301 Redirects – Why you need them and when to use them

301 redirects can often create confusion for SEO’s and clients alike and consistently stir-up debate on when you should use them.  With this in mind, I will go on to explain what a 301 redirect is, and why you should be using 301 redirects, and how to set up 301 redirects for your website.

The Why & When

A redirect will come into play when you need to change the URL of a page as it is shown in search engine results,. It’s recommended that you use a server-side 301 redirect to do this. This is the best way to ensure that users and search engines are directed to the correct page. The 301 status code means that a page has permanently moved to a new location.

The SEO benefits of this are that all your past link building for the old url will be redirected to the new url. This will prevent 404 errors but more importantly for SEO’s your link equity will be (mostly) passed on to the new url. I say ‘mostly’ as there are studies out there that say you can loose around 15-20% of your link juice by changing your urls. So in a nutshell only change urls if its really necessary and if you do decide always make sure you use a 301 redirect if its a permanent change.

Examples of when to use a 301 Redirect

  1. If your previous website was www.myfantasticwebsite.com and you decided to change it to www.myawesomewebsite.com you’d implement a 301 redirect from the old URL to the new one. So now when someone types in your old URL they will automatically land on your new URL
  2. Another common use is when you need to redirect your non www version of your URL to the www version. Keep in mind that to Google http://www.myawesomewebsite.com & http://myawesomewebsite.com are 2 different urls serving up the same content which splits your link equity which in turn can dilute the power of your pages as the link equity you have on one wont pass to the other.

Protect your SEO investment with 301 Redirects

Don’t waste all your past SEO investment when setting up a new domain. Set up a 301 redirect from your old URL to your new one so the inbound links to your old domain will send the same authority to your new domain.