What is a 301 Redirect?
A 301 redirect is a way to redirect a web page from one URL to another. It’s called a “301” because that’s the HTTP status code that tells search engines and web browsers that the page has moved permanently. This means that if someone tries to visit the old URL, they will automatically be sent to the new one.
This is useful for a few reasons. First, it helps maintain the integrity of your website’s SEO by telling search engines that the content has moved to a new location. Second, it ensures that anyone who has bookmarked or linked to the old URL will still be able to access the content they were looking for. Overall, a 301 redirect is a simple yet powerful tool for website owners to maintain the structure and usability of their sites over time.
When to use a 301 Redirect?
You might be wondering when to use a 301 redirect. Well, here’s the deal: you should use a 301 redirect whenever you move a web page from one URL to another.
Why? Because without a redirect, anyone who tries to visit the old URL will get a frustrating 404 error page instead of the content they were looking for. Not cool, right? Plus, search engines won’t know where to find the new location of your content, which can hurt your website’s SEO.
But with a 301 redirect, you can make sure that everyone who tries to visit the old URL gets automatically sent to the new one. It’s like magic! Well, sort of. Anyway, the bottom line is that if you want to maintain the structure and usability of your website, use a 301 redirect whenever you move a web page. Easy peasy!
Here are four situations when you would apply 301 redirects:
- When you change your website’s domain name: If you change your website’s domain name, you’ll need to set up 301 redirects to ensure that anyone who tries to visit your old URLs is automatically redirected to your new URLs. This will help maintain your website’s SEO and ensure that your visitors can still access your content.
- When you delete or move a page: If you delete or move a page on your website, you’ll need to set up a 301 redirect from the old URL to the new URL. This will ensure that anyone who tries to visit the old URL is automatically redirected to the new URL, and it will help maintain your website’s SEO by telling search engines that the content has moved.
- When you merge two websites: If you merge two websites into one, you’ll likely have a lot of old URLs that no longer exist on the new website. To ensure that anyone who tries to visit those old URLs is redirected to the new website, you’ll need to set up 301 redirects. This will help ensure that your visitors can still access your content, and it will help maintain your website’s SEO.
- When you change the URL structure of your website: If you change the URL structure of your website, you’ll need to set up 301 redirects to ensure that anyone who tries to visit the old URLs is automatically redirected to the new URLs. This will help maintain your website’s SEO and ensure that your visitors can still access your content. For example, if you change your blog post URLs from “example.com/post-title” to “example.com/category/post-title”, you’ll need to set up 301 redirects from the old URLs to the new URLs.
Two methods you can use to apply 301 Redirects to your wordpress website.
Here are two ways you can apply a 301 redirect to a WordPress website:
- Using a Plugin:
- Step 1: Install and activate a redirect plugin like “Redirection” or “Simple 301 Redirects”.
- Step 2: Go to the plugin settings and enter the old URL and the new URL you want to redirect to.
- Step 3: Save your changes, and the plugin will automatically create a 301 redirect for you.
Here are two different plugins that will work for 301 redirects:
This is a popular WordPress plugin for managing 301 redirects. It’s free to use and has a user-friendly interface that allows you to easily create and manage redirects. You can set up redirects based on URL, referrer, browser, and more. Plus, the plugin offers advanced features like 404 error monitoring and import/export functionality.
This is another free plugin that allows you to easily create 301 redirects from within your WordPress dashboard. It’s a simple plugin that’s designed to do one thing and do it well: create redirects. You can enter the old URL and the new URL, and the plugin will take care of the rest. Plus, it’s lightweight and won’t slow down your website.
- Editing .htaccess file:
- Step 1: Access your website’s root directory through FTP or cPanel.
- Step 2: Locate the .htaccess file and open it in a text editor.
- Step 3: Add the following code at the top of the file
Redirect 301 /old-url/ http://www.example.com/new-url/
Replace “/old-url/” with the old URL you want to redirect, and “http://www.example.com/new-url/” with the new URL you want to redirect to.
- Step 4: Save your changes and upload the updated .htaccess file to your server.
And that’s it! Both methods should work just fine for applying a 301 redirect to your WordPress website. Just be sure to test your redirects to make sure they’re working as expected. Good luck!
Problems to avoid when applying 301 Redirects
301 redirects are an important tool for redirecting web pages permanently to a new URL. However, there are several common problems that you should avoid when applying 301 redirects. Here are some of the most important ones:
- Not implementing redirects correctly: It’s important to ensure that your redirects are implemented correctly. Incorrect implementation can result in a loss of traffic and potential damage to your site’s search engine rankings. Make sure you’re using the right syntax and that you’re redirecting to the correct URL.
- Not updating internal links: When you redirect a page, it’s important to update any internal links pointing to that page. If you don’t update these links, users may still be directed to the old page, and search engines may not recognize the new page.
- Redirecting to unrelated pages: Don’t redirect pages to unrelated pages or content. This can be confusing for users and search engines and may result in penalties or loss of rankings.
- Not using redirects for all relevant pages: Make sure you redirect all relevant pages to the new URL. Leaving some pages without redirects can result in broken links and a negative user experience.
- Ignoring backlinks: Backlinks are an important factor in search engine rankings. Make sure you redirect pages with backlinks to the new URL to preserve their link equity.
- Forgetting about mobile users: Make sure you redirect mobile users to the correct mobile URL. If you don’t, they may be directed to the desktop version of your site, which can be difficult to navigate on a mobile device.
- Not testing redirects: Before making any redirects live, make sure to test them thoroughly to ensure they’re working correctly. You can use tools like Google Search Console to check for any errors or issues.
By avoiding these common mistakes, you can ensure that your 301 redirects are properly implemented and effective in preserving your website’s traffic and search engine rankings.
301 redirects are a crucial tool for any website owner who wants to move or delete pages without negatively impacting their search engine rankings or user experience. By implementing redirects correctly, updating internal links, redirecting all relevant pages, and testing thoroughly, you can ensure that your site remains accessible and user-friendly. Remember to also consider mobile users and backlinks when applying redirects. By following these best practices, you can confidently make changes to your site’s structure and content without fear of negative consequences.
Looking to make some changes to your website and need some help?
Reach out to Troy at Loaded Digital for a free consultation