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301 Redirects: How and Why to Use Them

Oct 22, 2014, 14:48 PM | Published under Search Engine Optimization by Michael Hodgdon

Effective use of 301 Redirects for SEO

A 301 redirect is an operation typically done by an SEO or web developer to permanently give one page or site the benefit of another page or site’s SEO rankings. An example is if your company decides they need a new website. In order to keep the old website’s rankings in search engines, which brought in visibility, business, and revenue for the company they would place a 301 on the old site. What this does is it tells search engines to treat the new site like the old site, and to place t301 redirects, SEOhe new site into any instance where the old site might normally show up in the SERP (Search Engine Results Page).

There are several options with a 301 redirect: you could simply redirect one entire site to another, however, in order to reap the most benefit from this procedure you should place a separate 301 redirect on each and every page on the old site that generates significant traffic to its equivalent in the new site. In other words, if you had www.my-old-plumbing-company.com/contact, and if that specific page generated a lot of traffic then you would want to place a 301 redirect on it and tell it to point to www.my-new-plumbing-company.com/contact.

A new website is not the only example where a 301 redirect would be used: it could be used in the case of a company who has bought another one in the exact same industry as the first. In any case, however, the old website, is functionally dead. Even if you haven’t turned off the hosting for the original site (which you should because why pay for something you’re not using?), as long as the 301 redirect is on the old site it won’t appear for users.

So how do you do a 301 page redirect? There are 301 redirect code generators that allow you to generate code that can be placed on a webpage which will do the redirecting for you. Simply type the address of the site that you want to redirect, then type in the URL of the site that you want users to be redirected to, and click, “Generate code”. Voila, you have your code. Then place the generated code into a notepad document, save the file with the filename ".htaccess", and place in the root directory of the site to be redirected.

There’s usually an even simpler way, however, because most websites nowadays use a CMS (see previous blog post explaining content management systems) which automates the process. Usually all you have to do is simply enter the old address and the new one, and it will upload the code for you.

Something to keep in mind, Matt Cutts recently published a reminder in Google’s support site that while there’s no limit to how many pages in your site you can place a 301 redirect on, there is a limit to how many 301 redirects you give a single page. For example, if you redirect one page to another, and then redirect that page to another and so on, you will eventually be unsuccessful in redirecting the users anywhere, so only do this process once, maybe twice at the most, per page.

Infront Webworks is a Google Certified partner and we specialize in search engine optimization. If you have any questions about your website, or need help showing up on Google, give us a call.

About the Author

Mike is the COO at Infront Webworks. An online entrepreneur since 1997, he has owned or run website design / SEO, online marketing and internet advertising companies for over 15 years. Featured in Entrepreneur Magazine, Colorado Springs Business Journal and with projects featured in N.Y. Times, L.A. Times, he has a solid track record of successful online undertakings. He has Digital Marketing and Marketing certifications from Cornell University, is a certified Yext Partner, Google Certified in Analytics, Tag Manager, AdWords, Online Display Advertising, Shopping and Video Advertising.

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