If you’ve recently done a website audit and found out your website is in dire need of updating, then it’s time to take action. Whether it’s full of 404 errors, broken links, or your website needs restructuring, 301 redirects may be your new hero. In this post, we’ll discuss when and how to use 301 redirects.

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What is a 301 Redirect?

In simple terms, a 301 redirect permanently moves one URL address to a new URL address. In other words, it’s an HTTP status code telling search engines your content has changed location or has been updated. The redirect then sends both the user and search engines to the new URL from the original URL.

Why is having a thorough understanding of 301 redirects so important? They improve user experience and adhere to the best SEO practices, all while helping you to maintain site traffic.

When to Use a 301 Redirect

Most of the time, it’s best to use a 301 redirect whenever you’re making a permanent change to your URL.

These are some specific examples of when a 301 redirect should be used:

  • For a broken URL that is 404ing
  • Restructuring your website to improve categorization and topics
  • Moving from non-www URLs to www URLs
  • Switching from HTTP to HTTPs
  • Merging two or more domains
  • Resolving trailing slash issues
  • Resolving uppercase vs lowercase issues
  • A page has moved to a new location
  • Changing your domain name
  • Deleting a page
  • URLs with dates that need to be updated
  • Discontinued products being deleted from an eCommerce store

How to Use a 301 Redirect

Properly using 301 redirects is vital for a positive user experience and maintaining or even boosting your SEO performance. Surprised?

Here are a few ways to boost your SEO with 301 redirects:

  • Merging and redirecting thin content pages
  • Migrating from a subdomain to a subfolder, or migrating content from one domain to another
  • Resolving keyword canonicalization issues
  • Merging multiple websites into one
  • Managing discontinued products

How to Implement a 301 Redirect

Depending on your CMS, the easiest way to implement a 301 redirect is to install and use a plugin. A few noteworthy options for WordPress include RankMath, 301 Redirects, or Redirection. For a more in-depth list, check out Hubspot’s guide to 301 redirect plugins.

Another simple option is to see if your hosting platform offers easy redirection management from its admin panel.

Many 301 redirects are made through the .htaccess file on Apache servers. Here are a few ways to implement via the .htaccess file: 

1. Redirect an entire domain to a new site

Redirect 301 / http://www.example.com/

2. Redirect to a new page

Redirect 301 /oldpage/ http://www.example.com/newpage/

 

This is how you would implement a 301 with PHP:

PHP redirect

<?php

header(“Location: https://www.example.com/”, true, 301);

exit();

?>

Get Help With Your Site

301 redirects can be complicated, and they can cause more harm than good if used inappropriately. If you are unfamiliar with the process, it may be a good idea to work with a professional agency who can assist you.

ClickGiant is a leading SEO agency serving clients nationwide. Get in touch today to request a free site audit.

Request Free Site Audit