In the ever-evolving world of websites, change is the only constant. Whether you’re redesigning your site, rebranding your business, or even just tweaking your page URLs, it’s crucial to understand the power of 301 redirects.
301 redirects can be confusing, so we’re here to demystify them once and for all so you know when to use them (and when not to) and how it actually affects your website and your rankings.
What are 301 Redirects and Why Do They Matter?
Think of a 301 redirect as a road sign that guides both users and search engines from one web page to another. It tells them, “Hey, that content you’re looking for has moved permanently to a new location.” Without a 301, visitors would encounter a dreaded “404 Page Not Found” error, resulting in a frustrating user experience and potential loss of valuable traffic.
When to Use 301 Redirects:
- Changing URLs: If you’re modifying your website’s URL structure, perhaps to make it more user-friendly or consistent, implementing 301 redirects is crucial. This ensures that visitors who have bookmarked or shared old URLs can still access the desired content seamlessly.
- Website Migrations: When migrating your website to a new domain or platform, 301 redirects are your best friend. They help transfer the authority and relevance from the old pages to the new ones, preserving your hard-earned SEO rankings and minimising any disruption to your traffic.
- Consolidating Content: Sometimes, you may decide to combine multiple web pages into a single, comprehensive resource. For instance, you have a blog that is now a bit outdated, but you’ve written a much newer and relevant one on the same topic that includes some of the original info. In such cases, setting up 301 redirects from the old pages to the new consolidated page ensures that your users find the consolidated content and search engines understand the changes, ultimately benefiting your website’s SEO.
When Not to Use 301 Redirects:
- Temporary Changes: If you’re making temporary adjustments to your website or pages, such as during maintenance or promotions, it’s best to use temporary redirects like the 302 or 307 redirects. These tell search engines that the changes are temporary and that they should keep the old URLs in their index.
- Page Deletions: When deleting a page that has no suitable replacement or alternative content, it’s generally recommended not to use a 301 redirect. Instead, allow search engines to process the 404 error naturally, signalling that the page no longer exists. However, if there is a closely related page or alternative content available, then a 301 can be beneficial.
How Do 301 Redirects Affect Your Website and SEO?
Implementing 301 redirects has several important implications for your website and SEO:
User Experience: By seamlessly redirecting users to the correct page, 301 redirects prevent frustration and help maintain a positive user experience. Visitors can quickly find the content they’re seeking, leading to higher engagement and reduced bounce rates.
- Link Juice and Authority: Search engines assign authority and ranking signals to web pages based on incoming links from other sites. When you use 301 redirects, the link equity and SEO value from the old page are passed on to the new page, helping preserve your website’s overall authority and rankings.
- Indexing and Crawling: Search engine bots crawl websites to understand their structure and content. When you set up 301 redirects, it helps search engines discover the new location of your content, preventing them from wasting resources by repeatedly crawling old, obsolete URLs.
In essence, 301 redirects are vital for the management of website transitions, smooth user experiences, and preserving your SEO efforts. However, this is best left to a professional as messing with redirects and error codes on websites can be finicky and easily messed up if you’re unsure of what you’re doing.
Fortunately for you, at 80/20 Digital, we have a team of expert web developers who can ensure your 301 redirects are implemented correctly so your transitions are smooth and your SEO remains unhindered. Contact 80/20 Digital today on (03) 9042 0714 to find out how we can help you improve your website’s SEO and User Experience.
80/20 Digital's Content & SEO Specialist, Abbey Faulkner is dedicated to staying on top of industry trends and putting her creativity to good use for her clients. She combines her expertise in media and writing to boost rankings, improve brand awareness, increase engagement and generate leads across clients' websites, email marketing and social media.