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Remove Website Redirects: Best Practices, Step-by-Step Guide

Introduction to Redirects Before We Remove Website Redirects

Redirects are a fundamental aspect of website management. They ensure seamless user experiences and maintain SEO value when URLs change. This section will explore why removing website redirects is sometimes necessary to optimize performance and SEO efficiency.

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Understanding the Basics of Redirects

A website redirect occurs when a web page is relocated to a different URL, automatically directing search engines and your visitors to a new location. This mechanism helps maintain user experience by preventing encounters with dead links. It contributes to SEO efforts by transferring link equity to the new URL. However, inappropriate or outdated redirects can degrade website performance, highlighting the need to review and remove website redirects periodically.

Types of Redirects Commonly Used

There are several types of redirects, each serving specific purposes within web development and SEO. The most commonly used are 301 and 302 redirects. A 301 means a web page moved permanently, telling search engines that the original URL has changed permanently, which is essential for fully transferring ranking power. A 302 redirect is specified for temporary changes, informing search engines that the original URL will eventually be reinstated. Understanding when and how to use each type of redirect is critical in maintaining site performance and achieving optimal SEO outcomes.

Read More about Redirects in SEO

You can read more about redirects in Redirects in the SEO guide of our Complete SEO Guide Box.

The Importance of Using Redirects

Correctly utilizing redirects is crucial for any website’s overall health and effectiveness. They not only guide users to the content they are looking for, even if its location has changed but also play a pivotal role in maintaining and enhancing SEO outcomes. Careful management of when to implement or remove website redirects can significantly affect a site’s accessibility and search engine ranking.

Improving User Experience

Redirects significantly enhance the user experience by ensuring visitors can access content without encountering broken links. For example, suppose a website restructures its URL architecture or moves to a new domain. In that case, redirects prevent frustration and confusion by guiding users to the correct pages seamlessly. This consistency is critical to retaining visitors, reducing bounce rates, and increasing overall satisfaction, indirectly boosting SEO performance.

Preserving SEO Value During Changes

When a website undergoes modifications such as URL changes or content relocations, redirects are essential to preserve the SEO value accumulated over time. Implementing a 301 redirect, for instance, can pass the majority of link equity from an old page to a new one, maintaining the site’s authority and search rankings. This strategy is vital during site migrations or significant updates to ensure that changes enhance rather than diminish search engine visibility and ranking. Please read our guide on Using Redirects While Removing Posts.

Why and When to Remove Website Redirects?

Removing website redirects at the right time is as crucial as implementing them correctly. It enhances site performance, improves user experience, and boosts SEO effectiveness. Here, we discuss various scenarios and why it is necessary to remove website redirects, ensuring your website remains efficient and competitive.

Complex Site Architecture with Existing Accumulated Redirects

Accumulated redirects that are currently implemented can significantly complicate website and URL management. Over time, as redirects pile up, they create a complex web of pathways that can be difficult to track and manage effectively. Each additional redirect introduces potential points of failure and complicates the route data must travel from server to user, leading to an increased likelihood of errors and misdirection. This complexity makes maintaining a clean, straightforward site architecture challenging and essential for user navigation, efficient search engine crawling, and the site manager. Regularly auditing and taking action to remove website redirects that no longer serve a useful purpose can greatly simplify URL management, ensuring that both users and search engines experience optimal performance and accessibility.

Accumulation of Redirect Chains

Redirect chains occur when multiple redirects lead from the source URL to the middle destination URLs to the final destination URL. These chains can severely slow page loading times and complicate search engines and users’ paths. Removing or consolidating these chains simplifies the user path, decreases load times, and maintains a cleaner site architecture. This way, search engines will easily crawl and index content.

For example, consider a popular product page on an e-commerce site that initially had the URL /products/widget1. Over time, the product is renamed, and the URL changes to /products/widget-pro. If later the site undergoes a rebranding and the URL changes again to /gear/widget-pro, a redirect chain forms: first from /products/widget1 to /products/widget-pro, and then from /products/widget-pro to /gear/widget-pro. Each user or search engine bot visiting the original URL has to go through two redirects to reach the current page, which can slow down the loading time and complicate the crawling process, ultimately negatively affecting the site’s performance and rankings.

To consolidate, you must remove the existing redirection chain and directly redirect /products/widget1 to /gear/widget-pro.

Speed and Performance Issues

Redirects, particularly overused or improperly implemented, can significantly hinder website speed and performance. Each redirect introduces an additional HTTP request-response cycle, potentially increasing page load time. Regular audits to remove website redirects that are no longer necessary or that could be replaced with a more direct solution can significantly enhance site speed and improve user satisfaction.

