Website migrations can be extremely varied activities; they can be completely different each time and are often paramount to an SEO campaign. There are a few things that do not ever change with migrations, and one of the most important factors with any migration is the redirects.
Redirects can make or break a migration. By giving search engines easy access to the website via its stored URLs and allowing it to easily adjust its crawl paths (ensuring to be comprehensive as such, including all internal URLs and valuable legacy URLs) and you won’t have a problem.
However, missing URLs from your redirect mapping could see your website take a serious hit in traffic.
Redirects can often be vexatious to deal with, from the mapping process through to maintaining them on the website. Typically, you can be hindered by hurdles and various obstacles to get them uploaded and tested.
Fortunately, recent developments in popular CDN and WAF providers have allowed for new approaches concerning redirects. Most importantly, it has allowed us to handle redirects through CDNs and WAFs rather than handling them all locally.
So, what does that mean? We have broken it down into four sections below!
Less stress on your server to handle the redirects
Redirects typically slow down a server due to it having to process the prolonged response back to the user. In addition, the more redirects a website has the slower it gets in general. This is a huge issue for larger websites with thousands of URLs to be redirected, as it can dampen your website speed – an increasingly important ranking factor to Google.
By leveraging the cloud for all your redirects, this puts less stress on the server when a user accesses an old URL.
Most cloud providers (through third party tools or not) provide an unlimited number of redirects. Having many redirects fortunately does not put a strain on the cloud as they do with the server. This means you won’t have to sacrifice either performance vector.
As well as not being held back by the limitations of your server, it could also be cheaper as you will not have to needlessly upgrade your origin server but instead use a CDN/WAF (which can even be free!).
Quicker speeds as redirects happen closer to the user
With a website userbase usually being multinational, having redirects leveraged on one sole server can hamper wait times.
For example, a user in Italy would want to access a website that is hosted in the USA may land on a redirect, who would then have to wait for the redirect response to come through from the American server.
Having redirects on a CDN/WAF, however, would make this process a lot quicker as the edge servers tend to be in most countries. Therefore a user in Italy would have a quicker response as the redirect goes through the CDN server in the respective country.
As well as increasing speed for the user (albeit very slightly), this can also improve speeds for search engine crawlers.
More flexibility to handle redirects
Some server software only allows a certain number of redirects to be uploaded at a time, or for redirects to be uploaded in a certain (often dated and inaccessible) format.
Using the cloud to handle the redirects allows for them to uploaded and maintained in multiple ways (although each provider will have their own preferred way), as well as potentially using a whole array of redirect codes. But the only ones you should ideally be using are 301s and 302s.
Easier for SEOs to maintain
Handling redirects through developers and htaccess (or an equivalent method) can be a very needlessly overcomplicated process with many hurdles and long wait-times on developers.
CDN and WAF providers, however, often provide accessible ways to upload and manage redirects such as through a linked spreadsheet or through a user-friendly GUI. This provides an instant change that does not have to go through convoluted steps. This makes it much easier for SEOs to implement redirects on the fly simply.
At SALT, we’ve created our own edge software which allows you to do this already. Sloth is a tool developed by us for Cloudflare using Cloudflare Workers, where users can handle redirects, run A/B split testing, implementing hreflang, and much more.
If you want to get in touch about migrating your website and using the cloud to help do so, feel free to contact us!