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URL Redirect

Definition - What does URL Redirect mean?

A URL redirect is a webserver function that sends a user from one URL to another. Redirects commonly take the form of an automated redirect that uses one of a series of status codes defined within the HTTP protocol.

There are several types of redirects available to Web developers, including manual redirects, HTTP 3xx series status codes, server-side scripts, JavaScript, frame redirects and metatag refreshes.

A URL redirect may also be known as an HTTP code 3xx redirect, URL forwarding, domain redirection and domain forwarding.

Techopedia explains URL Redirect

Web users may be redirected from one URL to another for a variety of reasons, including:

  • A change of business name
  • A merger of two websites
  • To direct traffic toward recently updated content
  • To direct content to a recently updated domain name
  • Landing page-split testing for marketing tests

Redirects can also be used for nefarious activities such as phishing or other attempts to cause problems for users and their computers. Redirects have also been used to subvert the results of search engine queries, but most search engines are now able to detect such attempts.

The various HTTP protocol 3xx series codes are the most common way to redirect a Web page and are embedded in the HTML of the page. Members of this series have the following attributes:

  • 300 offers multiple redirect choices. For example, alternative languages can be selected.
  • 301 is when a site is moved permanently, such as when a business's name changes.
  • 302 is for an unspecified redirect.
  • 303 displays or acts on the results of common gateway interface (CGI) scripts
  • 307 is used for temporary redirect, such as when a site is being redesigned.

When a website visitor is redirected to a newly named website domain, the website address acquires a new URL. Businesses often transform their website’s original home page into a redirect page with a concurrent message briefly describing the redirect. Behind the scenes, a meta refresh tag is embedded into the website’s source code. Without a redirect, regular website visitors would receive a "404 - Not Found" error message.

Redirection can take place via a redirection service that operates through software to bring shorter link names to users. Permalinks are a type of redirection service.

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