One common issue we find when doing SEO audits of web sites is that the incorrect server status codes are used; and there are too many redirects or the wrong redirect types are used. It may seem simple enough, but it is surprises what a different server status codes can make to a web sites overall health in search engines. There are a few rules of thumb to keep in mind:
- Only one version of your web site should have a 200 Web Site Found server status, otherwise it can lead to duplicate content issues. i.e. www.google.com has a server status of 200, while google.com (note: no www.) has a server status of 301 (moved permanently).
- When redirecting pages within a site, use 301 permanent redirects. This will enable you to pass on the link equity to the new page.
- Try not to use 302 temporary redirects. It does not pass on link equity to the new page in most cases. Read more about 301 vs 302 server statuses on http://moz.com/blog/save-your-website-with-redirects (SEOMOZ blog, June 18, 2013).
- When you take down a page, always add a 404 page not found server status to the URL. Otherwise search engines may think the page still exists somewhere and it’ll contaminate the index of your web site.
Have no idea what your server status codes are? Go to http://www.seologic.com/webmaster-tools/url-redirect and enter your URL.