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Websites have evolved into a dynamic interface with features and content that are updated regularly
By: Mehdi Daoudi
Feb. 15, 2018 04:30 PM
Web Performance 101 - Redirects
Websites are no longer just simple HTML pages with static content—they’ve evolved into a dynamic interface with features and content that are updated regularly. Website administrators use different techniques to ensure the user is viewing the latest version of the page or content. When new features are being added to the site, or a webpage resource has been moved to a new location, you don’t want the users to have access these pages. Preventing access can be done with the use of webpage redirects. Incoming HTTP requests can be redirected to another location on the site so the user experience is seamless. Webpage redirects can be used to:
Types of Redirects
301 – Moved Permanently: When an HTTP request returns a 301 status code, it informs the browser that the requested resource has been permanently moved to a new location and provides the address of the new location. It is usually used when there is a domain change, or to redirect old or non-existent pages to new URLs.
302 – Found: These are temporary redirects that are used when a resource needs to be temporarily served from a different location. For example, if you are making changes to certain pages on your site and don’t want the users to access these pages, then you will need to set up redirects to forward the user to a different page.
307 – Moved Temporarily: These function the same way as a 302 and is used when a page needs to be redirected temporarily, but 302 is only set up when the incoming request is either the HEAD or GET method; in all other instances of a temporary redirect, 307 is the recommended HTTP redirect.
304 – Not Modified: The status code 304 specifies whether the requested resource has been modified since it was last requested. It then redirects the request to fetch the content from cache instead of the server.
Performance Impact of Redirects
Webpage load time is also affected by internal redirects; for example, if the page tries to load content from a URL that has been redirected to newer or updated content, then the browser must create additional requests to fetch the valid content. These redirects result in additional round trips between the browser and the web server which pushes the load time higher; the perceived performance is degraded every time the browser encounters a redundant redirect.
Common Redirect Errors
Consider the data below—the website has 160 objects on the page, out of which 46 are redirects, and this inevitably slows down the site. The page takes almost 13 seconds to fully load.
Implementing Redirects the Right Way
It’s best to minimize the use of redirects; if it is an indispensable part of your SEO strategy, then check the existing redirects before adding new ones, and delete those that are no longer needed. Regularly tracking and maintaining existing redirects on your website should be an important part of site optimization.
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