts or slows down the functioning of your website. The guys at WebFactory Ltd have really done a splendid job with this product, and they are willing to stick by you every step of the way because the support they provide is excellent – every question you ask will receive a quick and detailed answer.
The plugin is available in three different packages: Personal, Team, and Agency. However, do not think that you somehow get a lesser product if you opt for a lower tier. No, the only difference is in the number of websites you will be able to use the plugin on; everything else will be exactly the same. If none of the packages suit you, though, you can simply contact the company and ask that they create one solely for you. And they will! Talk about excellent service, eh?
Of course, since there are tiers, we have to talk about prices, too. This is a premium product, after all. Well, you pay via annual subscription for this, and at the moment it stands at 39$, 79$ and 149$, respectively. The number of sites that can be covered this way is one, five, and 100 (respectively, of course), so the Agency tier will provide special value, although the other ones also seem pretty fair. Remember that you can also get a custom package made for you and the price will reflect that, so keep that in mind.
Keep an eye on things, Redirects can cause problems, too!
But newly created redirects can cause problems, too. Non-functioning URLs may not be easy to spot, especially if you have a lot of them or if you have conducted a complete website redesign recently. One letter may be wrong or some other minute detail like that can be out of line, and your page will not work. That's why it's essential to monitor the situation and check everything in great detail or at least have a plugin like the aforementioned WP 301 Redirects in place to do the monitoring for you. Timing is crucial in fixing a non-functioning redirect because if you don't spot the problem in a few weeks, the consequences for that page's SEO rank will be severe. On the other hand, if you catch the problem within a few days, you should be able to avoid any significant damage.
So, stay vigilant and use all tools at your disposal to regularly check traffic and the SEO status of your pages. If a URL that was performing well prior to the implementation of redirects starts gets off to a less than satisfying start, check the redirect again. You don't want Google to eliminate a successful page of yours from its index.
When it comes to checking traffic, WP 301 Redirects can help you with that too because it comes with a very nice set of charts, which will clearly illustrate the status of your traffic. It's all effortless to follow thanks to some straightforward graphical solutions, so from one glance at the charts, you will be able to learn everything you need to know.
Before we wrap things up here, just one concrete example of how redirects can play an essential role in your SEO rank, suppose you have an HTTP website and you're switching to HTTPS. Redirects can help you bring in traffic from the old site to the new without any problems – in other words, even if someone types in the HTTP version of your website's address, they will immediately be rerouted to the new one. This can have a significant impact on your SEO because Google has made it clear on several occasions that it prefers HTTPS website because they are much safer for the user, so switching to them should give you a boost. Moreover, Google will go out of its way to inform the user that an HTTP website is not as safe, significantly impacting how that person views your website.
301 Redirects Conclusion
In conclusion, redirects can be essential for your website for several reasons: they prevent bad user experience, they help you retain your visitors if you're redesigning or migrating your website and they can be beneficial for your SEO ranking. While all of this can be quite a challenge to keep under control on your own, there are plugins you can use to make your life a lot easier, and WP 301 Redirects is the best one among them. It is easy to set up and use, very smart and has a load of helpful features. Not to mention the flexibility and service of the company behind it.
Do keep in mind, however, that redirects themselves can work incorrectly, so be thorough when implementing them and monitor them for their performance. Once an error occurs, you will have a limited time window to solve the problem before Google starts punishing your SEO and eliminating the page from its index. That's why it pays to have a plugin to do the work automatically. Redirects, migrations, and redesigns are all activities that need to be approached seriously, meticulously and with the right tools if you want to avoid the negative consequences. Good luck!
Author – Marko Domljanovic.