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What Are HTTP Redirections?

The web works on the HyperText Transfer Protocol or HTTP for short. That is why we use http:// in front of URLs.

Although the working of the web is pretty complex, we would like to give you a little context on how it works. When you open a web page in your browser, your browser sends a request to the server, which then responds with a status code. The code is a simple way of indicating the server (or the resource’s) status. Generally, a status 2XX (200 for example) means everything is OK, a 4XX status means that the server can’t find the resource, a 5XX denotes a server error, and a 3XX means a redirection.

So what is a redirection?

Redirection is a message from the server saying that what you’re looking for isn’t here anymore. That’s similar to the message “Your Princess is in another castle” in Mario.

How and When to Use Redirections

Broadly, there are 4 reasons why you’d need redirections.

  • Solve errors
  • Better user experience
  • Better SEO
  • Link Management

Let’s understand each of the scenarios one by one.

Solve Errors

The most common errors that you would solve with redirections are 404 errors. In our guides about 404 errors and how to resolve them, we’ve mentioned how you can use Rank Math’s 404 error to log errors on your website and redirect them to solve them.

Better User Experience

While solving 404 errors is also a way to improve user experience, we mention it separately as sometimes you need to use redirection to improve the user experience pro-actively.

For example, imagine that you have written a thorough guide on your website about a topic. After a year or so, you create another guide which is more up to date than the previous one. It would make sense to redirect the old guide to the new guide to take advantage of the search rankings of the first guide (which we discuss in the next point) and also to improve the user experience.

Better SEO

While 404 errors don’t affect your website search engine rankings, they are a wasted opportunity to improve your website’s SEO. Any time another website links to you with an incorrect URL, you don’t get any advantage of the link because of the error. Even if no user ever visited your website through the link, it makes sense to redirect the incorrect URL to the correct URL to get the SEO benefit.

If you’ve built an affiliate site, then you know the amount of effort it takes to manage links. To ease this process, you can create redirections instead. For example, a simple URL to an affiliate partner could be

http://ext.quad4.host.anothersite.com:4156/external/source/
blah.x?type=html&ref=xxxx-O#bb5334667888445&tracker-code=34343256778&utf-8=of_course

That link is neither friendly neither easy to manage. By creating a simple redirect from the URL www.yoursite.com/links/affpartner to the above URL, you can easily manage your affiliate links, and even update the tracking data in the future.

How Does Rank Math Help?

If you’ve read our other guides, then you’d know that Rank Math can help you with redirections. Specifically, it can help you set up redirections in advance if you know you’ll need it, or even do it if you have an error on your website. Our detailed guides on those topics will help you understand how to achieve that better.

Conclusion

That’s all you need to know about Redirections to use Rank Math’s Redirection Tool effectively. In our next tutorial, we are going to discuss how to use the Redirection tool to achieve all that we’ve discussed in this article.

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