The 411 on 301 Redirects

A 301 redirect is a response status code informing search engines and browsers that a web page or even an entire website has been permanently moved to a new location (URL). A 301 will automatically redirect the user to the new URL and is the best way to insure that search engines are directed to the correct page.

A 301 redirect is extremely important if you have an existing site with traffic that you want to send to another website. 301s will also help you maintain your existing search engine rankings so you do not lose traffic after the transition to the another URL. Examples of why you would need a 301 redirect include:

  • Moving your old site to a new domain name - You just purchased a great premium domain name, which is a better brand than your old website URL.
  • Shutting down pages on an old website and merging it into another website - You want to make sure the traffic from your old, outdated urls are re-directed to another site.
  • Users access your site through different, but similar, URLs and you want to consolidate that access - For instance, users access your home page through www.home.com and www.home.com/home and you want to pick one as the preferred destination.

From an SEO perspective, 301 redirects are important because you will keep most, if not all of the link equity that you built from you old domain. This mitigates the risk that your Google and Bing search engine rankings will drop after migrating from one domain to another.

If you are not technical, you will need to ask your web developer or System Admin to implement the 301 redirects for you because it will require access to your server's .htaccess file. For more information, consult the Apache .htaccess Tutorial and the Apache URL Rewriting Guide.

If you have any other comments or questions, please post them in the comments below.

By Spencer Yao.
June 10, 2013