As your WordPress website evolves over time it is inevitable that you will remove old pages, rename pages, and add new pages. This is especially true when completing a redesign project or content restructuring. Another common instance we see this occur is when an organization grows, changes the business model, or merges with another organization. When this happens, you need to take special care to ensure that any page URLs that were removed or changed are properly redirected to an existing page, otherwise your site will generate what are called ‘not found errors’ until search engines like Google fully re-index the site (which can take some time). Also, any links back to the site you or others posted on social media, online directories, or via other site’s blog comments which no longer exist will return that same dreaded ‘not found error’. These external links, called ‘back links’, are especially important for search engine optimization (SEO) not to mention user experience (linking to a ‘page not found’ as a first impression of your website is far from ideal). Oh, and those ‘not found errors’? Too many of them can have a negative effect on SEO too.
So what is a website owner to do to ensure this isn’t a problem, both during a major restructuring/redesign and during the course of day to day smaller changes to the site? The short answer: redirection. Redirection is just as it sounds, directing an old removed page URL to a new active one. There are quite a few ways to do it, and the best approach depends on the specific details involved, but nine times out of ten the wisest method is to utilize the easy to use and powerful Redirection WordPress plugin.
Redirection has over a million active installations, very favorable reviews, and is regularly maintained and updated. Those are all the ingredients for a plugin you can trust will work with your site without incident. Using the plugin is as simple as entering the old URL, entering the new URL, and clicking ‘add redirect’.
You can create different groups to easily track and manage redirects from different sections of the site, or different events in the website history (ie. redesign, company merger, etc.). There are some more advanced options as well, but for most users, the above ‘source url’ and ‘target url’ are all they’ll need to worry about.
Some handy additional features include:
- Conditional redirects for login status, WordPress capability, browser, referrer site/page, cookies set, HTTP headers, IP address, server, and page type.
- Complete logging of all redirects with additional user meta.
- Easily exportable to view externally or import into another installation.
- Tracking of ‘not found errors’.
- Use regular expressions to match and redirect pages based on a pattern.
- Excellent documentation at: https://redirection.me/ .
- Much more!
Here’s the best thing: it’s free! It’s also not very resource intensive, so it won’t have any notable negative impact on the performance of your site.
As easy as Redirection is to use, we do recommend having an experienced development team initially install and configure it, and it is also wise to work out a redirection strategy for anything more than a page or two at a time.