SEO and Indexing Challenges

Excessive or improperly managed redirects can confuse search engines and impact a website’s indexing and SEO performance. Search engines might spend more time crawling redirects than actual content, which can dilute the crawl budget and delay the indexing of new content. Cleaning up unnecessary redirects can help search engines index the site’s content efficiently and maximize SEO potential.

After Completing Website Migrations

Once a website migration is complete and the new site structure is stable, reviewing and often removing temporary redirects set up during the transition is essential. This step is crucial to avoid unnecessary redirects that could confuse users and search engines, potentially harming the site’s SEO and usability.

When Redirects Lead to Non-Existent Pages

Redirects pointing to non-existent pages (404 errors) create poor user experiences and waste crawl budgets as search engines attempt to index unavailable content. Regularly auditing and removing these redirects or updating them to point to relevant, existing pages helps maintain a healthy, navigable website structure.

Cleaning Up Temporary Redirects

Temporary redirects (302s) are often used during short-term changes or while permanent content is being developed. Removing or converting these to permanent redirects (301s) is important once their purpose is fulfilled. This cleanup prevents confusion for search engines and users and consolidates SEO value in the correct, intended location.

How Redirects Affect Website Performance

Redirects, while crucial for navigating changes in website structure, can profoundly impact a website’s performance. These can affect your website from a navigational perspective regarding server response and page loading speeds. Monitoring and optimizing redirects are vital steps in ensuring your site remains fast and efficient, supporting the goal of removing website redirects that are unnecessary or harmful.

Impact on Page Load Time

Redirects inherently add additional HTTP requests every time a user navigates a URL that has been moved. Each redirect can delay the page from loading because the server must process the redirect before fetching the actual page content. For instance, if a visitor hits an old link that redirects twice before reaching the current content, the page load time increases with each redirect. This may lead to bounce rates and decreased user satisfaction, making it imperative to remove website redirects that are no longer strictly necessary. Read more about Website Speed Basics in SEO.

Server Load Considerations

Each redirect also imposes an additional load on the server. When a server frequently has to handle requests that involve multiple redirects, it can lead to increased server load and higher resource consumption. This is particularly significant for high-traffic websites where even minimal delays can compound and lead to substantial performance degradation. Optimizing these redirects or removing unnecessary ones can significantly reduce server load, enhance server response times, and streamline user access to content.

Analyzing Redirects for Removal

To maintain an efficient and streamlined website, it is essential to periodically review and potentially remove website redirects that no longer serve a valuable purpose. This process not only aids in enhancing site performance but also improves SEO and user experience. Here, we explore the tools and methods used to identify unnecessary redirects and evaluate their impact on your website.

Check the Tools you Use to Setup Redirects

If you already use tools and plugins to set up redirects, check them to see the current list. Since we use the Yoast SEO Premium plugin in our SEO Guide Box, navigate to your WordPress dashboard’s Yoast SEO Premium Redirects page. This section of Yoast SEO Premium lists all the redirects that have been set up through the plugin. Each entry displays the source URL and the target URL, along with the type of redirect (e.g., 301, 302). This interface allows you to quickly review and manage the redirects directly from your admin panel, helping to streamline removing website redirects that are no longer necessary or negatively impacting your site. This direct access through a familiar tool simplifies maintaining an efficient, well-optimized website.

Tools and Techniques for Identifying Redirects

Suppose you want to find all the redirects, even those not set up through your plugin. In that case, several tools can assist in the process of removing website redirects by helping identify them across your site. Web crawling tools like Screaming Frog SEO Spider, Sitebulb, or SEMrush can scan your entire website to map out all active redirects. These tools provide detailed reports showing each redirect’s origin and destination, whether they lead to correct pages, and whether they form part of a redirect chain. Using these insights, you can pinpoint problematic redirects that need attention.

Evaluating the Necessity of Existing Redirects

Once redirects are identified, the next step is to evaluate their necessity. This involves analyzing the purpose of each redirect, whether they lead to relevant content and their impact on site performance. Considerate these critical factors: the age of the redirect, traffic data to the redirected URLs, and the SEO value of the pages involved. Suppose a redirect no longer serves a high-traffic page or has become obsolete due to site updates. In that case, it may be a prime candidate for removal to simplify the site’s structure and improve overall efficiency.

Best Practices for Removing Redirects Safely

Removing website redirects can be as impactful as implementing them, requiring careful planning and execution to avoid negatively affecting your site’s SEO and user experience. By adhering to best practices for safely removing redirects, you can ensure that changes enhance rather than disrupt your website’s performance.

