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?
Whenever you move your content from any of your URLs, 301 Redirects are responsible for letting the user and search engines know where to find that content. Search engines are able to interpret which URL the content has moved to by indexing, and the users get forwarded to the said URL via 301 Redirects.
Now that you know what is 301 redirect, let’s take a look at how it works and when to implement it.
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:
- Changing the name of the website from https://www.oldwebsite.com to https://www.newwebsite.com
- 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/.
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.
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.
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.
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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