Go to Blog

Server Responses in the Eyes of Google: How Errors and Page Redirects Affect Search Engine Position

SEMrush Blog
Server Responses in the Eyes of Google: How Errors and Page Redirects Affect Search Engine Position

Sometimes when you type in a URL in the address bar of an internet browser, you are often redirected to a different link. This is often because the URL of the website has been updated and the site is now hosted on that particular domain. There have been several instances of major websites being shifted from one URL to another. Sometimes, this type of arrangement is temporary, in which case the redirect is known as a 302. A permanent redirect is referred to as a code 301 redirect.

While there is nothing wrong with a website changing its URL or shifting domains. The issue is that the move could have a direct impact on its search engine position. There are two common types of redirects Google looks down upon, 301 and 302. In addition, there are a few server errors that can also damage a website’s search engine rankings. The most common type of server error in this regard is a 404 error. A 404 is displayed when the website cannot be found.

This type of error is common if the owner or host of the website has not redirected it properly. It is also possible the website has simply ceased to exist. Either way, the 404 page not found error can have a drastic impact on the ranking for a website, particularly if it is still in existence. Server errors are comparatively less controversial as most of them are accurate. This is not the case with redirects. Webmasters and marketers feel that the search engine position of a website should not be altered simply because its address has changed.

Importance of Redirects and the Effect on Search Engine Rankings

When it is widely known that redirecting a website could lead to a steep fall in its position on the search rankings, one is forced to wonder why bear the hassle in the first place. However, there are some solid reasons why a website may be redirected. After all, Google also redirects users. Haven’t you noticed that when you type in www.google.com in the browser, you are taken to the country-specific page of the website depending on your location? Here are some reasons for redirects.

Directing to the Correct URL

Blame this on the people. Internet users generally don’t type ‘www.’ before the domain name and the browser has to direct them there. The problem for search engines is that they consider a domain without the ‘www’ to be different than the one that has ‘www’ at the beginning. Since they view them as two separate pages, they consider them to have duplicate content. This is why the webmaster adds a 301 redirect to take users to the correct page.

Pointing to Updated Information

Sometimes, the content posted on a website can become obsolete. In that case, the webmaster may choose to direct users to a different URL where they can find updated information on the topic. They can add a 302 redirect if the change is temporary while you update the content on the original page. Otherwise, they can use a 301 redirect checker to ensure the redirection is correct.

Device Specific Landing Page

Internet usage on mobile devices has been so rapid that it has caught everyone by surprise. Webmasters often have to design different websites for each device or platform their visitors use. This is usually the case with mobile versions of websites and landing pages designed specifically for mobile users. So, if you are using a mobile device, you are more likely to be redirected to the mobile version of the landing page rather than the one designed for traditional desktops and laptops.

Maintenance of Website

Websites have to be maintained and updated from time to time. Else, the efficacy of the website is disturbed. However, maintenance means taking the website offline. So, what webmasters do is to create a new webpage where they paste the entire website which users can access while the original website is down. This is the perfect example of a temporary 302 redirect.

Restructuring of Website

Perhaps the most significant of all changes to a website for it to be redirected is restructuring. Either the website is moved to a new domain or the internal structure of the website has to be changed. Regardless of the way in which it is restructured, the redirection would have an impact on the search engine ranking of the website.

These are some of the main reasons why a website requires a 301 or a 302 redirect and how this affects their search engine position. For the search position to be disturbed, a website has to get to the top of the rankings in the first place. Any strategy you use for optimizing your website in the search engines involves keywords. If you want to find the best keywords for your campaigns, use SEMrush. SEMrush is a tool you can use to get your website to the apex of search engine rankings.

Like this post? Follow us on RSS and read more interesting posts:

This profile is specifically designed for our old blog posts.
Share this post


2000 symbols remain
Can you talk more specifically about website restructuring and how to do it without damaging search rankings? For example, our site navigation is outdated and not customer-centric. We need to re-design the site to make it more user friendly. But we have several pages deep in the existing navigation that rank on page 1 of the SERPs and deliver 95% of our organic traffic and 60-70% of our subscriber conversions. The pages are obviously highly valuable, but the old navigation embedded in their URLs doesn't make sense anymore.