Looking for an easier way to redirect URLs on your WordPress site? There’s no need to mess around with .htaccess, potentially breaking your website, when you use the Redirection WordPress plugin. Find out how to set up redirects the easy way in our Redirection review.
Why You Should Be Setting Up Redirects
You’ve seen them around the web: 404 Page Not Found!
It’s a frustrating experience when you can’t find the content you’re looking for.
If you’ve been blogging for any length of time, you’ve probably accumulated a number of 404 errors on your own website. That’s natural, the occasional 404 error isn’t going to ruin your site.
But if you want to keep your reader frustration to a minimum, and make sure those 404s aren’t tanking your search engine rankings, you’ve got to keep on top of them.
With automatic redirects, you can fix those 404s and keep your users happy by sending them to the content they’re looking for — not to mention keeping that link juice flowing.
When Should You Use Redirects?
Redirects shouldn’t just be reactive responses to broken links.
You can be proactive about improving user experience on your blog by setting up redirects when you:
- rename a post or page to improve SEO or better reflect the content
- update your categories or tags for better site structure
- find that another website is linking to you with an incorrect URL
- update your permalink structure
- migrate content to or from another website
- change the directory of your WordPress installation
Which Redirect Code Should You Use?
There are a number of different HTTP status codes used for redirecting web pages, all with different meanings.
Using the wrong code can have a negative effect on your search engine rankings, so be sure to choose the appropriate one for each redirect.
Redirect codes are 3 digits long and all start with a 3. The two most commonly used are:
- 301: Moved Permanently. All future requests for this URL should be sent to the new URL, and links should be updated to reflect the new location. This code passes most of the link juice (search engine ranking power) to the new URL.
- 302: Temporary Redirect. Redirects to the new URL for now, but in the future will go back to the permanent URL. Links should not be updated. This error code does NOT pass any SEO link juice.
For the situations listed above, you should use 301 redirects.
Why Should You Use a Redirect Plugin?
A simple redirect seems like it should be an easy task — but it’s trickier than you might think.
There are a few different ways to go about redirecting URLs, but the best way to do so is with your .htaccess file, a configuration file read by your server.
Modifying your .htaccess file can be tricky, because if you get one thing wrong — like a misplaced comma, misspelled word, or a space where it shouldn’t be — it can break your whole site, leading to the infamous WordPress white screen of death.
Using a plugin to manage your redirects is safer. It will also save you time, since you can add redirects right from your WordPress dashboard instead of messing with files via FTP.
How to Set Up the Redirection Plugin
After installing and activating the Redirection plugin, you can navigate to Tools » Redirection to add your first redirect.
Under Add New Redirection, you can enter the information to redirect a URL:
Just fill out the old URL under Source URL, and the new URL you’d like to redirect it to under Target URL.
If you’d like to organize your redirects in groups, click on the Groups link at the top of the page to create your groups.
By clicking on the Options link at the top of the page, you can decide how long to keep your redirect and 404 logs, import settings from an .htaccess or CSV file, or delete all your redirections.
On the 404s page, you can view a record of all recent 404 errors. You can use this log to discover common errors and redirect them to existing pages.
For more detailed information on creating redirects with the Redirection plugin see this guide on How to track 404 pages and redirect them in WordPress.
Creating Redirects With Regular Expressions
If you need to redirect a number of URLs that use the same pattern, it will save you a lot of time to use regular expressions instead of manually entering each URL. This can come in handy if you’ve relocated your whole blog and need to redirect each post, or if you’ve renamed a category or tag.
For example, if you’ve renamed “tag” to “tag2,” you could use these settings to redirect URLs using the tag:
- Source URL:
- Match: URL only
- Action: Redirect to URL
- Regex: on
- Target URL:
Every blogger will eventually need to set up redirects on their blog, and the Redirection plugin makes it much easy to manage these redirects right from your WordPress dashboard.
This free plugin is one of the most popular in the WordPress.org directory, and is very highly rated by users. Its powerful features let you easily monitor 404 errors and add redirects even with RegEx (regular expressions).
One downside to watch out for is that continuously scanning your site for 404 errors can take up a lot of server resources, potentially slowing down your website for visitors. If you prefer, you can turn off the 404 logging under the Options tab by selecting “No logs.”
Support from the developer can be lacking, but the community is fairly active in helping to resolve issues on the WordPress support forums. Though the plugin is highly rated, many requests for support go unanswered.
We give Redirection 4 out of 5 stars. Here is the breakdown of our review scores:
Ease of Use