If you are managing a website or blog, sooner or later you will require to redirect some of your links. Whether you are moving your website, changing the permalinks, making changes in website structure; you can find hundred reasons of redirecting a page to some other location.
Unfortunately, WordPress does not come with built-in function for redirection. If you are not comfortable with htaccess file or don’t want to hire a professional for this; you can simply install a plugin. There are several plugins to choose from which can accomplish this task for you. However, I am a big fan of WordPress Redirection plugin and recommend you to use the same. Why? Because it is completely free and apart from simple redirection, you can actually do a lot more!
You can expect Redirection to do simple tasks like managing redirection the search engine friendly way and discovering the broken links in your website.
301 Redirects with Redirection Plugin
Let’s understand first how these tasks can be simply taken care of by Redirection plugin.
The first thing you need to do is to install and activate the plugin – you can find it here.
Once it is done, you can find the setting page of Redirection plugin in the tools menu of your Dashboard (it is not available in setting menu). Once you get into it, you will find a simple form for setting up the redirection. It goes without saying that this plugin uses 301 redirect, which is search engine friendly.
There are a few options to select from drop down lists here. But if you don’t want to get into the nitty-gritty, simply fill the two fields – Source URL and Target URL. Click on ‘Add Redirection’ and it is done!
Now test the redirection by putting the source URL in a web browser. It should happily take you to the target URL that you have defined.
A little tip to save your time here – Instead of writing the full URL like http://www.webtutorialplus.com/post-to-redirect/ you can simply put the relative path like /post-to-redirect/ and /target-url/.
If you explore the options here, you will find that apart from redirecting to the specific URL, you can also have the option to redirect to random posts, Error 404 page, pass-through or do nothing.
Pass-through is for advance users. It will redirect to the Target URL but in the address bar still show the source URL. For any reason if you want to hide the target URL from the users, you can select this option.
But why is the ‘Do nothing’ option? We will just learn about it.
Track the Hits
Redirection plugin will automatically track the number of hits to each of the redirects. This is true even for the pages you don’t want to redirect. For example, if you wish to track the number of clicks to any external link from your website, you can simply put the URL of external link in source URL text-box, leave the target URL blank and select ‘Do nothing’. This way, Redirection plugin will simply count the number of clicks.
Track and Fix 404 Error Pages
This plugin also automatically collects the list of 404 pages. All you have to do is to go to the ‘Logs’ option and you will find the date, source, referrer and IP address related to 404 Errors. From the list itself, you can define the new redirect. Just click on the plus button and define the target URL.
If you don’t want some of the links to appear in this list, you can simply click on plus button and select ‘Do nothing’ from the drop down. You may also like to go to the ‘Options’ to change the ‘Expire Logs’ setting. It would be a good idea to define some reasonable time like 30 days for this otherwise the list will keep on growing to an exceptionally large number.
Life Saver for hiding Affiliate Links
One of the great uses of Redirection plugin is to hide the affiliate links. You surely don’t want to display the affiliate links like http://www.affiliatesite.com/aff/your-affiliate-id in the status bar. Rather it will look beautiful to use something like http://www.yourwebsite/recommended/product. Do this magic by adding another redirection rule. Bonus here is you can track the number of clicks on these affiliate links!
As you can see, there can be several types of redirects requirement for your website. Will it not be nice you can group the similar redirections together? Well, Redirection plugin gives you this flexibility also. Click on the ‘Groups’ from the options and you will be able to create a new group. Now you can organize your redirects in various groups and track the number of hits.
You may like to create separate groups for page movements, external links, errors, affiliates and so on.
User friendly titles
Here is the last tip! Once you have created the redirect, click on it to edit. Now you can use any user friendly name in the title field. This way, it will be easier for you to track your redirections.
As you can see, you can actually do a lot more other than the page redirect with WordPress redirection plugin. It is really simple to use and automatically does hits count and 404 tracking for you.
If you wish to read more about the advanced or looking for a support, you can visit the user documentation here. This is one of the most have WordPress plugins once your website or blog turns up large!