A redirection consists in the change of a request to one web address into another web address. It is implemented in order to ensure the site consistency and prevent broken links.
Redirections can be used to cater for different circumstances:
- When an entire site is relocated;
- When one or more individual pages are moved and/or deleted and/or changed name;
- To provide a shorter URL.
Site relocation is the act of moving a whole site from one place to another, in other words: the base address of the site is changed. In general, such a move goes together with a complete overhaul of the site, so that most of the pages are changed or at least change name. In this case, it is impossible to map individual old pages to their corresponding new equivalents and a general redirection will be implemented at the level of the server. Access to any pages at or below the old address of the home page of the site in question is automatically redirected to the home page of the new site.
Individual page redirection
When only a limited number of pages need to be redirected and an exact mapping of the old address to the new one is necessary, the redirection should be handled at the level of the individual page.
In this case, the page (or pages) at the old address is replaced by a new page (or pages) which contains a link to the desired page at its new location. This new page also contains a standard message indicating "The File you accessed does not exist anymore".
Redirection to a shorter URL
For promotional reasons, a direct URL under "europa.eu" or "ec.europa.eu" can be allocated, which will then redirect to the site that is to be promoted. The use of promotional urls should not be abused because the proliferation of high level addresses will cause organisational difficulties for managing them and may slow down the server.
A URL may be allocated if the following conditions are met:
- the site will exist only for a limited period of time;
- the site is being created for a particular event;
- the site is the subject of a major promotion campaign;
- the subject of the site is a major programme managed by the Commission.
More information on the use of promotional urls is given in the chapter "Site types".
Redirection to shorter urls are implemented by means of a 'Flexible redirection'.
Different ways to set up a redirection
There are many ways to set up a redirection. Although they all have the same result, they are interpreted differently by search engines. The main ways are:
Flexible redirection - can be activated for pages "not found"
Among the consequences for users of site restructuring are the appearance of broken links, in particular in their "Favorites". The flexible redirection system set up by DIGIT enables users to control redirection themselves more precisely than automatic redirection. This system can only be used to redirect users from pages that do not exist. It is often used to intercept the non-existence of particular language versions of a page. It can also be used for creating new short urls that don't correspond to actual real addresses. The flexible redirection system does not work with dynamic pages.
Redirection by the server
- configured to direct the user to a new address - automatic redirection
This enables the server to systematically redirect all lower-level addresses within a site to one particular address, generally the home page of another site. It can only be set up by the Data Centre (Informatics DG) and the name of the new address must be authorised by the EUROPA team
e.g. http://www.europa.eu/section/chapitre2/ to http://www.europa.eu/section2/
Automatic redirection cannot be used to redirect between individual pages; it only redirects a complete set of pages within a site to the homepage of another site. For individual page redirection, one must use manual redirection. Even for general redirections, the use of redirection at server level is not recommended; flexible redirection should be preferred because it allows more flexibility.
Redirection at the user end
This involves inserting the following instruction in the HTML code of the page from which you want to redirect users:
<META name="robots" content="noindex, nofollow">
<meta http-equiv="refresh" content="5;url=http://xxx.xx/xxx/xxx">
The "5" indicates the number of seconds before the new URL is loaded. Replace "<http://xxx.xx/xxx/xxx>" with the absolute URL of the new page.
How to create redirection pages?
- Arrange the physical transfer of the pages from the migrating site to their new location;
- Issue a redirection request indicating the old address to which references are received, and the new address to which these references are to be forwarded.
Individual page redirection
- Replace the previous content by producing a new page containing the desired redirection message plus a link to the desired page at its new address. Example of the redirection page can be found in the Library section.
- Proceed with the transfer to the production server of the new content, and the old page content at the new location.
How to request a redirection
Follow the procedure described on the page Web address - redirection.
Work guidelines and references
- Flexible redirections guide (DIGIT)