A redirect is a tool used by websites for “rerouting” or sending a visitor to an alternative webpage. An example of a redirect would be when you type “example.com” in your web-browser, but are taken to a different website, like “new-example.com.”
URL redirects are an extremely common practice employed by webmasters and content managers to ensure visitors to their website are reaching their desired content.
When you request a web-page from your browser, there is a server somewhere on the Internet that is receiving your request and responding with the appropriate content. Fundamentally, a redirect occurs when a web-server's response contains a special piece of data (an HTTP response header) instructing the browser to reroute the visitor to an alternative location.
The technical details aside, a browser works by requesting a URL and rendering the page that is returned by the website. If the website wishes the user to be redirected, the server will respond differently than if it was serving a page; it will send an extra piece of data indicating that the visitor should be redirected to a specified location.
Without going into too much of the technical details – a redirect is a behavior performed by a web-browser whenever it receives a response containing a flag (an HTTP header) to do so.
Commonly referred to as a “permanent” redirect.
Indicates to search-engines and web-browsers that the requested page has permanently relocated to a new location.
Note: permanent redirects are often cached by web-browsers like Chrome and Firefox. Therefore, it may be tricky to retroactively update a 301 redirects target location once it has been established. Any visitors who have already received the 301 redirect response for a URL will likely be served a cached response from their web-browser when visiting the same URL again.
Suggestion Only use a 301 redirect when you know that the target location will not change.
Commonly referred to as a “temporary” redirect.
Useful for general-purpose redirects within your website, where you do not want visitor’s to cache the redirect response permanently.
Suggestion Use 302 redirects for pages that have changed URL, but are subject to be updated in the future
Uncommon due to legacy browser support
Used for technical scenarios when a visitor’s HTTP request method should be persisted when they are redirected. For example, if a user submits a form, the browser normally issues a POST request to the form’s action URL. If the server responds with a 302 redirect response, the client’s web-browser would typically issue a GET request when handling the redirect. However, if the server responds with a 307 redirect response, the client’s web-browser will POST request to the redirect destination. Please note, form-data is typically lost when redirecting via POST request.
The most common use-cases that would require a redirect are:
While standard URL redirects work in most situations, some circumstances require redirects only at specific times of the day or months in the year. Time-based URL redirects enable you to personalize what each visitor sees and create more targeted, time-sensitive marketing campaigns.
Time-based redirection, also known as time-based routing, allows you to redirect traffic headed for one URL to a different destination URL depending on the visitor's time of access. This allows you to redirect users to different pages or content based on factors like:
For example, you may want to redirect morning traffic to one set of pages or ads, while the evening traffic sees something different. Or you may promote certain products/offers only during the holidays or on Black Friday.
The main benefit of time-based redirection is it allows you to optimize your website experience and marketing campaigns around your users' behaviors during various time periods. You can ensure visitors see the most relevant, impactful content and offers precisely when they need it.
Currently, the only platform that offers time-based URL redirects is SiteDetour, a flexible, user-friendly redirection platform. It makes it easy to set up redirects based on a wide variety of factors including time and even location-based redirects. Here’s how you can set up time-based URL redirects for your website using SiteDetour:
First, log into your SiteDetour account and navigate to the Audiences page. You can access the Audiences page by selecting “Personalization” in the side menu. This is where you'll create a trigger for your time-based redirect.
Find the "Create New" button to open the audience creation popup. Give your audience a name such as the purpose of the time-based redirect.
In the popup, click "Add Targeting Rules" and select the date/time option. Configure your desired time-based trigger here. You can choose to base the time-based trigger on the visitor's local time or in a specific time zone. This gives you more flexibility to personalize content based on the time at your users’ locations.
With your target audience created, you can now create your time-based redirect. Go to "Redirects" in the side menu and click "Create New." Give it a name and click "Add New Path."
At the top of the new path window, you’ll see an “Add Target Audience” option that allows you to apply your time-based trigger to this redirect. This same process also allows you to apply other triggers to your redirects such as the user’s location or their device type.
Add your target URL then publish the redirect. Visit your site at different times to test it out and ensure your redirect rules work properly.
According to a report by Salesforce, 97% of marketing professionals noticed stronger performance after implementing personalized marketing. So, here are a few ways you can use time-based URL redirects to personalize your content:
Redirect visitors to your deals or category pages based on the current holiday. This allows you to capitalize on the surge in holiday shopping demand and drive more sales during major shopping days. For example, you could run a campaign for Valentine’s Day that promotes different products based on your user demographics at different times of the day.
When a user visits your site outside of your actual business hours, consider redirecting them to a page notifying them that your business is currently closed. Within the page, you can include your business hours, online reservations or appointment booking, and an out-of-office phone number they can call in cases of emergency. This method of redirection is particularly useful for service businesses that want to maximize in-person visits.
Create time-based redirects to show commuters relevant content and offers in the morning and evening commute hours. Targeting those audiences during their transit times makes your content more helpful and engaging.
As an example, a breakfast shop running a commuter promotion of a breakfast sandwich and coffee can run a redirect to this promotion page from 6am-10am. But, after the promotion, they want their normal pages to show to avoid confusing their lunch crowd.
Rotate winter seasonal offers and summer offers based on the time of year and seasons. Tailoring offers and products to relevant seasons and weather keeps your content intriguing and makes the shopping experience more personalized.
For example, an e-commerce site could run a campaign promoting their new summer clothing line during the months of May through August. During those campaign hours, the site can automatically redirect visitors to their summer clothing lines.
The key to maximizing the impact of your time-based redirects is continually tracking their performance and optimizing them. Here are a few tips for tracking and optimizing your redirects:
With SiteDetour's flexible platform, you can easily set up detailed, time-triggered redirects to take your marketing campaigns to the next level. You can try it for free to see how time-based redirects can maximize your conversion and ROI across all periods!