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A Comprehensive SEO Guide to 301 Redirects

Are you planning to transfer content from one page to another, or are you looking to completely redesign your website using new URLs? If so, you might be concerned about losing your search engine ranking.

If you’re creating a new page or a whole website, and you think that utilizing the same URLs you used before isn’t practical, it’s crucial to know the best practices. When done incorrectly, changing URLs can negate all SEO work that was done on the older URLs. Worse, incorrect URL changes can lead to a lower ranking on search engine results pages and a drop in organic traffic.

The good news? SEO doesn’t require you to start over. To route organic traffic to your new pages and website, you can use 301 redirects. Here’s what they are and how they can help you maintain your search engine ranking after a content transfer or website redesign.

Table of Contents

What Is a 301 Redirect?

A 301 redirect informs search engines, such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo, that content from an old webpage has been permanently moved to a new webpage. So, how does it work? 301 redirects, as the name implies, redirect visitors to the new URL if they happen to click on the old URL.

For instance, a website owner decides to rebrand and use new URLs for the new website. If some of the previous visitors search for the website on the internet, and the URL that shows up is the old one, they will be directed to a “404 error” message. This is when 301 redirects come in.

As mentioned, visitors will see a “404 error message” if there are no 301 redirects. This is not a good thing for your brand as this affects user experience. Thankfully, it’s easy to prevent this error with redirects, which can also help you create a better user experience for your visitors.

When Should You Use 301 Redirects?

Now that you already know what 301 redirects are, it’s essential that you know when to use them. According to Advanced Digital Media Services, a Denver SEO expert, here are some examples of situations where 301 redirects can be useful:

  • when changing URLs, no matter the purpose
  • when recreating or repurposing content
  • when consolidating various pages with overlapping content
  • when moving content from one domain to another
  • when rebuilding or redesigning a website, especially when using a phase-launched approach

How Do 301 Redirects Benefit SEO?

SEO professionals are keen to understand the link between PageRank and URL redirects. PageRank is the Google formula that determines a page’s authority and value based on the quality and quantity of links. Experts believe that PageRank is only one of the factors Google uses, but it does impact the ranking on search engine results pages.

Using redirects could cause a significant loss of PageRank back then. The good news, which started in 2016, is that a website’s PageRank won’t be affected by redirects anymore. This update is great for driving organic traffic to a new webpage or website. It just shows that utilizing 301 redirects is a great SEO technique.

Here are some of the other benefits offered by using 301 redirects:

  1. It increases conversion rates.

When internet users receive a “404 error” message, the likelihood of them visiting the same website again becomes slim. With redirects, they won’t have to go through the inconvenience of receiving a “404 error” message. They will be directed to the new website instead. This improves user experience and results in higher conversion rates.

  1. It preserves link equity.

Link equity is a ranking factor for search engines. It considers the fact that links can pass authority and value from one page to another. Contrary to other types of redirects, such as 302, which do not pass link equity, 301 redirects have been shown to pass around 90% of the authority and value of the old page to its new counterpart.

  1. It removes your old URLs from the indices of search engines.

Once search engine spiders encounter redirects on websites, they get informed that there’s a need to remove the old URLs from their indices. They then replace the old URLs with new ones. On the other hand, human visitors who don’t know the new URLs or try to access websites via their old URLs will be redirected to them.

 Key Takeaway

There are many SEO practices that can benefit you in the long run, and one of them is using 301 redirects. Transferring content or redesigning websites is necessary and can sometimes be inevitable, so learning how to use 301 redirects is essential.

When used correctly, 301 redirects maximize the SEO strategies you have put in place for your website. They help you maintain your position on search engine results pages and contribute to the growth of your business.

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