What Is a 301 Redirect and How Are They Useful?
A Real World 301 Redirect Scenario
Have you ever moved and forgot to forward your mail? You wonder why your bills aren’t coming to your house, or what ever happened to that birthday card your aunt sent you last week? Then you realize your mail is still being sent to your old place and then probably being thrown in the trash. This is a real world example of why 301 redirects are both useful and important.
301 redirects are essential a URL forwarding system. If you are moving to a new website, like you would a new house, you need to let people know that you are in a new location and make it very easy for them to find you. That is what 301 redirects do. They make sure that anyone that is trying to access your website gets sent to the right place if they trying going to an older location.
What Is A 301 Redirect?
A 301 redirect is sometimes called a permanent redirect. It is one of a list of different redirects that lead people to different URLs in a variety of ways. It will send the users to your new URL when they type in the old one or select the old one from search engine results. This is a clean way of changing domains without confusion or losing your ranking on search engine results.
Search engines evaluate the authority of a website on several bases one of which is the inbound links a domain has. So keeping your inbound links is essential when changing domains. A 301 direct allows you to do just that.
What If I Am Not Changing Domains, Are They Still Useful?
Through keeping 301 redirects in mind when you are changing domains definitely is a very good thing. They can be used very often in a variety of ways even when you have no plans to change domains. For example, when you type a web address do you type correct format every time by adding the “www.” In the beginning? Most likely you never do that, and neither do most people. Just because they do not add those common website statements, you still want them to find your website. They will be able to do that if you set up a 301 redirect that allows it to happen.
301 redirects can also be used when you have a desire to link multiple websites you own to one larger authoritative website. This can be beneficial to those seeking to increase their ranking on search engines through creating content and links that establish their website as an authority among other websites.
When you have a web page that isn’t functioning properly, you don’t want to just lose that potential traffic, so an easy way to capitalize on that traffic is to set up a 301 redirect that will send that traffic to useful web pages where they can find the information they need. Also, when cleaning up your website you might want to redirect certain URLs within your domain to other, more relevant URLs. A 301 redirect can help with that.
When choosing to redirect old or unused web pages, you also increase your user’s experience. They will not be confused or frustrated when pages they expect to load and they can’t. This means that they will spend more time on your website. This is also a factor that has to be considered when considering your websites SEO.
Potential Problems and Helpful Hints
1. Know that there is a difference between 301 redirects and 302 redirects. That difference is how long they last. A 302 redirect has its uses and is temporary. However, a 301 redirect is permanent. It is important to not create a temporary solution when you need a permanent one. It is important to not get them confused, and to chose to use each one when appropriate.
2. Set up your 301 redirects before you start to move your website. Doing so will ensure that inbound links and other reputation aspects are in place before any changes are made. You do not want to risk your website’s ranking when you don’t have to.
3. Know that fluctuations in the ranking of your website are possible, with or without using any kind of redirect. It happens. So don’t get overly anxious about choosing to move your domain, as long as you do set up your 301 redirects correctly, your website ranking should not shift too much.