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How Redirecting URLs Can Impact SEO

An updated document from Google explains how redirecting URLs can impact a site’s appearance in search rankings.

How Redirecting URLs Can Impact SEO

Google has published an updated document which goes over six different types of URL redirects and their effects on search results.

Google’s Gary Illyes and Lizzi Harvey worked together to add eight pages of content to an existing help page on 301 redirects.

At only five paragraphs in length, the previous version of Google’s help guide was scant on details.

So Google did what it’s always telling site owners to do, which is update the old content to provide a more complete solution to searcher’s queries.

Now the guide has information on each type of redirect, examples of what they look like, and details on they impact Google Search.

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Here’s a summary of the newly added information.

Types of Redirects & Impact on Google Search

The difference between redirects is undetectable to visitors, but Google treats them differently in terms of the strength of signals sent to the target URL.

Redirects fall into one of two categories — temporary or permanent.

Google uses a permanent redirect as a strong signal that the target URL should be the one shown in search results.

Conversely, Google uses a temporary redirect as a weak signal that the redirect target should be the URL shown in search results.

Complete details on the following six types of redirects were added to Google’s help page:

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  • Permanent server side redirects: The best way to change the URL shown for a page in search results. Google recommends using this type whenever possible. The 301 and 308 status codes mean that a page has permanently moved to a new location.
  • Temporary server side redirects: Temporarily sends visitors to a new page while ensuring Google keeps the old URL in its results for a longer time.
  • Instant meta refresh redirect: Google Search interprets instant meta refresh redirects as permanent redirects.
  • Delayed meta refresh redirect: Google Search interprets delayed meta refresh redirects as temporary redirects.
  • JavaScript location redirects: Google Search interprets and executes JavaScript using the Web Rendering Service once crawling of the URL has completed.
  • Crypto redirects: This involves adding a link pointing to a new page accompanied by a short explanation. This helps users find your new page and Google may understand this as a crypto redirect.

Additional Notes

There’s a lot to go through in Google’s new guide. Here are some final points about redirects based on the company’s recommendations.

Choosing a redirect depends on how long you expect the redirect will be in place and what page you want Google Search to show in search results.

If there’s any chance you’ll want a particular URL shown in search results again, then don’t permanently redirect it to another one.

Always go for server side redirects whenever possible. Use JavaScript redirects only if you can’t do server side or meta refresh redirects.

Don’t rely on crypto redirects for letting search engines know that your content has moved unless you have no other choice.

For more, see Google’s full document.

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Matt Southern

Lead News Writer at Search Engine Journal

Matt Southern has been the lead news writer at Search Engine Journal since 2013. With a degree in communications, Matt ... [Read full bio]

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