I lately discovered a brand new phrase from a potential consumer: “limbo web page.” He used the time period when describing his firm’s migration to a brand new ecommerce platform. The corporate accurately mapped 301 redirects for a lot of particular person URLs. Nevertheless it created a catchall redirect for the others. The catchall redirect pointed to a “limbo web page.”
The Oxford dictionary defines limbo as “a state of neglect or oblivion.” That’s a great way of describing mass redirects to a single web page. It’s a horrible concept.
On this article, I’ll clarify what to do as an alternative.
The observe of redirecting hyperlinks to all deleted or nonexistent URLs to at least one web page is frequent. The house web page is the most well-liked vacation spot, however search pages are standard too.
Let’s evaluation just a few distinguished examples.
Tupperware 301 redirects any non-existing web page with a unadorned area URL (with out the www) to the house web page. Tupperware accurately returns a 404 standing code for non-existent pages that embrace the www. (Mytheresa, a trend retailer, does the identical factor.)
Smarthome, which sells “house automation” merchandise, 302 redirects non-existing pages to its house web page with or with out www within the URL. (So does HDtracks, which sells music downloads.)
Device retailer Harbor Freight shows an error web page when the URL doesn’t exist however presents an incorrect 200 standing code to the search engines.
Home Model, an attire retailer, 301 redirects to an intermediate web page known as /no-route/ and from that URL to the house web page.
Payporte, one other trend web site, is extra intelligent. It turns the non-existing web page string into an inside search. It’s intelligent, however nonetheless a nasty observe.
At first look a catchall limbo web page looks like an excellent answer. As an alternative of fixing 1000’s or tens of 1000’s of redirect errors by manually mapping them to appropriate pages, arrange a easy catchall rule and ship all customers (and bots) to a single web page.
In spite of everything, displaying errors when customers are on the lookout for one thing is just not optimum. And for search engines, resolving helpful hyperlinks to 404 pages can damage rankings.
However there are a number of issues with this strategy.
First, Google and different search engines will deal with error pages with incorrect standing codes as gentle 404s. I’ve additionally seen gentle 404s when too many redirects find yourself on one web page.
Right here’s an evidence from Google’s “Search Console Assist” portal:
Returning successful code, somewhat than 404/410 (not discovered) or 301 (moved), is a nasty observe. A hit code tells search engines that there’s an actual web page at that URL. Because of this, the web page could also be listed in search outcomes, and search engines will proceed making an attempt to crawl that non-existent URL as an alternative of spending time crawling your actual pages.
Thus, failure to make use of the proper 404 or 410 standing codes wastes crawl price range. 404 and 410 codes inform search engines to cease crawling these pages for some time, saving crawl price range.
Furthermore, consolidating many unrelated pages to at least one web page will trigger that web page to rank for irrelevant key phrases.
As an SEO practitioner, my largest downside with these catchall pages is that they conceal actual points and forestall or delay the right analysis of issues. I’ve to disable the catch-all rule and await search engines to recrawl to find out reputable 404s.
A Higher Method
In case your web site modifications platforms and you have to redirect hard-to-map URLs, it might be higher to observe server logs and, additionally, Google Search Console for 404 errors as they happen and repair them.
Present a useful and customised 404 web page. Don’t use the default templates out of your ecommerce platform supplier. And ensure the web page truly returns a 404 standing code — check utilizing random strings with each www and non-www.
To map 1000’s of URLs with out affecting web page pace, see my article “SEO: The way to Detect, Appropriate Duplicate Content material Pages.”
Lastly, when altering platforms or domains, be certain your redirect guidelines protect redundant parameters. Right here’s an instance. Say you replatform and alter URLs, from www.storeA.com/product/1 to www.storeB.com/class/product/1. You arrange a one-to-one 301 redirect rule. If a person varieties the URL for retailer A precisely as within the rule, it is going to redirect.
However say your electronic mail e-newsletter added a monitoring parameter to the shop A URL, similar to www.storeA.com/product/1?marketing campaign=electronic mail. A redirect rule that ignores the parameter is simply too strict. A person who bookmarked the parameter URL would obtain a 404.
Thus the proper setup is to make use of a parameter wildcard * for 301 redirects, as in www.storeA.com/product/1?* to www.storeB.com/class/product/1.