How to redirect a URL

How to Redirect an old URL to a new one

Have you ever seen the need to redirect an old URL to a new one or an entire domain to a new one? This is the knowledge we want to share in this content. But before I go ahead, let me share my personal experience with you.

When I started infoducation, my domain name was www.infoducation.com.ng, but as time went on and the need for growth came calling, I saw the limitation that would be caused by the .com.ng extension. As such, I decided to go for www.infoducation.com.

At that time, I never knew what redirection was all about. I had to copy my contents from infoducation.com.ng one by one and posted to infoducation.com. It was actually a very stupid move. It was after doing that and losing the .com.ng domain that I first heard of redirecting. By then it was too late. The most unfortunate part of it was that some of my contents on the old website were already ranking on Google’s first page. One of such posts were even on the number one spot on Google. But that was how I lost that privilege because of ignorance.

I would not want you to suffer the fate of the ignorance I passed through. This is why this post is coming to you at this time.

What is Redirecting?

As the name implies, redirecting simply means changing the direction of something. It was supposed to go in a particular direction, but for some reasons, you decided to change the direction along the way. In your website, redirection simply means changing the URL of a content to point to another direction. Or, it could also be done to change the entire domain to point to another domain. If I had succeeded in redirecting www.infoducation.com.ng to www.infoducation.com, all my contents will be redirected from the former to the latter.

Although you may see the URL of the content having the .com.ng extension, but when you get to the destination address, you will see that the.ng part of it has disappeared. This is typically how the redirection works. It allows you to forward your domain visitors to any URL of your choice (to a new domain or a different website). If everything is configured properly, it takes about 30 minutes to start working.

The most common form of redirect is redirecting from an http:// URL on your domain to a separate website with https://. The s in the new link makes it totally different from the previous one and it points to the fact that the latter is safer than the former. Most website owners has executed this kind of redirect on their website at one point or the other. This is because at the point of creating a website, the URL may just be left as http, but in the process of time, the need to upgrade to https arises.

Reasons why you may need to redirect your URL or domain.

We do things based of several reasons. There are several reasons why website owners may decide to redirect their URL or entire domain to a new one. Some of the reasons include, but not limited to the following;

#1 To change to a new domain entirely

One of the first reason why you may need to redirect your contents is when you want to change to a new domain entirely. For example, the domain www.worldscholarshipforum.com was redirected to www.kiiky.com. As such, you may see lots of contents on Google with the worldschorshipforum link, but when you click on it, it takes you to kiiky. When this is done, you would not lose any of the contents on your website, neither will you lose any of the visitors that were supposed to come to your website.

There are some contents you may want to read and when you click on the link, it gives you any of these two feedback messages, “page not found” or “the content has been moved”. These 2 feedback messages comes when the location of a content was changed without redirecting the URL or when the content is entirely deleted. It could also happen when the domain has been lost. As a result of that, it becomes very necessary to always redirect your website.

#2 To change the location of a post

The second reason why you may need to redirect is to change the location of content to another website. You may create a new website and as such, want to reduce the contents on the old one. Instead of completely deleting them from the old website, you can redirect them to the new one website. With this, the location of the contents will be on the new websites, despite the fact that they were initially published on the old one.

#3 As the need to grow arises

As the need to grow arises, the need to redirect websites will be eminent. Using the example of worldscholarshipforum above, the website was initially launched as nigerianuniversitiesscholarship.com. This domain name created a limitation of limiting the contents to only Nigerianuniversitiesscholarships. With this, the website may not be able to grow as expected. Thus, the entire website was redirected to worldscholarshipforum.com to help them grow and expand. With the new name, the limitation of Nigeria was broken. They could now talk about anything scholarship. Yet, for further expansion, it was again redirected to kiiky.com. On kiiky currently, almost everything is found there. This is why you would need to redirect your website. Everybody wants to grow in his/her business.