Planning and Documenting Changes

Before removing website redirects, planning each step cautiously and documenting all changes is crucial. Start by creating a comprehensive map of all redirects currently implemented, noting their purpose and importance. Evaluate each redirect’s necessity based on traffic levels, conversion rates, and relevance. Documenting these details helps make informed decisions and provides an apparent reference for the implications of removing specific redirects. This documentation will also be invaluable for future audits or if you need to revert any changes.

Gradual Removal and Monitoring

It’s advisable to proceed gradually when removing redirects and monitor the effects closely. Start by removing a small number of low-impact redirects and observe any changes in traffic or SEO rankings. This way, you can gauge the impact of each removal without risking significant disruptions to your site’s performance. Some critical metrics you should monitor are page load times, bounce rates, and search engine crawl rates. Adjust your approach based on these observations to ensure that removing redirects enhances overall site efficiency and maintains a positive user experience.

Impact of Redirect Removal on SEO

Removing website redirects can significantly impact SEO in the short term and over the long haul. It’s essential to weigh these impacts carefully to ensure the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. This process should align closely with SEO strategies and goals, maintaining or improving the site’s visibility and effectiveness in search engine results.

Short-Term Implications

In the short term, removing redirects can lead to fluctuations in search rankings. As search engines re-crawl and re-index the website, they must adjust to the new paths and any missing redirects. This can temporarily affect the SEO performance, mainly if the removed redirects handle significant traffic or link to critical pages. Monitoring these changes closely is crucial, and using analytics to track any traffic or rankings drops and quickly address any adverse effects that exceed initial expectations.

Long-Term Benefits for SEO

Over the long term, strategically removing unnecessary redirects can significantly benefit SEO. By eliminating outdated or redundant redirects, you improve site speed and reduce server load, factors that are positively viewed by search engines. Moreover, cleaning up redirect chains can enhance the accuracy of link equity distribution across your site, ensuring that valuable page authority is not diluted but instead concentrated on relevant, live pages. These improvements help streamline site architecture so search engines can easily crawl the site, boosting SEO performance.

Redirect Management Strategies

Effective management of redirects is essential to maintain an optimized, user-friendly website while maximizing SEO potential. Developing strategies to decide when to implement or remove website redirects and how to keep their efficiency ensures that your website remains robust and performs well in search engine rankings.

When to Implement or Maintain Redirects

Implement or maintain redirects whenever you restructure your website, move to a new domain, or permanently change a page’s URL. These redirects are vital for preventing 404 errors and seamlessly guiding users and search engines to the correct content locations. Maintaining permanent redirects is also crucial when the redirected pages have inherited significant backlinks or have historical SEO value that benefits the current site structure. Careful consideration and strategic planning in these scenarios ensure that user experience and SEO strength are preserved.

Maintaining Redirect Efficiency and Relevance

Regularly audit your website’s redirect map to maintain redirect efficiency and relevance. Remove outdated or unnecessary redirects that no longer serve the intended purpose or lead to irrelevant pages. Also, check for redirect chains or loops that could harm site performance and user experience. Updating your redirect strategy ensures that your website remains fast, user-friendly, and highly responsive to new and returning visitors. This proactive approach helps sustain an efficient traffic flow and conserves SEO authority across your site’s pages.

How to Remove Website Redirects: Step-by-Step

We will use the WordPress Yoast SEO plugin’s Premium Redirects feature to manage the redirects, Google Search Console to analyze the current status of the URLs, Plausible Analytics to understand the current traffic of the URLs, and Dr Link Check to check for the broken links after we remove redirects. You should know the process should be similar if you use other redirection management and analysis tools.

The Idea

The idea is to analyze the old source URL you created the redirect for and see if other sites are using it and if it is still in the Google index. In addition, we will check if Google indexed the destination’s new URL properly. These checks will help us understand that the old URL is already irrelevant and not being used by anyone, and the new URL is good to be left alone as is without redirections.

If any sites use the old link, redirection can’t be removed. Of course, you can ask the website support/manager to change the old link to the new one to remove the redirection.

The same goes for the old URL, which is still in the Google index. Google automatically removes the redirected (old source) page from its index since it is no longer relevant and exchanges it with the destination page. So, if the old URL is still in the index, it is better to wait another month to let Google crawler make the relevant changes. If the old URL is still indexed after a month, contact support to fix the issue.

