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Tutorial: A guide to different domain redirects

In the ever-changing world of websites, URLs sometimes go out of date. When that happens, domain redirects come in handy to ensure users (and search engines) land on the correct page. But with various redirect types available, choosing the right one can be tricky. This article will be your guide, explaining the most common domain redirects and their uses.

Permanent vs. Temporary: Understanding the Big Picture

First, let’s categorize redirects based on their duration. We have permanent redirects, which signal a long-term change, and temporary redirects, used for short-term situations.

Permanent Redirects (301): These are the workhorses of redirects. A 301 redirect informs search engines and users that a page has been permanently moved to a new location. The new URL inherits the link equity (importance) of the old one, making it crucial for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Use 301 redirects when:

  • You’ve revamped your website structure.
  • A page is no longer relevant and has a better replacement.
  • You’ve merged domains.

Temporary Redirects (302 & 307): When a URL change is temporary, use a temporary redirect. Search engines won’t transfer link equity in this case. Here are the common temporary redirects:

  • 302 Found: This is the most common temporary redirect, used for situations like website maintenance or A/B testing.
  • 307 Temporary Redirect: This is a more recent HTTP standard specifically designed for temporary redirects.

Choosing the Right Redirect: Always opt for a 301 redirect for permanent URL changes. Temporary redirects are for exceptional circumstances.

Beyond the Basics: Other Redirect Options

While 301 and 302 redirects are the most common, there are a few other options to consider:

Meta Refresh: This is a technique where a webpage refreshes itself after a set time and redirects to a new location. It’s generally considered outdated and can be user-unfriendly.

URL Frames: This method displays content from another website within a frame on your webpage. While it can be useful in specific situations, it’s not ideal for SEO and can create a confusing user experience.

CNAME Flattening: This is a special type of redirect used in Domain Name System (DNS) management. It essentially aliases one domain name to another.


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