What is a Redirect?
A redirect is a web server function that will redirect traffic from one URL to another. Redirects are an important feature when the need arises. There are several different types of redirects, but the more common forms are temporary and permanent. In this article, we will provide some examples of redirecting through the vhost file, forcing a secure HTTPS connection, redirection to www and non-www as well as the difference between temporary and permanent redirects.
Common Methods for Redirects
Temporary redirects (response code: 302 Found) are helpful if a URL is temporarily being served from a different location. For example, these are helpful when performing maintenance and can redirect users to a maintenance page.
However, permanent redirects (response code: 301 Moved Permanently) inform the browser there was an old URL that it should forget and not attempt to access anymore. These are helpful when content has moved from one place to another.
How to Redirect
When it comes to Nginx, that is handled within a .conf file, typically found in the document root directory of your site(s), /etc/nginx/sites-available/directory_name.conf. The document root directory is where your site’s files live and it can sometimes be in the /html if you have one site on the server. Or if your server has multiple sites it can be at /domain.com. Either way that will be your .conf file name. In the /etc/nginx/sites-available/ directory you’ll find the default file that you can copy or use to append your redirects. Or you can create a new file name html.conf or domain.com.conf.
The first example we’ll cover is redirection of a specific page/directory to the new page/directory.
Temporary Page to Page Redirect
# Temporary redirect to an individual page
rewrite ^/oldpage$ http://www.domain.com/newpage redirect;
Permanent Page to Page Redirect
# Permanent redirect to an individual page
rewrite ^/oldpage$ http://www.domain.com/newpage permanent;
Permanent www to non-www Redirect
# Permanent redirect to non-www
rewrite ^/(.*)$ http://domain.com/$1 permanent;
Permanent Redirect to www
# Permanent redirect to www
rewrite ^/(.*)$ http://www.newdomain.com/$1 permanent;
Sometimes the need will arise to change the domain name for a website. In this case, a redirect from the old sites URL to the new sites URL will be very helpful in letting users know the domain was moved to a new URL.
The next example we’ll cover is redirecting an old URL to a new URL.
Permanent Redirect to New URL
# Permanent redirect to new URL
rewrite ^/(.*)$ http://newdomain.com/$1 permanent;
We’ve added the redirect using the rewrite directive we discussed earlier. The ^/(.*)$ regular expression will use everything after the / in the URL. For example, http://olddomain.com/index.html will redirect to http://newdomain.com/index.html. To achieve the permanent redirect, we add permanent after the rewrite directive as you can see in the example code.
When it comes to HTTPS and being fully secure it is ideal for forcing everyone to use https:// instead of http://.
Redirect to HTTPS
# Redirect to HTTPS
server_name domain.com www.domain.com;
return 301 https://example.com$request_uri;
After these rewrite rules are in place, testing the configuration prior to running a restart is recommended. Nginx syntax can be checked with the -t flag to ensure there is not a typo present in the file.
Nginx Syntax Check
If nothing is returned the syntax is correct and Nginx has to be reloaded for the redirects to take effect.
service nginx reload
For CentOS 7 which unlike CentOS 6, uses systemd:
systemctl restart nginx
Redirects on Managed WordPress/WooCommerce
If you are on our Managed WordPress/WooCommerce products, redirects can happen through the /home/s#/nginx/redirects.conf file. Each site will have their own s# which is the FTP/SSH user per site. The plugin called ‘Redirection’ can be downloaded to help with a simple page to page redirect, otherwise the redirects.conf file can be utilized in adding more specific redirects as well using the examples explained above.
Due to the nature of a managed platform after you have the rules in place within the redirects.conf file, please reach out to support and ask for Nginx to be reloaded. If you are uncomfortable with performing the outlined steps above, contact our support team via chat, ticket or a phone call. With Managed WordPress/WooCommerce you get 24/7 support available and ready to help you!