Suppose Google does not index the new (target redirect) URL. In that case, you should understand why it is happening before removing the redirect. It can be related to the previous issue when the old URL was still indexed, and the crawler didn’t have time to visit both pages. In most cases, if there is a problem with the new destination URL, you will see the problem description in Google Search Console, and you should take appropriate measures to get it indexed. Try to Understand Google Search Console Page Statuses and read Fixing Google Search Console Crawled – currently not indexed issue.

Next, checking traffic with an analytic tool to the old source URL for an appropriate period is essential. It depends on you which period is enough to understand that the old URL is not being visited. But as a rule of thumb, the last two years should be enough.

Finally, you can remove the redirect and clean the site cache if everything is fine. After that, you must check for all the broken links on your site if you used an old URL instead of a new one.


  • Login to your WordPress Dashboard and log in to Google Search Console and Plausible Analytics in other tabs.
  • In WordPress, navigate to the Yoast SEO Redirect feature: on the left side menu, hover over [Yoast SEO], then click [Redirects (Premium)].
  • In Plausible Analytics, navigate to your website’s analytics.
  • Filter the analytics visibility by the appropriate time range for which you want to analyze the source old redirected URL. You should find a time filter in the top right corner of the analytic widget called “Filter.”
  • Find the “Top Pages” widget and click the [DETAILS] at the bottom of the widget.
  • A JavaScript window with “Top Pages” will open in the current tab. Scroll the page to the bottom. Click the [Load more] button. Continue scrolling to the bottom and clicking the button until the button no longer reappears. This will load all the URLs users navigated on your website for the specified period.
  • Navigate to Yoast SEO Redirects and identify the redirect line you want to remove with the Old and New URLs.
  • Right-click the Old URL and [Copy link].
  • In Google Search Console, on the top, you will see a search box labeled ‘Inspect any URL in “yourdomain.com,”‘ paste the old URL there and press [Enter].
  • It will navigate you to the “URL inspection” section. The top widget should state “URL is not on Google” if everything is fine. If it is still in the index, you should understand why and remove the page from it.
  • Go back to the Yoast SEO Premium Redirects page and do the same check for the New URL of the redirection you want to remove. This time, the Google Search Console should state, “URL is on Google.” You must fix the situation before removing the redirection if it is not on Google.
  • Now, copy the URI of the old URL. For example, if your URL is https://www.yourdomain.com/category/your-old-post, you must copy only the /category/your-old-post section. Navigate to the tab with “Top Pages” of the Plausible Analytics and search (typically [CTRL]+[F]) for the URI.
  • If it wasn’t found, it is good. This means no one browsed the old URL in the specified time range, and we can safely remove the redirection.
  • If the old URL was found, click it. At the top of this URL’s analytics page, you will see all the times this URL was browsed. Now, you must decide if the last time it was accessed or the number of times is enough to remove the redirection. If it was accessed numerous times, you should not remove it. Find the “Top Sources” widget, and at the bottom of the widget, click [DETAILS] to see all the websites that accessed this URL. Now, try contacting them to change the old URL to the new one. When they approve of the change, you should take several months or another year to check this window to see if it happened. Then, decide if you’re ready to remove the redirection.
  • When you are ready to remove the redirection, navigate to the Yoast SEO Premium Redirects page and hover over the redirect you want to remove. You will see that on the left of the redirect line will appear the “Delete” link. Click it.
  • Clear all the caches you use on your website.
  • Navigate to the Dr Link Check website, input yourdomain.com, and click [Start Check]. In the “Overview” tab, you will see the “Issue Types” widget, which will indicate if you have any broken links. If you do, explore it to find the Posts with broken URLs that you need to fix because we removed the redirects.

Conclusion: Optimizing Redirect Strategy

Optimizing your redirect strategy is essential for maintaining a site that ranks high and delivers a great user experience. The key to successful SEO and website management involves knowing when to implement redirects and removing website redirects that are no longer beneficial.

Recap of Key Points

We’ve discussed the importance of implementing redirects to improve user experience and preserve SEO value during changes and the critical reasons and optimal times for removing them. Analyzing the impact of redirects on website performance, such as speed and server load, is essential. Moreover, employing best practices for safely removing redirects and managing them efficiently ensures they continue to support, rather than hinder, your site’s objectives.

Looking Ahead: Future Redirect Management

Continuous monitoring and regular audits of your redirect strategy are crucial. Keeping up-to-date on how redirects affect your site’s performance and SEO will enable you to make informed decisions about modifications to your redirect plan. Staying proactive in this management will help ensure your website remains streamlined, relevant, and optimized for search engines and users. This forward-thinking approach is critical to maintaining an effective online presence in an ever-evolving digital landscape.

The current article is "10.1. Remove Website Redirects" of our Complete SEO Guide Box.
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