How to Properly Use Redirects with WP Engine Hosting

If you use WP Engine hosting, the normal 301 redirect inside the .htaccess file may yield unpredictable results. I have actually lost quite a few redirects that were somehow erased without my knowledge. 

Per the WPEngine website,

Using .htaccess or redirection plugins will not handle all redirects because they sit on the Apache layer and thus only redirect requests handled via Apache.

You need to remove your redirects from .htaccess and paste them into a master list file. One you have a master list created for historical record, add individual redirects within the Manage WordPress > Redirects tab inside your account.

But save a master list of redirects in a Google Docs file or somewhere else you will always have access to. If you ever have to switch hosts, you don’t want to lose this data. So anytime you create a new redirect moving forward, add it to your master list at the same time you create a new redirect inside the WPEngine dashboard.

If you’ve moved to hosting in the past year, and you’re not sure whether all of your old redirects are working, I recommend using a free broken link checker. This free tool will crawl your site and report back to you a list of broken links that need to be fixed.

Why would fixing old broken links be so important?

Broken links cause a host of issues for your business, but here are the top three which concern me most:

1. Broken links can cost you rankings.

A website that has broken links looks to be lacking proper maintenance, which Google and other search engines could interpret to mean it is an old, out-of-date, less relevant website.

2. Broken links prevent users from gaining important information.

This will cost you money, readers, and connections. It’s a usability no-no. You don’t want an impatient user giving up because they can’t finish the purchase or read the information they need to make an important decision. Broken links cost you customers.

3. Broken links cost you reputation.

No one trusts a site that looks outdated and broken. You’ll get fewer links, fewer referrals, fewer people praising or sharing your business. It’s like smelling bad with wrinkled clothes at a job interview. You won’t get on anyone’s good side by looking lazy and unkempt. If it’s worth your time to have a website, it’s worth your time to keep it running properly.

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