Samiksha Hiwase | 6 Min Read | July  07, 2020

Avoid URL Redirects To Load Your Site Faster

1. Overview

When you keep a watch on the speed optimization of your site then it will add more benefits to your business. If your pages load quickly then visitors will stay at your site and they will also get converted to the paying customer.
URL redirects can be used to redirect traffic from one web page to another. When you change a URL on your Shopify store, you can create a URL redirect to ensure your customers can still find what they are looking for.
For example, if you delete a product, you can set up a URL redirect so that when customers enter the URL for that product, they are redirected to a similar product on your store.
In this blog, you will find what are URL redirects, redirects in Shopify’s settings, avoid all redirects – except for some, how do redirects slow down your site,and how redirection works.

2. What are the URL Redirects?

A ‘Redirect’ is done when a website moves a web page from one location to another. Redirects are a method or a way that automatically takes users from one file location to another. They are accomplished in many ways. Each way has a bad effect on your page speed.
URL redirects(also known as 301 redirects) transfer traffic from one URL to another. If you want to move from an old site to Shopify then you use URL redirects. The speed of your site performance issues occurs due to too many redirects on your site.
A 301 redirect refers to a page that has been permanently moved, or redirected, to a different URL.
301 redirects are key to maintaining a website’s domain authority and search rankings when the site’s URL is changed for any reason. They will send a search engine or visitor to a different destination. You can add the URL redirects for all old links associated with your domain products, collections, blog articles, and pages.

3. Redirects in Shopify’s Settings

Setting up redirects in Shopify is relatively simple.
  1. From your Shopify Admin, go to Online Stores -> Navigation
  2. Then click on URL Redirects.
  3. Click on Add a Redirect URL to create new redirect URL
  • Here you can choose to create individual redirects or import a CSV to look after the redirects in bulk.
  • If you click on the “Create URL redirect” button, you will be taken to this screen as shown below, where you can simply paste the old URL, and paste the new site URL you like it to direct to.
  • You can rather upload a CSV file and redirect multiple pages at once, (which is typically much more efficient), click on the “Import redirects” link, and you will be taken to a screen where you can upload your CSV file.
Having some comfort with Excel or Google Sheets will make your life much easier when it comes to formatting your CSV for import. Regardless of which platform you are migrating from, you should be able to export a spreadsheet of all of your current URLs.
You can then individually paste in the corresponding new URL in a separate column, or, if you are comfortable using spreadsheet formulas, you can make inputting the new URLs more efficiently. Once you have a CSV file with the old URLs matched up to the new ones, your file is ready for import.

A Sample URL Redirect CSV File

You can make a URL redirect CSV file to use as a template. You utilize the CSV file for importing more than one URL redirects in the Shopify.
Here is one sample of CSV file as shown below:-

4. Avoid All Redirects – Except For Some

If possible, do not use any Redirection methods at all on your web pages. Sometimes, however, you just can not go without them.
One example is the 301 non-www to www redirection most websites use nowadays. This redirection is often necessary because it tells Google and other search engines which URL (www or non-www) they should take as your domain’s default URL.
If you do not use any redirects, you are serving your content significantly faster. Redirects are likely the one single most time-waster in your code especially when you consider mobile networks. It also affects your SEO rankings as the speed of your loading pages becomes slow.
They dramatically affect your page speed in a noticeably bad way. So, it is better to avoid the URL redirects for all your webpages except for some pages.

5. How do Redirects Slow Down Your Site?

When using a redirect, the browser of the user does not directly connect to the destination the user eventually goes to. It first has to connect to the redirect before it reaches the final destination. This slows down the process of reaching the final destination because the user reaches it indirectly instead of directly.
Redirects mainly affect mobile users as they are using less reliable mobile networks than desktop users. When you consider mobile networks redirects are likely the one single most time waster. Redirects directly affect your page speed in a noticeably bad way. If you do not make use of redirects then you are serving your content significantly faster.
Always remember that redirects harm your site performance and create speed issues. If you avoid redirect or clean up that will make your pages load faster and can also help in SEO ranking.

6. How do the Redirecting of URL Works

When a user is trying to access content that has been moved permanently or temporarily he will be redirected using the status codes 301 and 302 respectively. The HTTP headers will look like this:
HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently
Location: http://example.com/new
Content-Type: text/html
The location is the new URL to which the user is being redirected and the content-type shows what content he is trying to access.
Using URL redirects will delay page loading as the page cannot be rendered until the HTML document has been received from the webserver. One of the most common redirects is the missing trailing slash one.
If the directory where the content is situated ends with a slash but the clickable URL does not contain the slash the user will be redirected to the correct URL with a slash at the end.
For example, trying to access http://example.com/contentview will result in a 301 response that will have the redirect location set to http://example.com/contentview/
Remember, one incorrect symbol in the URL can almost double the loading time of a page in such cases.

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