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301 Redirect: What It Is, How To Do It, And When Is It Needed

301 Redirect | 

For many reasons it can be interesting to make a page point to another web address, redirecting users who access it to new content. This change between links is called a redirect and there are several types that can be applied.

The 301 redirection is one of the most commonly used to perform this function and has an important weight within any SEO strategy for web positioning. For example, if a website’s internal link takes the user to a page that displays an error message, the user’s experience will be ruined, which can have negative consequences in terms of SEO in Google.

Table of content

What is a 301 redirect

A 301 redirect is a process that consists of redirecting traffic from one URL to another page permanently. It is a common action performed in web development and SEO to remove pages that do not exist and are displaying error messages to users, redirecting them to another specific page that does display content.

When the web browser accesses a page with 301 redirection it receives a message about the new location of the content, accessing it automatically (all this process is done in a hidden way to the eyes of the users, who will not perceive at any time that the 301 redirect has occurred).

What are the usual causes for a 301 redirect?

There are several reasons why it is necessary to perform a 301 redirect of a URL:

  • The page is no longer available as its URL has been deleted or modified (Error 404).
  • To redirect users to update content that is on a different page, without requiring them to perform an action to do so (a click or screen tap).
  • The page is not user-friendly and would rather redirect to a new page than improve it.
  • To make users who enter a web page, blog or online store through a given domain, be redirected to another domain. For example, if in an online store users access through the domain .mx, they are automatically redirected to the domain .es.
  • To redirect users to the domain .es.
  • To redirect from an HTTP page to an HTTPS page, or from a page with www to the web without www defined.
  • When you merge two websites and want to redirect content from one to the other.
  • When you merge two websites and want to redirect content from one to the other.
  • To give access from an old domain to the content of a new domain.

301 redirects and SEO

301 redirects have a direct impact on web positioning so it is important to know a number of important factors in this regard:

Too many 301 redirects

If 301 redirects are abused, the loading time of the website is negatively affected. If the website has many URLs that have been redirected, when the browser enters the site it has to receive the information related to the destination page to which it must go, and may suffer a small delay when having to search among many redirection options.

Redirection strings

Google bots have a limited time to visit a website and obtain information from its different URLs to position them (known as crawl budget or crawl budget). If a website has many redirects, crawlers will waste precious time moving between them.

If chains of redirects are made, such as triple redirects, for example, even more, crawling time will be lost, which will result in some important URLs not being indexed correctly by Google.

Leverage link juice

With web redirection, you can optimize the distribution of link juice or prestige of a URL by transferring it to another new page. This is very useful when you have content that may be obsolete or not of good quality, but has some weight or authority. By performing a 301 redirect to a new URL you can transfer that strength to the new page.

Avoid content cannibalization

When two pages of the same site compete to rank for the same keyword, they end up hurting the positioning of both. One of the solutions to avoid this problem consists of selecting the one with the greatest strength and performing a 301 redirect from the one with the least weight.

Although this is one of the ways to avoid content cannibalization, there are other alternatives to avoid having to “sacrifice” one of the pages involved in this problem.

How to do a 301 redirect

There are different ways to make a 301 redirect of a URL.

1. Redirect with the .htaccess file

This Apache web server configuration file (the ones commonly used by web service providers), includes the most important information about the behavior of a website when users access it.

To perform a 301 redirection using the .htaccess it is necessary to access this file located at the root of the hosting directory. Using the administration panel and its file management option, or accessing via FTP to the web files (with a program like FileZilla, for example), you can edit the .htaccess file and add the lines of code necessary to perform the 301 redirect.

 				 					Redirect 301 /content1/ 				 			

In the previous example, we can see how we include in the .htaccess a command to redirect the page of our own domain called content1, to the content1 of a new domain.

2. How to do a 301 redirect in WordPress

If the website is developed with the WordPress CMS, a 301 redirect is much easier to implement thanks to the existence of different plugins or add-ons.

Among the main plugins for WordPress to perform a permanent redirection of URLs we have:

This is one of the most popular and downloaded plugins to optimize a website for search engines. This add-on includes a quite simple and intuitive 301 redirect manager. From its options it is enough to choose the source URL and the destination URL, indicating that it is a permanent 301 redirect.

Once the changes are applied, the plugin performs all the necessary processes to optimally configure this redirection so that users can access the new page automatically when they access the previous URL.

SEO Redirection

This is a specific plugin for WordPress to perform 301 and 302 redirects (temporary redirects). Once downloaded, installed and activated this plugin, in the WordPress Configuration options, a new option called SEO Redirection will appear. By accessing it, you can add a new 301 redirect by clicking the Add button. Entering the source URL and the destination URL and saving the changes you will have the redirect applied correctly.

The permanent 301 redirect offers the possibility of making a page lead to another URL automatically when the user accesses it. This is a very powerful and interesting tool that every web developer or SEO expert should know, and know how to handle efficiently.

The 301 redirect is done by adding a code in the .htaccess file, but it can also be implemented quickly, easily and intuitively thanks to various plugins for WordPress and other CMS on the market.