This reference guide will provide information to assist in the creation and maintenance of IEEE redirects. In order to secure IEEE's future as a trusted domain, the following steps must be taken. These guidelines will not only ensure the best result from search engines, but will also improve visitor retention and overall engagement with the content.
The objectives of these guidelines are to:
- drive visitors and search engines via properly formulated redirects to IEEE content on IEEE.org or other IEEE-related sites from vanity domains, short-term campaigns, short URLs, retired URLs, and related misspellings;
- implement redirects in an optimal way for search engine optimization (SEO);
- address any ignored SEO issues relating to content duplication through the application of new redirects.
When to use redirects
- specialized print or email campaigns that cannot use long/full length URLs;
- web content directs to a 404 ("Page not found") message when accessed;
- a page is deleted or moved to another location within a site;
- maintaining the search engine ranking of established content.
Use short and simple URLs
Try to make both the redirect and the destination URL as short and simple as possible. Short URLs are clicked more often in search results. Specifically, a MarketingSherpa study showed that short URLs are clicked on from Google search results over twice as often as long URLs. Applying a “301 Moved Permanently” redirect to a long URL defeats the purpose in terms of findability because Google will show the long destination URL in the search listing rather than the redirect URL
Good redirect example:
Bad redirect example:
Keywords and hyphens
- Try to use keywords in the redirect URL, and separate the words with hyphens. Keywords should describe the content being presented - users are more likely to click on it.
- Minimize the number of keywords used in the URL. Too many keywords looks like keyword stuffing to Google. Aim for five words or less (i.e. <5 hyphens), as recommended by Google’s Matt Cutts.
- There is no set rule in terms of character count, just try to keep it relatively short.
- Avoid using underscores to separate words. Hyphens are preferable for SEO because they break the URL into keywords. This is according to Google’s Matt Cutts instructions. This only pertains to new URLs. The SEO benefit from changing old URLs is very minimal.
- Avoid running words together without hyphens, unless in the domain name itself. This is because the search engines won’t see the separate words. This doesn’t apply to domain names because the search engines look at domain names differently than the rest of the URL. Even so, it’s still not a good practice to use hyphens in a domain name. Users aren’t likely to remember domain names with hyphens in them.
- Don’t worry about updating underscores in existing URLs. It’s not significant enough to affect search engines.
Avoid unnecessary redirects
If goals can be achieved without a redirect, that is preferable, because redirects do not transfer 100% of PageRank to the destination URL.
301 redirect vs. 302 redirects
- A 301 redirect means that the page has moved to a new location, permanently. A 302 redirect means that the move is temporary.
- The 301 style redirect is preferred over 302. This is because PageRank does not transfer to the destination URL through a 302, only a 301. An example of a use case for a 302 redirect would be when the destination URL is going to change constantly (like if a unique session ID is appended each time) or we want a shorter URL in the search results.
Redirects should never expire
- All redirects must be maintained (even beyond the life of the content) to protect the PageRank flowing into the redirect URLs from inbound links. Removing a redirect will eradicate any PageRank associated with that redirect URL, which is detrimental to IEEE’s search engine rankings. This means that redirects should never be deleted. Redirects to non-existent content should be updated to point to real content, otherwise the PageRank will be lost.
- Use a 302 redirect whenever the destination URL is too long or contains a session ID. This puts the short URL in the search engine results page instead of the long URL users are not likely to click on.
- For example, the link "http://www.example.com/feature" would more likely be clicked than "http://www.example.com/deep/feature/page?last=root&sessid=909345AF2343".
- In order to avoid PageRank dilution when using a 302 redirect, the destination page should have a canonical tag pointing back to the short URL.
Maintain stable, consistent URLs
An annual event, like a conference, should have a stable URL that doesn’t change from year to year. This is true of both the redirect URL and the destination URL. When the current edition is to be retired and replaced with a new edition, assign a new URL to the archived edition. Do not redirect to the archived edition. Instead let the PageRank accumulate year-after-year to the stable, evergreen URL. Otherwise, PageRank earned over time is not carried over to future years’ editions. For example, ieeeabc.org can leverage PageRank from links to past years’ ABC conferences, whereas ieeeabc2011.org cannot.
Exercise care if you must redirect outside of IEEE.org
- IEEE.org is a highly trusted domain by Google. Leverage IEEE.org's domain authority by maintaining content and redirects on IEEE.org, rather than redirecting to sites outside of IEEE.org (whenever possible).
- If you must redirect to a domain outside of IEEE.org, the destination URL must be monitored over time to ensure it does not change ownership. External domains expire over time and can be acquired by domain squatters and other companies not affiliated with IEEE.