When 301 redirects are done correctly, they have the power to resolve outdated content issues, cleanup messy architecture, and enhance user experience. Fortunately, 90% of link juice and ranking status gets preserved and passed on to new pages. Alternatively, the results can be damaging when redirects are done incorrectly.
Google has hit hard on the poor quality links, so possible damage from incorrect 301 redirects have dramatically increased. Google has also changed its way of handling non-relevant redirects, so now it has become extremely essential to make correct WordPress redirect implementation.
- In 301 redirects, search engines, visitors, and link equity are redirected to the new URL permanently.
- In 302 redirects, search engines and bots are redirected from URL A to URL B temporarily, but the link equity is left behind.
Redirecting to non-relevant URL degrades the ranking
The 301 redirect has to be made to relevant or close to relevant pages. However, issues arise when webmasters create a redirect that sends visitors to irrelevant pages. For example, if the old page had content about golden retriever, then redirecting it to a similar page means 100% relevancy. Redirecting the golden retriever to a URL about dogs is sensible, and that means 70% relevancy. However, if it is redirected to a ‘pizza’ page then the relevancy gets degraded. So you can see why non-relevant URLs don’t get a boost from the redirects.
Redirecting every URL to the homepage is bad
Bulk redirects to a website’s home page are treated as soft 404s. It means the URLs get removed from index and link equity getting lost. It is sensible to redirect relevant URLs to nearly closely relevant pages rather than the homepage. If the page receives less traffic, or if there is no relevant page, then it is fine to get served with 410 or 404 status code.
Redirecting entire domain including bad backlinks
When an entire domain is redirected, its poor quality backlinks also migrate with it. These toxic backlinks from the old domain can damage your SEO effort on the new address. To avoid penalties suffered from those poor backlinks associated with your old domain, you must plan to migrate to a new domain and start fresh. Therefore clean this mess with individual redirects. You can also choose to reset WordPress after taking backups first. Drop the pages with 410s or 404s!
Long chains and loop patterns can be harmful
Long chains and loop patterns can be formed with too many redirects. Google will follow every redirect but as it moves forward link equity will diminish. Anchor text relevance gets diluted, as well as there may be indexing and crawling errors. The redirect chain has to be as short as possible, just two steps are good.
Changes in handling 302 redirects are expected
302 redirects are not preferred for SEOs because link juice does not get transferred like in 301 redirects. Actually, 302s are for temporary use, but webmasters accidentally implement them incorrectly on permanent pages. Google will treat them as soft 301 errors.