What Is a 301 Redirect, and When Should You Use It?
When your website location changes, you’ll need to inform others of your new address — much like when you physically move to another location. Customers want current, accurate information when trying to learn more about your services and products.
Keeping customers up-to-date builds trust and makes your site more reliable. In the tech world, taking the proper steps to ensure people reach the right place is called a 301 redirect.
Ready to learn more about 301 directs for your website? Keep reading and see when you should implement them!
What is 301 redirect?
A 301 refers to an HTTP status code sent to a browser from a web server. It signals when a page permanently moves or is removed from a website. The redirect automatically forwards users to the new URL when they click the link.
Having a permanent redirect with a 301 HTTP means the old URL won’t host anything or work anymore — it functions like a mail forwarder. As the best way to implement changed URL addresses, a 301 redirect passes full ranking power to the redirected page.
Similarly, a 302 redirect signals temporary changes. While 301s and 302s pass the same amount of link equity, a 301 redirect sometimes gives a better signal for Google canonicalization, making it the better option for your business.
Why are 301 redirects important for SEO?
Changing website addresses frequently happens on the Internet. When your company changes a URL, it’s vital to implement the best practices for SEO.
You can improve your URL’s ranking by consolidating low-performing posts. A 301 redirects traffic from the old content to the improved articles and works well if your brand contains an extensive library of overlapping topics.
Grouping similar information together optimizes keywords to avoid cannibalization and duplicate content to boost your site’s rankings.
11 times when you should you use 301 redirect
Below are 11 different scenarios where a 301 redirect would be the best option for your business.
1. Changing a domain
Companies change their original URLs for many reasons. Say your brand name changed to accommodate optimization better. 301 redirect guides visitors to the permanently updated domain and maintains your ranking positions.
2. Deleting a page
When you remove site content, use a 301 redirect to send visitors to a similar page on your website where they can find the information they need.
If there isn’t an alternative page, and you want to delete the content without a similar replacement, the best option would be to use a 404 error referencing deleted content.
3. Consolidating your articles
Covering a topic in-depth boosts your SEO performance because the Google algorithm recognizes when you answer questions and provide helpful information. If you plan on merging your content, the pre-existing pages benefit from forwarding visitors to the consolidated URL.
4. Redirecting a page
Visitors may bookmark a page they want or need to visit later. If you move a page to a new location, you’ll want to use a 301 redirect to prevent those consumers from seeing a 404 error, indicating Google can’t find the requested website link anymore.
5. Merging multiple domains into one website
Some companies operate more than one domain for each location they own. Pulling sites together into a consolidated website combines the authority and equity of the domain, creating a more substantial site to drive more traffic. Each website for the various chain locations should redirect to your merged site.
6. Managing discontinued products
Everyone manages their discontinued products differently. Your business could use a 301 to direct customers to a similar product they might enjoy, or you could try a 404 to show Google that your product is no longer online.
7. Transferring a website during a web launch phase
When migrating your website to a new domain, a phased launch approach involves one core website page going live first, with the second wave of other pages going live later.
If you plan on using this approach, we recommend using a phased redirect map for accounting for all your pages and using 302s to show temporary changes until the changes become permanent with 301s later.
8. Recreating content
Suppose you want to refresh old content on a new page, such as using a different web page template. In that case, you’ll want to use a 301 redirect from the pre-existing link to your new page to transfer over your SEO ranking and then proceed with unpublishing and archiving the old page.
9. Changing your site or subfolder structure
Organizing your site structure or changing any subfolder structure, such as a blog or e-commerce category, makes it easier to categorize your content. Your SEO performance improves when Google better understands how your pages relate.
10. Resolving upper-case and lower-case issues
Differences between upper and lower-case letters in URLs may identify duplicate content. Using a 301 redirect resolves indexed variants to help your SEO performance. Only using lower-case letters for your URLs allows you to remain consistent moving forward.
11. Switching from HTTP to HTTPS or a non-WWW to WWW URL
Some industries, such as e-commerce and banking, use data protection encryption with a Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure or HTTPS URL to keep customer information safe. Other types of URLs range from non-WWW to WWW formats, without SEO preferring one over the other. If you’re planning on changing your URL type, you should use a 301 redirect to prevent duplication issues or a 404 error.
Want help with 301 redirects?
GradeMyWebsite offers a free tool to help you see what pages are ranking and public. You can use our tool to get your page stats and see what pages are getting traffic that shouldn’t be.
If you’re planning on using 301 redirects, let the experts at WebFX implement them for you with the best SEO practices.
When you want to make changes to your content or site, you’ll benefit from using 301 redirects the right way to boost your ranking and generate more leads. Call 888-256-9448 or contact WebFX online to get started today!
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