The internet is an ever-evolving web of information and digital spaces. If a page on your domain is no longer active, it is essential to forward users to the current relevant page on your site, much like changing your physical mailing address when you move. You don’t want your visitors landing on a page with a 404 message, and Google doesn’t think highly of it either when comes to your SEO.
When changing the URL or domain of your site, it is important to plan carefully and pay attention to detail, as insufficient or incomplete redirecting can negatively affect your visitors experience, and your site’s overall ranking according to Google.
301 redirects are one way in which to streamline the user experience, and alert search engines to the logical layout of your domain.
Here, we will scratch the surface of the questions what, how, and why when it comes to this easy and necessary process.
What is a 301 redirect?
A 301 redirect is one of five types of redirects used. While the others may be useful in some contexts, a 301 redirect is almost always preferred when it comes to SEO. Simply, it is a permanent redirect to a new page, as opposed to a temporary move (302 or 307 Redirect). When a user clicks a link to the disabled URL, they are quickly and immediately directed to the new, live, and relevant page.
How to set up a 301 redirect
Depending on your development or CMS platform, there are a number of ways to set up a 301 redirect. This information is for a novice using platforms such as Wordpress, Magento, and Drupal.
- Wordpress- Wordpress is the most popular CMS due to its open source flexibility and preconfigured plugins. This means there are a number of options out there for users to fix broken links with 301 redirects. One popular example is the Redirection plugin or the Simple 301 Redirects plug-in from the Wordpress Repository. These tools make creating 301 redirects simple with no existing knowledge of programming languages.
- Magento- Magento is one of the most popular ecommerce platforms for small to medium businesses. It also makes it quite easy to create 301 redirects with four easy steps. Once you log in, click “Catalogue” and find “URL Rewrite Management.” An orange button on the right side of the page will allow you to “Add URL rewrite.” From there simply choose “Custom,” and complete the “URL Rewrite Information” form.
Why 301 redirects are important for SEO
Your SEO ranking is determined by a search engine according to a plethora of factors. Some of the factors include user experience and behaviour, usefulness of content, and an efficient and logical website structure.
Having an expired page accomplishes none of this.
The 301 redirect tells the search engine that the page is moved and the information that a searcher is looking for can be found on the redirected page.
301 redirects are often considered best practice for fixing broken links because they retain the rankings from the old page. A 301 redirect is capable of retaining 90-99% of the ranking power (link equity) of the redirected page. This is incredibly important as it can take a ton of time and effort to build up link equity.
When maximizing the impact of your site, it is important to keep up with best practices for user experience and site efficiency. A 301 redirect is one of many tools necessary to accomplish this. With little effort and know how, you can retain the progress you’ve made in the past and set the stage for even more success in the future.