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Domain Name Redirection Strategies for Improved UX

Domain Name Redirection Strategies for Improved UX

Domain name redirection refers to configuring a domain name to redirect visitors to a different domain or web page. This can be done for various reasons, such as consolidating multiple domains, moving to a new domain, or improving the user experience. In this 10,000 word article, we will explore various domain redirection strategies and how they can be utilized to enhance user experience (UX).

Types of Domain Redirection

There are several common types of domain redirection:

301 Permanent Redirection

A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect which passes between 90-99% of link equity (ranking power) to the new page. This is the best option when you want to permanently redirect an old domain to a new domain, or consolidate multiple domains into one. The 301 signal indicates to search engines that the redirect is permanent.

302 Temporary Redirection

A 302 temporary redirect passes little to no equity. It is commonly used for maintenance pages, temporarily redirecting to another domain, or A/B testing. The 302 signal indicates the redirect is only temporary.

307 Temporary Redirection

The 307 redirect is similar to a 302 but passes along user context like POST data. It is useful when you want to temporarily redirect users but need to maintain user submitted data.

Meta Refresh Redirect

A meta refresh redirect uses a meta tag in the page header to refresh the browser to a new page after a given time delay. This passes no equity and is discouraged by Google.

JavaScript Redirect

JavaScript can be used to trigger a redirect by inserting a small script in the page header. Like a meta refresh, this passes no equity. It is mainly used for aesthetics, such as landing page to website transitions.

Frame Redirect

A frame redirect displays the old domain in a “frame” while the target domain displays in another frame. This is no longer recommended as it provides a poor user experience.

When to Use Domain Redirection

Domain redirection can be leveraged in the following scenarios to provide a better user experience:

Migrating to a New Domain

When migrating sites to a new domain, a permanent 301 redirect should be used to transfer equity to the new domain. For example, if you change your domain from www.myoldsite.com to www.mynewsite.com, you would do a 301 from the old domain to the new one. This maintains rankings and ensures users and search engines seamlessly find the new domain.

Linking Related Domains

If you have multiple domains that serve similar or related content, it often makes sense to redirect them to a single domain to consolidate authority. For example, you may own www.widgets.com and www.widgetshop.com and want to redirect both to www.acmewidgets.com.

Shortening Long Domain Names

Sometimes companies purchase shorter domains to replace long, complex ones. A 301 redirect from the long domain to the shortened one helps transfer equity and makes the domain name more brandable.

Fixing Typos

You can set up redirects from common typos of your domain to assist users who make mistakes. For example, you can redirect awesomsite.com to awesomesite.com.

Moving to HTTPS URLs

When migrating a site to HTTPS, permanent 301 redirects should be used from old HTTP pages to new HTTPS versions. This passes page authority and ensures a smooth transition.

Updating Insecure Content

If your site has changed image URLs, removed insecure elements, or updated internal links, redirects can point users and search engines to the updated, secure content.

Landing Page Testing

Temporary 302 redirects are useful for testing new landing pages. You can temporarily redirect a portion of your traffic to test conversion rates before making a permanent switch.

Best Practices for Domain Redirection

When setting up domain redirects, the following best practices should be followed:

Use 301 Permanent Redirects Whenever Possible

The 301 permanent redirect is the best option in most cases because it maintains search engine equity. Temporary redirects should only be used when absolutely necessary.

Redirect All Possible URL Variants

Don’t just redirect the homepage – set up 301s for every possible page variant. This includes http vs https, www vs non-www, domain.com vs domain.net, and common parameters like index.html. Failing to redirect all variants can result in duplicate content penalties.

Validate Redirect Chains

Be sure to test your redirects to make sure pages aren’t redirecting through multiple unnecessary hops before reaching the final destination. Multiple 301s in a chain can dilute equity.

Update Internal Links

Any internal links pointing to the old domain should be updated to point to the new target URL. This helps search engines identify the correct domain as canonical.

Redirect with Server Config, Not HTML

The best way to set up redirects is within your server config file (e.g. .htaccess or web.config). Avoid using HTML meta refresh or JavaScript redirects when possible.

Monitor 404s

Keep an eye on your 404 error logs and set up additional redirects for any pages still linking to the old domain that trigger 404s. This ensures no pages are left as “dead ends”.

Pass Parameters Properly

When redirecting pages with URL parameters, use the [R=301,L] syntax for Apache servers or Query String append for IIS to pass parameters.

Consider Ultimate Destination

When consolidating multiple domains, consider which domain has the most authority and highest-quality backlink profile. This should typically be the ultimate destination domain.

Technical Setup Steps

The specific technical steps to configure domain redirection depends on your server setup:


For Apache servers, domain redirection is configured in an .htaccess file at the root directory using the Redirect directive:

Redirect 301 /oldpage.html https://www.newdomain.com/newpage.html 

Redirect 302 /temppage.html https://www.newdomain.com/newpage.html

The syntax is simple – just specify the redirect code (301 or 302), the old path, and the new URL.


On Nginx servers, redirection is configured within the server block in the nginx.conf file:

server {

  listen 80;

  server_name www.olddomain.com;

  return 301 $scheme://www.newdomain.com$request_uri;  


This does a permanent redirect while maintaining the original request URI.


For IIS servers, permanent redirection is configured through the URL Rewrite module. For example:

<rule name="Rewrite to newdomain" stopProcessing="true">

  <match url=".*" />


      <add input="{HTTP_HOST}" pattern="^www\.olddomain\.com$" />


  <action type="Redirect" url="http://www.newdomain.com/{R:0}" 

    redirectType="Permanent" />


This matches any URL on the old domain and redirects to the new domain with a permanent 301 code.


