URL redirects

If your site map is restructured and the location of your pages changes permanently, you may need to set up URL redirects.

These permanent redirects will:

  • Immediately tell search engines that the page has moved
  • Prevent pages from becoming not found (404 error)
  • Prevent potentially affecting search results for your site

If you're looking at creating short and memorable URLs, please visit the custom URLs page.

Which pages do I need to redirect?

  • Top-level navigation
  • With the highest traffic from external sources, including SFU websites (check your Google Analytics)
  • With high visibility (check Google Search Console for most popular search terms)
  • Marketed or in print publications, such as research papers
  • Most linked to directly from SFU and external sites
  • Important for the reputation of SFU/your faculty/department/school.
    For example: profile pages for well known people, labs, or projects where the page URLs may have been referred to directly from outside of your website.

What do I need to do?

  1. List all pages and the URLs falling into one of the categories above
  2. Add corresponding new URLs*
  3. Send the completed URL matrix to Communications & Marketing team for review
  4. Work with Communications & Marketing team on provided recommendations to finalize the list

*If a page has been permanently removed, add the most relevant page link instead. This will ensure that all the work achieved by your SEO previously won’t be lost and you’ll continue building on it rather than starting from scratch.

Can I do anything else apart from creating URL redirects?

There are two things you can do to improve user experience:

  • Create a custom 404 page to give users more context why the page can’t be found and refer them to your homepage and/or any key pages within your site
  • Inform other departments that you’re relaunching your site and ask them to update your website’s URLs on their sites

Can I skip listing redirects?

There are risks if you don’t create a list with old and new URLs:

  • Your old URLs will appear in Google search and users will get “page not found” until the site has been fully re-indexed by Google. The time for re-indexing is not under SFU’s direct control and can vary and may take several days
  • If users have your old URLs saved, rather than being redirected they will get “page not found”
  • Your ranking in search engines may be negatively affected for some searches because the content has moved with no equivalent replacement

How can I set up redirects?

Provide the completed URL matrix to the Communications & Marketing team when your site is ready for testing. We will request these redirects to be implemented by IT Services at the same time as as scheduling your site launch.

If you find that pages have been missed during your pre-launch phase, you can request additional redirects from IT Services at webmaster@sfu.ca. IT Services will need to know the full URL that should be redirected and the new URL that site visitors should be redirected to.