#4 To still retain relevance and get links

If you have a new website and want to move your contents from the old one. Ensure you do not make the same kind of mistake I made. If you do, you will be faced with the challenge of having to build a new website from scratch. You will agree with the fact that building a website from the scratch is not honeymoon. Irrespective of your technical know-how, you will still undergo stress and unwanted stuffs.

Also, getting backlinks and google indexing will not be easy for you. If you lose all these in your former website, you have lost a lot. As such, redirection comes when you need to retain your relevance and links. Your old website has started growing already, ensure you do not lose such growth. As at the point of writing this content, none of my posts has been ranked on Google first page. This was the privilege I enjoyed in my other website which I carelessly lost, getting it back is not easy at all.

#5 In the case of merger and acquisition

As a sign of growth, you may need to merge you website with another or even acquire an already existing website. Neil Patel recommended that one of the ways to get quality backlinks to your website is by acquiring high quality websites and the merging it with yours. This was why SemRush acquired Backlinko. With this acquisition, Semrush would be getting about 500,000 additional visitors per month. This is made possible because backlinko has been redirected as a subdomain to Semrush. Same thing happened when Microsoft acquired Linkedin and Lynda.com. Today, Lynda.com no longer exists as a standalone website but has been integrated to linkedin.

#6 To decongest your website

Your website may be crowded with lots of unrelated contents. It is possible to have a single website talking of almost everything. This actually is not in the best practice for website owners (except in rare cases). As such, you may actually need to decongest your main website and split it into smaller units. Therefore, if this is what you want, instead of building a new website and publishing contents on it, you could choose to build a new website and then redirect some links to it. This will help you a great deal. When you do this, you bigger website will be broken into smaller units for ease management and niche focus.

These are some of the reasons why you need to redirect your website or a specific URL. When any of these scenarios arises, ensure you do not make the careless mistake I made back then.

Types of redirect

There are basically 4 major types of redirects that are in use today. When you define what you want to achieve with redirecting your website, then you will know the type of redirect to choose. 

1. 301 Redirect

A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect that is intended to remain that way. It takes place on both the browser and server level. This is the kind of redirect that took place on worldscholarshipforum in the example cited earlier. All the SEO and backlinks of worldscholarshipforum were transferred to kiiky. With this you have nothing at all to loose. This is why the 301 redirect is the most commonly used and powerful redirect.

Also, search engines recognize and index this kind of redirect. As a visitor, you may not be careful enough to observe that such form of redirect took place. Your interest may just be on the fact that you clicked on a link and a page opened. When this happens, you may not observe that the link you clicked is not the same with the link of the page that opened.

2. 302 Redirect

Unlike the 301 redirect which is permanent, the 302 redirect is a temporary redirect. It should only be used when you have the intention of moving back to the old URL at some point. If, for example, you’re redesigning your site, but want to direct users to a different domain before you finish. Or if you want to A/B test two different versions of a page, before committing to a new version, then the 302 redirect is what you need. Since this form of redirect is not commonly used, you should consider carefully before delving into it. Else, you may better choose the 301 redirect.

3. Meta Refresh

There are times you click on a link and you are been greeted with a message that reads, “The original URL has moved, you’re now being redirected. Click here if you’re not redirected in 5 seconds”. This is exactly how the Meta refresh is. For sure, you have had such encounters on several websites you visit. If this is the message you get, if you give 5 seconds, you will be redirected to another page. I have experienced this on several survey websites I work for. When setting up a Meta refresh, you can set the amount of time it should take for the redirect to the new page to take place.

In most cases, search engines interpret a Meta refresh in the same way as a 301 redirect. Although, this happens when you set the allotted time to zero seconds. Also, this type of redirect most times is accompanied by a high bounce rate since several users may not be able to wait for the stipulated number of seconds for the redirect to take place. This therefore results to a very poor user experience. But then, instead of considering a Meta refresh, it is better you go for a 301 redirect.

