Using redirects

Redirects are web tools that help people continue to find website content, even if it’s moved locations. 

Redirects can be part of a successful web improvement, but should not be a long term solution as they can negatively impact the user experience of your website and may affect the search engine optimization. 

When to use redirects

The main reasons are:

  • An individual page or entire website has moved
  • To allow the use of alternative URLs
  • When content changes during a website improvement or migration, such as when two pages are combined into one page 

Types of redirects

Internal redirects

  • When a page changes name or location in the same domain, or you want to like from your website to another domain.

Example:

finance.ucsc.edu/apply-for-information2021, changes to finance.ucsc.edu/apply 
or
financialaid.ucsc.edu/department should link to finance.ucsc.edu  

Use the Safe Redirect Manager Tool to complete redirects within your own website.

Domain redirects

  • When you need an alternative url, or a domain name has changed.

Examples:

apo.ucsc.edu, changes to academicpersonnel.ucsc.edu

fa.ucsc.edu remains your url, but you also want the alternative url financialaid.ucsc.edu

There are certain conditions where domain redirects will be approved, and these can only be requested by affiliated UCSC faculty or staff. 

To request domain level redirects, submit a SlugHub help request.

Fixing 404 pages 

  • When a page no longer exists in the same domain.

Use the Safe Redirect Manager Tool to complete redirects within your own website.


Plan for redirects

If your URL is changing

If your website URL is changing, it’s better strategy to implement a domain redirect to guide everyone back to your home page.

This may require users to re-find content on your new website, but it’s a more sustainable practice.

If only page URLs are changing 

If you are keeping the same domain name, you have the ability to control these within your WordPress website.  

Remember: you will need to maintain these, and they should not be permanent solutions. 


Telling the digital world that you’ve moved

Just like you need to tell the post office that you’ve moved physical locations in order to keep receiving mail, you also need to tell your digital audience that things have changed.  A redirect only does part of this work, and if users are aware of the move they will be less likely to use the old URL. 

Some ways to notify users of changes to your website

Before you make changes, post a news article about upcoming changes.

Use other communication channels (email, social media, etc) to share. 

These communications should notify users that they will need to update bookmarked web pages. 

See how others notify their users: Communicating about your website redesign. — Inside Higher Ed 

Should you redirect every page on your website?

In short, no. This would create an overly complex network of redirects that would take a great effort to maintain. 

Remember, redirects need maintenance

Redirects need to be maintained over time. It’s a best practice to minimize redirects and make them temporary.   


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Last modified: Oct 06, 2023