When it comes to website management and search engine optimization (SEO), one of the most important tools at your disposal is the 301 redirect. This powerful tool can have a huge impact on your website’s traffic and search engine rankings when used correctly. Yet many website owners and managers are still unsure about what it is and how to use it. Lets explore the basics of the 301 redirect, its importance for your website, and how to use it effectively.
What is a 301 Redirect?
A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect from one URL to another. It is a server-side redirect informing search engines and web browsers that the page or content has been permanently moved to a new location or address. This is different from a 302 redirect, which is a temporary redirect telling search engines and browsers that the content has been temporarily moved to a new URL.
Why is a 301 Redirect Important for Your Website?
There are several reasons why a 301 redirect is important for your website, including:
- Preserving SEO value: When you change the URL of a page, it can affect your SEO value. By using a 301 redirect, you can transfer the SEO value of the old page to the new page, ensuring that you maintain your search engine rankings.
- Fixing broken links: If you have broken links on your website, they can negatively affect your user experience and search engine rankings. Correct use of a 301 redirect, you can redirect traffic from broken links to the correct page.
- Changing domain names: This is quite a comon scenario… If you are changing your domain name, a 301 redirect can help you transfer traffic from the old domain to the new domain.
- Merging websites: If you are merging two or more websites, a 301 redirect can help you redirect traffic from the old websites to the new website. This helps to make an apparently seamless transition for people not to mention bookmarked pages and third party links to the newly orphaned pages.
- Changing page names: If you change the name of a page on your website, a 301 redirect can help you redirect traffic from the old page to the new page. For example https://www.coded.ie/my-old-page-url becomes https://www.coded.ie/my-new-page-url
Search engines will have indexed the old page but the 301 re-direct tells it its at my-new-page-url fixing the possible duplicate content issue and orphaned url in one action.
How to Use a 301 Redirect Effectively
Using a 301 redirect is relatively simple, but it’s important to follow best practices to ensure that you get the most out of it. Here are some tips for using a 301 redirect effectively:
- Use a 301 redirect only for permanent changes: If you are making a permanent change to your website, such as changing a URL or moving content to a new page, use a 301 redirect to make sure that search engines and browsers recognize the change is permanent.
- Be specific: When creating the 301 redirect, be as specific as possible about the page or content that has moved. This will help search engines to identify the new page and transfer any it has SEO value accordingly.
- Test the new redirect: After creating your 301, test it to be sure that it works as expected. Its vital that your website visitors are redirected to the correct page and that search engines recognise the change correctly.
Example 301 Redirect using the .htaccess file
If you are using an Apache server, you can create a 301 redirect in your .htaccess file by logging in via FTP and editing the file (be very careful).
Here is a simple example of a 301 redirect that sends traffic from an old URL to a new URL:
Redirect 301 /old-url/ https://www.example.com/new-url/
In this example, traffic from the old URL “/old-url/” will be redirected to the new URL “https://www.example.com/new-url/” Note that the forward slash (“/”) at the end of the old URL is important to ensure that all pages under the old URL are redirected.
A 301 redirect is a simple yet powerful tool that can have a huge impact on streamlining your website’s traffic and search ranking when used properly.
Avoid confusion. Use a 301