The risk of using a Meta refresh is that, your website’s credibility is at risk because several visitors may assume that it has a security issue. Also, it negatively impact SEO, if the search engines consider the redirect as mere spam. Therefore, this may result in your website or page getting deindexed.

#4 URL Frame – Masked

The URL frame is a masked redirect. In this type of redirect, your visitors will see the exact URL they typed into their browser. But in the actual sense, they’re viewing another URL. It implies that the URL frame doesn’t redirect to a specific webpage but displays a frame from it. This is mostly used by those who uses a free hosting service. Free hosting requires you to use a subdomain unless you upgrade to a premium plan. The disadvantage is this type of redirect is that same content found on two separate URLs causes duplicate content. Search engines will pick one URL over the other that might not be your preference.

Not all hosting providers allow this type of redirect. So, if you ever run into any issues when applying a URL frame redirect, contact your support for more information.

How to Set Up a Redirect

There is no exact way to choose a redirect for your website. Therefore several website owners have different ways with which they can set up a redirect. Below are the most popular steps that are generally accepted to able redirection.

1. Set up a Redirect in cPanel

When signed into your cPanel account, scroll down to the Domains section. Although, this may differ from host to host. From my own hosting company, once you log into your cPanel, go to “Advance Feature”. Click on “Site Redirection”. In some other hosts, you will need to find the icon for Redirects and click on it.

In the dropdown menu under Type, you can choose between Permanent (301) or Temporary (302). Make your selection.

In the next dropdown menu, choose which domain you’re setting up the redirect for. You can choose All Public Domains if you want the update to apply to all the domains you own, otherwise select the appropriate one from the dropdown.

Then simply fill in the page you want to set up the redirect for, and the page you want it to go to. Note that in the first box, you’ll only put the last part of the URL, since the root domain name is already supplied in the dropdown menu. But in the second box, put in the full URL you want it to redirect it to.

2. Set up a Redirect in Gator

This is strictly for those who built their website using Hostgator. As such, every hosting company has their own redirection strategy. This may not be the exact way it is done on Godaddy, Namecheap etc. But then, they are very similar if th steps are not the same.

If you use the Gator Website Builder, select Edit Site for the website you want to set the redirect up for.

Then select Manage on the menu on the left side of the screen, and Redirects on the menu that opens up from there.

Click the Add Rule button. Enter the page you want to redirect in the box on the left. Select the type of redirect in the dropdown menu.

Then, based on the type of redirect you selected, you can either choose the page you want the old URL to redirect to in the dropdown menu on the right, or you can enter the URL you want it to go to.

Then simply select OK.

The images below provides the simple guidelines to do that.

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How to redirect a URL

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How to redirect a URL

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How to redirect a URL

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How to redirect a URL

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How to redirect a URL

3. Set up a Redirect in WordPress

The easiest way to set up a redirect in WordPress is using a plugin. One popular option for this is Redirection.

If you’re new to adding plugins in WordPress, select Plugins in the menu on the left side of the screen. Click Add New, then perform a search for the plugin you want.

Click Install Now, then Activate. Each plugin will have its own instructions for how to use it. For Redirection, find it in your Installed Plugins list, click on Settings, then go through the setup instructions.

Once it’s set up, you’ll be able to find Redirection listed under Tools. Then click on Redirects in the menu at the top of the screen, and fill in the information for the URL you want to redirect, and the new URL you want it to point to.

Then click the Add Redirect button.

 Conclusion

Setting up a redirect may seem intimidating at first for the non-technical website owners. But with several options, it’s a task you should be able to handle on your own. Using redirects well can help you update your website over time to be more useful in all areas, avoid 404 errors, and improve SEO.

So, ensure that you do not ignorantly lose meaningful contents that should put your site on Google top ranking. If you need to redirect a URL or an entire domain, this content , I guess is what you need. Go on and set up the redirect.

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