When you start to delve into the world of SEO, you will encounter a lot of jargon. This includes redirects, or 301 redirects.
As in most industries, you can ignore the majority of jargon terms unless you want to become an expert. There are some that are important, though. In SEO, 301 redirect is one term you should understand.
What Are 301 Redirects?
The term 301 redirect refers to a piece of code that you apply to a page on your site. This tells website browsers and Google to go to a different page instead. Therefore, you use 301 redirects when you replace a page on your website with another one to ensure any links to the original page continue to work.
When Should You Use 301 Redirects?
You should use 301 redirects on your website almost every time you delete or replace a page.
There are two main reasons for this:
- User experience – there may be links to the page you have deleted or replaced on other sites or elsewhere on your site. If you don’t redirect the old page, users of your site will get an error page, usually what is known as a 404 page. This is not a good user experience.
- SEO benefits – pages on your site build up authority in Google as the search engine crawls them, indexes them, monitors their performance on search results pages, and finds links to them. By redirecting pages that you delete or replace, you keep all that Google goodness, transferring it to the new page.
So, it is beneficial in almost all circumstances to apply 301 redirects to pages on your site you no longer need. That said, there are two main situations where using 301 redirects is particularly important:
- When redeveloping or updating your website – it is common to change the structure of websites when redeveloping or updating. This can include changing pages or changing the URLs of pages. Even when the changes are small, you should use 301 redirects. Speak to your SEO agency or website developer in Auckland about how to do this.
- Moving from HTTP to HTTPS – adding SSL security to your website is highly recommended for SEO as well as for security and usability reasons. The process involves updating the URL for every page on your site, i.e. changing from HTTP to HTTPs. Therefore, you need to redirect all those older pages. Again, an SEO agency in Auckland can help with this process.
Things to Avoid When Adding 301 Redirects
While 301 directs are beneficial for SEO, they can create some situations which will hurt your site. Here are four of the most common that you should avoid:
- Don’t apply 301 redirects randomly – in other words, there should be a connection between the old page and the new page you are redirecting to.
- Avoid redirect chains – this is where a page redirects to another, which then redirects to another, which redirects to another, and so on.
- Redirect loops – this usually happens in a redirect chain. It is where the chain loops back on itself, creating an endless loop of redirects.
- Broken redirects – this is where the new page is broken, so the redirect essentially goes nowhere.
Every Page Counts
The main thing to remember in relation to 301 redirects is that you should never completely abandon a page. Deleting and replacing pages is normal, but make sure you keep what you have built up by adding 301 redirects.