Manage 404 Errors and URL Redirections in WordPress with this free plugin

Redirection is the most popular redirection manager plugin for WordPress. It has more than 2 million active installations and is 100% free.

With the help of this plugin, you can keep track of 404 errors and easily redirect them to other pages. Reducing website errors may improve your site rankings.

You can install this free plugin from your WordPress Dashboard. Open the Add New page in the Plugins section. Search for Redirection. It will probably be the first result.

When you activate the plugin, a notification will ask you to complete the setup process.

I recommend ticking the first two boxes: Monitor permalink changes in posts and pages, and Keep a log of all redirects and 404 errors. Storing the IP is not needed for most users and is probably not worth the hassle.

Click Continue Setup.

This page will automatically test if the WordPress REST API is enabled on your website. In most cases you should see the green light.
But there are some WordPress plugins that disable it, so you will have to look into it if you get an error on this page.

Click Finish Setup and then click on Finished. You will be redirected to the plugin’s page in the Tools section.

It is important to mention that the Setup Wizard contains only some basic options. The plugin itself has a few more that you should look into.

In the Site panel you can find some important options that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Be careful with them.

You can Relocate your Site by redirecting all pages to a different domain and you can create Site Aliases.

You can force redirects from HTTP to HTTPS. Do this only when you have an SSL certificate for your domain.

You can set a preferred domain version, with or without www. You should do this only once, preferably when you’re creating your website. Changing from one version to another may have a negative effect on your site rankings.

In the Options panel, you can support this plugin with a donation using PayPal. The smallest amount is $16.

Here you can select the duration of your redirect and 404 logs. I tend to keep redirect logs for a week and the 404 logs for a month, with no IP logging.

I Track redirect hits and date of last access.

During the Setup Process I enabled the URL Monitor feature, but for some reason it appears to be OFF. Enable it again for posts and pages.

If you enable this feature, the next time you change the slug of a published post or page, the plugin will create a redirect from the old slug to the new. This is very helpful on websites that often change the title and slugs of existing content.

You can save these automatic redirects to a separate Group.

I always enable Case insensitive matches and Ignore trailing slashes by default.

Click on Update.

After a few days, come back to this plugin page and look in the 404 panel. If your website is live and has some content, you will see many entries for different URLs. Most of these are generated because of bots and automated scanners.

There are many automated tools that scan websites not only for known vulnerabilities. They also look for backup files and archives, which may contain sensitive information.

What you should be looking for is 404 errors for existing content.

If you have many entries, I recommend that you Group them by URL and click on Apply. This will help you focus on 404 errors that receive the most hits.

You will see that many of these entries are for .zip and .rar files. These are usually created during the backup process or when moving your website from one hosting provider to another.

This is why it is very important that you don’t keep this type of files on a live website.

If you see the Source URL for an existing post or page, hover over that entry and click on Add Redirect.

In the pop-up, paste the correct Target URL and click the Add Redirect button.

If you click on the Gear icon to the right of the Cancel button, you will see 3 more rows with options.

You can type a Title for this redirect and you can restrict the Match criteria.

And you can change the action for this redirect and the HTTP code, instead of the default 301.

In the Log panel you will see how often your redirects are requested, again with some information about the User Agent.

This plugin is an essential one and should always be active on your WordPress website. It’s not the type of plugin that you use for a day or a week and then get rid of.

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