Within WordPress, redirection can be configured via the native redirection plugin or plugins like Simple 301 Redirects. These provide an interface to easily set up automatic redirects when migrating domains or pages.


Similarly, redirects can be set up in Joomla through native components or extensions like sh404SEF. These allow configuring both temporary and permanent redirects through an admin console.


Drupal offers the Redirect module which allows defining redirect patterns and settings redirects manually or based on URL aliases. The Global Redirect module is another option for handling redirects.

Redirect Considerations for Specific Cases

Certain types of redirects require additional planning and steps beyond basic domain/URL redirection:

Migrating Sites Across Subfolders

If migrating sites across subfolders (e.g. from root domain to domain.com/folder/) extra care must be taken to maintain equity. In addition to redirecting the root, subfolders and files will need redirects preserving full path structure.

Merging Sites

When merging multiple domains into one, conduct thorough site migrations to avoid duplicate content issues. Set up redirects, update internal links, rename/restructure content, and fetch new Sitemaps.

Moving to a New Domain Registrar

Besides basic domain/URL redirects when changing registrars, also update nameservers and DNS records at the new registrar. Add redirects at the old registrar if supported.

Changing Domain Extensions

Take additional care when redirecting across top level domains, like .com to .net. Match any subdomain structure (including www.) and port numbers using best practices outlined above to maintain equity.

Redirecting Country Code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs)

ccTLDs like .co.uk add complexity when redirecting internationally. Follow localization best practices and match geo-targeted domains/subdomains in redirects while avoiding duplicate content.

Redirecting Dynamic URLs

For URLs with dynamic parameters, use [R=301,L] for Apache and Query String Append in IIS to pass all associated parameters intact using best redirect practices.

Common Redirect Mistakes to Avoid

Some common mistakes lead to problems with domain redirection, including:

Using a 302 Temporary Redirect Instead of 301 Permanent

A 302 redirect fails to pass on search engine equity from the old domain. Use 301 redirects unless you specifically need a temporary redirect.

Not Redirecting Subdomains

Neglecting to redirect subdomains like www, sports.domain.com, etc can lead to duplicate content penalties or lost rankings.

Failing to Redirect at Root Domain Level

In addition to redirecting pages/files, be sure to redirect the root domain for full consolidation of authority.

Using Chained/Multiple Redirects

Redirect chains with multiple unnecessary hops dilute equity. Lead users directly to the target with a single 301 redirect.

Improper Redirect Target Source

Point the redirect source at the file or folder itself, not the parent directory to avoid endless redirect loops.

Not Updating Internal Links

Remember to update internal links pointing to redirected pages/domains. This helps search engines identify the proper domain.

Leaving Orphaned Pages

Check for 404 errors and redirect any remaining pages on the old site still receiving links/traffic.

Overlooking URL Parameters

Use proper syntax to preserve URL parameters when redirecting or you may lose crucial identifying data.

Failing to Update XML Sitemaps

Generate new XML sitemaps and submit them to search engines to ensure clean crawl of new site structure.

Redirect Testing and Validation

After setting up domain redirects, proper testing and validation should be conducted:

Check Redirect Code

Verify the server is returning the proper 301, 302 or 307 redirect status code.

Confirm Redirect Target

Pull up the old domain URLs and validate they are correctly redirecting to the expected new target URLs.

Test Redirect Chains

Follow redirect chains through multiple links and confirm no endless loops or unnecessary steps occur before final destination.

Validate URL Parameters Passed

Test pages with URL parameters to ensure dynamic values carry over properly after redirects.

Crawl for 404s

Crawl the old domain and check logs to identify any 404 errors still occurring, indicating pages missed in redirect setup.

Submit New Sitemaps

Register new XML sitemaps with search engines to guide crawlers to new site structure.

Monitor Traffic Sources

Check analytics to ensure traffic is migrating from old to new domain and no sources are unexpectedly dropping off.

Let It Bake

Allow time for search engines to crawl, process redirects, and adjust rankings before evaluating performance.

Troubleshooting Redirect Issues

If problems arise with domain redirection, here are some troubleshooting tips:

Review Server Logs

Checking server logs can identify configuration issues causing infinite loops, 404s or other redirect errors.

Use Redirect Checker Tools

Online redirect checkers can identify redirect problems missed in manual testing. Paste old URLs to validate correct redirects.

Reconfigure Redirects

Double check redirect syntax and carefully match redirect sources to targets as configured on your server.

Force a Crawl of Updated Sitemaps

If search engines have not yet crawled new sitemaps, force a manual crawl request to expedite updating indexed URLs.

Add Missing Redirects

Analyze 404 logs and site analytics to identify any pages/parameters still pointing incorrectly to the old domain and add redirects.

Double Check Internal Links

Ensure all internal links have been successfully updated to point to redirected pages and domain.

Disavow Links to Old Domain

If low-quality links still point to the old domain, use Google Search Console to disavow these so they do not pass authority.

Temporarily Roll Back Redirects

If redirect loops occur, you may need to temporarily roll back redirects and reimplement them incrementally to identify conflicts.


Domain redirection is a powerful technique to improve user experience by consolidating domains, migrating to new domains, fixing errors, and implementing other site changes seamlessly. By following the best practices outlined here for permanent and temporary redirects, webmasters can avoid common mistakes and successfully execute redirects for optimal search performance. Fully testing and validating all redirects is crucial to ensure visitors and search engines seamlessly transition to the new domain or URLs. With the right redirects implemented properly, you can execute domain changes smoothly and maintain user experience and search engine visibility.

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