301 Redirection: What is a 301 Redirects & How to Implement it

301 Redirection: What is a 301 Redirects & How to Implement it

When scaling up your business one of the first things you do is update your website and its pages. In this stage, you can decide to merge various content. 

You may further delete old content with information that is no longer relevant as you have created new content with updated information. 

But what if the removed or merged content attracted a lot of traffic and is still at the top of the search results? In this case, you will need a code that redirects users to the new web page. This is when the 301 redirect comes into play.

There are many status codes that a browser sends to you when you might be searching for something on the Web. Common examples of these status codes are 404 – Not Found, 500 – Server Error, and 403 – Forbidden. 301 Redirects are one of these status codes, which act as a mail forwarder when you have permanently redirected the content of your Web page to another Web page.

What are 301 Redirects?

301 Redirect

301 redirection is an HTTP status code that informs a browser when a web page has permanently moved to a new location. Crucially, if a user types in the older address, the 301 redirect automatically takes them to the new location.

Unlike a 301 redirect, a 302 redirect is for shifting a page’s location temporarily. Make sure you pick the right one as per your needs.

Why opt for 301 redirection?

  • If your business is moving to a new domain for rebranding purposes, 301 implementation is inevitable.
  • HTTPS protocol is the order of the day, and if you’re migrating from HTTP then a 301 redirect is crucial to avoid the dreaded ‘404-Not Found’ code.
  • If you’re looking to overhaul your content is another reason why 301 redirection might be the way to go.

Is 301 redirection SEO friendly?

Absolutely! However, you need to implement 301 redirection while keeping search engine rankings in mind. The keywords used in your new URL and content should be in accordance with your industry so that your overall rankings are not adversely affected by your latest 301 move.

How does a 301 redirect work?

1. Client requests a URL from a server 

As a primary step towards understanding how a 301 redirect works, you need to understand what happens when a client first requests an URL. The client requesting for an URL opens the server connection and sends it through. The instance below might give a broader view of the event. 

“GET /old-url/ HTTP/2” 

Main Host: www.infidigit.com

2. Server response 

After the client requests the URL, in 301 redirection SEO, the server immediately begins to treasure it. Instantly after, the server tries understanding and looking up the URL of 301 redirect. It then reciprocates that the content the user is searching for has permanently relocated and responds with, 

HTTP/2 301 

Location: https://www.infidigit.com/new-url/

3. Client makes a new request 

After being informed about the relocation, the client then requests the new location of the content. The usual response is as in the instance given here, 

GET /new-url/ HTTP/2 

Main Host: www.infidigit.com

4. Server responds to new request 

Assessing the request, the server evaluates the new request about the 301 redirects. After understanding the demand, the server responds by approving the request and further reciprocates the new URL asset, alongside the payload. It often shows as like, HTTP/2 200

When to Implement 301 Redirection?

  • When moving a page to a new URL permanently

There are many instances when you might need to shift the content on a page to a new URL. For instance, if there was SEO-related content on “https://www.website.com/old_page/” which was moved to “https://www.website.com/new_page/” then a 301 redirection must be used for this permanent redirect. This will help the users to get redirected to the new page and the search engine to index the new page and keep its ranking intact.

  • Site migrating to a new domain

Businesses change their domain names for many reasons, such as expanding the reach of their website overseas, rebranding, and so on. A few examples of website migration include:

  1. Changing the name of the website from https://www.oldwebsite.com to https://www.newwebsite.com
  2. Changing the domain name from https://website.com to https://www.website.co.uk

Using the “change of address” tool from the Search Console of Google, a 301 redirection should be implemented in such cases.

  • Moving from HTTP to HTTPS

HTTP and HTTPS protocols play a crucial role in the indexing process of search engines. Many websites have shifted to the HTTPS protocol, while some still use the HTTP protocol. Hence, if you’re switching from HTTP to HTTPS, it is imperative that you use 301 redirects as they help the search engines index your protocol shift. They prevent the “404 – Not Found” code from showing up and redirect the user to the new page.

  • Moving from non-www to www URL

This is primarily to avoid any duplication issues. https://website.com and https://www.website.com are the two options here.

If you observe that your website is accessible through both non-www and www URLs, then it is important to implement 301 redirects to your preferred URL. Since there are no SEO benefits of choosing either URL structure, you can choose either of these for your website based on your preference.

  • Resolving uppercase and trailing slash

Trailing slashes are an important part of the URL structure. A URL with a trailing slash will be different from a URL without a trailing slash. For instance, the URL https://abc.com/page will redirect to a different page than the one https://abc.com/page/ redirects to. Hence, it is important to maintain consistency in using trailing slashes for your URLs. Apply 301 redirects to the version of the URL that you do not intend to use.

The use of Upper Cases can cause similar problems too.  https://abc.com/page/ will be a different Web page than the one associated with https://abc.com/Page/. 

  • Recreating Content 

Many businesses might want to entirely rebuild their old content, maybe on a new page, due to multiple reasons. In cases like these, you should ensure that a 301 redirect guides users from the old content to the new one. While many forget to unpublish the old site, it is obligatory to archive it so that users can effortlessly find the new content page. 

