A redirect is a method to ensure that when a link to a given URL (e.g. http://www.sitename.com/folder/page.html ) is clicked on, the visitor is redirected to an alternative target.
This can be useful for different situations and how you implement such a redirection will vary accordingly.
Redirecting an Out-of-Date Page
This might occur when a page (and therefore its URL) needs to be deleted, but you want visitors who have it bookmarked (or search engines that have it indexed) to end up at a good alternative or replacement page instead of getting an ugly “404 Page Not Found” error.
Say you have a page on your site about a product that has now been removed from sale – and you also have another page, all about the super new, all-singing, all-dancing product that you have chosen to replace it with.
If the old page has been linked to from anywhere else – either on other websites, from within PDF or other documents, or even in printed items, then you want people attempting to visit that old page to be automatically redirected to the new page.
So when someone clicks on or types in – http://www.my-company-site.com/top-selling-old-product – you want them to be automatically landed on the page for your replacement product – http://www.my-company-site.com/best-new-product
Likewise, if the old page was ranking well in search engine results, you want search engines to transfer that benefit to the new page.
When you want to implement a redirection like this permanently, it is likely to make sense to implement what is called a 301 Redirect.
A 301 redirect is an efficient method for redirecting one URL to another. It’s also search engine friendly as it should help preserve most of the ‘link-juice’ that benefits the page being redirected.
Providing an Easier to Remember Link
Another form of redirect is to replace a long URL link for a particular page you want to promote with something that looks better, more friendly, and easier to remember.
So instead of trying to promote http://www.my-company-site.com/product-portfolio/top-10/offers/blue-products/acme-blue-widget , you can instead use http://www.my-company-name.com/blue-widget-offer
You might want to do the same with ugly long affiliate links – using a nicer looking alternative which encourages more visitors to click through.
For example, say you have a site called www.TopSellingGizmo.com and the Gizmo maker you are affiliated to has given you an affiliate link to use like:
Instead of that appearing at the bottom of the browser window (or as a link in your email) you can create a simple redirect to get to the same place using a much neater link – like http://www.TopSellingGizmo.com/
For this kind of redirect, you might want to use a php redirect.
Let’s have a look at both types of Redirect in this post – how to set up a redirect.