With all of the time and effort that goes into building a website, many people don’t realize all of the ways that they are inadvertently hurting their search engine rankings and user experience. Slow websites are a big problem, and most users don’t have any patience to wait. If your bounce rate is climbing or your ranking is suffering, landing page redirects may be the hidden culprit.
What are Landing Page Redirects?
Have you ever typed in a web address only to see a different address load in your browser? This happens because the web page uses a redirect to show the user content from another URL. Redirects are a common solution to directing traffic on your website when you make changes.
Sometimes redirects make sense, like when you:
- Move content like a post or entire website to a new URL.
- Correct a misspelling.
- To update protocols or security policies.
- To track clicks or impressions.
Related: Things to Consider When Designing a Website
Why You Should Avoid Redirects
It is a fact, redirects are widely used, and there is a lot of chatter debating if this practice hurts search engine optimization (SEO). The controversy is probably because, on a broadband network, you may not even notice the redirect. But with more than half of users on mobile devices with slower networks, redirects can slow things down enough to hurt your SEO.
Plus, if slow speeds and a bad user experience aren’t enough to deter you, there is more. Too many redirects to one landing page will make your website uncrawlable. This is a big deal because if the search engine bots can’t crawl your site, you won’t show up in search results.
These are some compelling reasons to build your SEO strategy around avoiding landing page redirects.
How to Avoid Landing Page Redirects
There are a few ways to avoid or minimize dealing with directs. Choosing the right layout and implementing some consistency practices like URL structure and hyperlinks can help.
Use a Responsive Layout
Your website needs mobile optimization-that is not optional. But there are a couple of different ways to go about it. Most commonly, your main website is built for desktop users and redirects to a similar but scaled-down version for mobile users.
This is not ideal. This method relies on creating a redirect for all mobile users, who are also the ones who are most likely to notice slower loading speeds. The solution is to choose one versatile layout that works well on all devices.
Don’t Change URLs
Did you just read a compelling article on optimizing your URLs using your keywords? It is solid advice for optimization, but that doesn’t mean that you should try to edit existing URLs. Changing URLs on published posts creates a lot of problems, especially when that content is already indexed on search engines. Instead, focus on implementing keyword URLs for new content as a best practice moving forward.
Use Consistent Hyperlinks
Did you know that www.website.com and website.com are two different URLs, and each time you link to one (or the other), you may be inadvertently creating redirects. The same principle goes for www.website.com/home and www.website.com/home/. The forward slash at the end of the web address is a pretty important character.
Inconsistent hyperlinks can be confusing for your server and create unnecessary redirects, all of which add more loading time to your website, which we all agree isn’t a good thing.
Related: The Correct Way to Run a Website Speed Test
Mindspun is a next generation content platform to build responsive, integrated websites for any purpose. Learn more about our features for e-commerce and content marketing today.
Allow Access to Non-HTML Resources
When a user accesses a web page, many files have to load. In addition to HTML code that displays the elements on the web page, dozens of multimedia files like images and videos can load.
Your pages need multimedia to create an immersive user experience. Like many things in the online world, there are a few different ways to store non-HTML files. The best practice is to store these files directly on your server and avoid redirects to download content.
Check Your Use of Slashes
Have you ever noticed a trailing slash at the end of a web address? It looks like this: www.website.com/ or www.mysite.com/home/. The trailing forward slash typically indicates a directory. A URL without a trailing slash typically indicates a file. However, these are not hard rules; you will find many websites that seem to use the trailing slash format interchangeably. We recommend that you pick one and stick with it.
How to Fix Redirects
We have talked considerably about how and why to avoid redirects. But we also mentioned that there are some instances when using a redirect is necessary. Let’s take a look at how we can use redirects effectively without slowing things down or hurting SEO.
An HTTP redirect uses a 301 or 302 protocol to set up a redirect on the server. If you have to create a redirect, this is the preferred method. A 301 redirect is like a change of address. This type of redirect works best for content or sites that have moved to a new (preferred) URL. A 302 redirect is for pages or content that have been deleted.
In addition to limiting the use of redirects whenever possible, you also need to be strict about using HTTP redirects. Specifically, do not create chained redirects or a redirect that points to another redirect. At most, use one redirect pointing to the preferred URL.
If you own multiple domains pointing to the same content, optimize traffic resources by prioritizing redirects to the URL with the most organic traffic. Remember to keep your HTTP redirects simple and point one redirect from each URL to the primary URL rather than chaining them together.
Landing page redirects are a common solution to a variety of problems. But just because redirects are common does not mean they are a good idea. Too many or poorly structured redirects can hurt your website’s performance. It is best to avoid redirects, and when implemented, we recommend sticking to the best practices and using consistent URL structures and HTTP redirection.
Mindspun understands that a fast, responsive, and lean website is important for the modern world wide web. Build a blog or an e-commerce website without all of the bulk that comes with other platforms. Contact us today to get started.