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What are 301 Redirects, and When Should you use Them?

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If your business moved physical locations, wouldn’t you make every effort to let people know where you were? Of course you would-after all, making sure customers could still get in touch only makes sense, right? You may not think about it, but it is just as important to let people know how to find you on the web should you ever change URLs. 301 redirects can ensure continuity-here is a little about what they are and how they can help you.

What is a 301 Redirect?

A 301 redirect permanently reroutes traffic to a different URL than what was typed into the search bar. Think of it like someone physically directing cars through a detour by telling them to go another way. The only difference is that people do not physically notice they are being detoured. They simply type in their usual URL and land on the appropriate page regardless.

There are other types of website redirects; however, a 301 is considered “formal and permanent.” As such, you should not use it when you only need to redirect web traffic temporarily.

Helps With Search Engine Optimization

Search engines view web pages in different ways. For example, your page might be looked at differently if you have “www” or “http” in front of it. You might also have difficulty ranking if all your pages do not redirect to a central home page. A 301 redirect could come in very handy at eliminating what search engines deem to be duplicate content.

Redirects also maximize SEO whenever your URL changes. This is particularly important if others regularly link to your blog or website. Suppose half of those links were for your old URL and the remainder were for your new one. In either instance, you could be losing a great deal of traffic. 301 redirects ensure that both links take people to the same location. It does not require anyone to modify links to ensure that happens.

Other Occasions for Using

301 redirects do more than just help with search engine optimization. There are other times when using them could also be very useful, so you may want to consider them if:

  • Your business name has recently changed
  • You have bought similar domain names to prevent them from being hacked
  • Your website has a very long vanity name and you would like to simplify things a bit
  • The previous URL where content was hosted no longer exists
  • You established a different URL for a special campaign, which has now ended. Redirecting visitors will allow those links to count toward another page.
  • Another website has recently merged with yours, and you would like to retain their visitors as well.
  • You have established a secure website, and now require the “https” designation.

You’ve probably encountered 301 redirects on other websites without even realizing it. That’s because they are a subtle yet effective way of ensuring people wind up where they are supposed to go. If you seem to be losing traffic, perhaps it is time to consider a 301 redirect.

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