Usually, when attempting 301 redirects, it is better to devise a flexible rule. If it is unavailable, use a particular tool for the same reason, alongside Google sheets or Excel especially to have a basic roadmap of your redirects.

301 Redirect vs. a 302 Redirect

A 301 redirect notifies search engines as well as users that the page has permanently shifted, while simultaneously taking them to the accurate page. Thus, users are redirected to the new page that has substituted the old one.

Meanwhile, if you decide to relocate the existing content to a new URL only for a temporary time period for reasons like website testing and want to guide users to a short-term URL, then you can use 302 redirects. 

Difference between a 301 redirection in SEO and the rel=” canonical” attribute

A 301 redirection comes into the picture when you have permanently moved any page or wish to transfer any gained SEO credit to the different web pages. It also holds importance when you want to deindex any page. In simple terms, 301 redirection in SEO informs Google about the preceding things.

On the other hand, rel=canonical informs search engines that information on identical URLs is the same. It is critical since this approach allows you to instruct search engines on which pages to display to users. Some cases where rel=canonical usage is necessary are

  • When you can’t implement 301
  • In case you wish to retain numerous pages with identical content active.

How to redirect a page using WordPress?

  • Redirect via server

This is one of the most effective methods, both from the perspective of page loading speed and technical efficiency. WordPress doesn’t enable 301 redirects directly. Hence, redirection using the server is the most preferred option. Although this approach totally depends upon the stack of software your WordPress domain might be using.

  • Redirect using plugins

You should only go for this option if, for some reason, redirecting via a server is not working out for your domain. Using plugins for 301 redirects will be comparatively slower and will rely heavily on a third-party, which might not be very trustworthy.

Few mistakes to avoid in 301 redirection

  • Setting 302 redirection

301 redirects are used for permanent redirection of a Web page, and 302 redirects are used for temporary redirection of a Web page. It is common to confuse them both. Use the Site Audit Tool to identify which redirection status is used on your Web page.

  • Redirecting a page where the intent differs from the original one

Proper organization and record-keeping can help you avoid this mistake. Make sure that the users are redirected to the page they’re looking for and not another Web page.

  • Javascript redirection

Javascript redirection should be avoided at all costs as there is a high possibility that search engines won’t be able to render the page. Many websites do not allow JS or CSS files to be crawled, which can cause this issue.

  • 301 redirects after creating a new page

When you create a new page or, for some reason, permanently move the content of your existing page to a new one, you can use the 301 redirect status code to inform users about the redirection and lead them to your current page through a redirection link or button.

  • 302 redirect during the content migration

When you migrate or move your existing content to a new page or URL for a temporary duration in case you are testing your page, assessing its performance, gathering client feedback or fixing any other issue, and want users to know about the migration, you can use a 302 redirect.

Other Types of Redirects

  • 302 – Temporarily Moved

When you temporarily move the address of your Web page (URL) from one page to another, you can inform existing and prospective users about the page shift through a 302 response status code. This code redirects customers from the old page to the new one and also notifies search engines about the temporary shifting of pages.

  • Meta Refresh or JavaScript Redirect

A Meta Refresh or JavaScript Redirect helps redirect users to your new Web page or URL. But unlike a 302 response status code where users have to click the redirection link to go to the new page, the Meta Refresh or JavaScript Redirect enables the Web browser to automatically redirect itself to the new page after a short time frame.

  • Internal 404 Errors

An Internal 404 Error appears when a website’s content has either been deleted or shifted to a new website or URL altogether. When a Web owner fails to make adjustments to the website’s internal links due to an incorrect entry of the change, users trying to reach the website can see a 404 Error Not Found status code on their browsers. It also happens if the Web server or domain name does not exist anymore or if the user’s connection is broken. Here, the user is neither t automatically redirected nor provided any link for redirection. However, to fix 404 errors, you need to carry out a 301 redirect as a Web owner if you have moved your website permanently or a 302 redirect if you have moved it temporarily. As a user, you can fix 404 errors by refreshing the page or re-entering the URL in the search engine box again.

How Do 301 Redirects Affect SEO?

It is crucial to know when and how to implement a 301 redirect, or else it can affect your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) rankings on Web browsers (mostly Google). SEO rankings affect the position of the website’s display when a user uses the browser to search for a product or service. These rankings depend on keywords in your Web content and URL and match the user’s keyword.

When you use specific keywords in your content and URL, it gathers traffic as per the SEO rankings achieved. Moving your Web page to a new one with a 301 redirect that consists of keywords unrelated to your existing content or URL harm SEO rankings and makes it difficult for users to visit your new website. To maintain SEO rankings, it is best to use as many of the target keywords that were used to drive traffic to your old Web page to ensure that you do not lose out on existing or prospective customers. 

Conclusion

Infidigit is an SEO company in Mumbai that offers professional SEO services that can help you with the technical aspects of SEO, like 301 redirects. With competent SEO experts, our team offers an error-free and expansive range of SEO-related services that can help your business generate optimum traffic and revenue.

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