When you redesign your site you may find that some pages no longer fit your audience or your business needs. When that is the case, many people are tempted to simply delete them. If you do, you’re doing your business and website a disservice. You’re disturbing the link love and (potentially) killing your authority.
In order to avoid this damage and alienation of Google and other search engines, you’ll want to set up 301 redirects. But how do you do it and what’s at stake? It’s a lot more important than you think.
What’s a 301 Redirect?
A 301 redirect, otherwise known as a permanent redirect, sends website visitors and search engines to a different URL than the one that was originally requested. Since it’s a permanent redirect that indicates the content has permanently moved. It should not be used for temporary relocations of information. The 301 passes 90-99% of the old page’s SEO value to the new page. According to Matt Cutts at Google, there are no limits on 301 redirects so it’s considered a best practice to preserve your page/site authority.
The “credit” for authority does not take place immediately. The search engines will need time to recrawl or find the new content and assign the rank and credibility of the previous page to the new one.
When Should You Use 301 Redirects?
301 redirects should be used when moving content permanently but there are a few specific cases in which it’s extremely important such as when:
- You want to set the destination of your homepage as in redirecting a www-version to a non-www-version of your site.
- You change your website’s directory.
- You changed to a new domain.
Directions for Setting Up 301 Redirects
If you’ve been wondering how to do a 301 redirect read on.
The how behind issuing 301 redirects varies based on what kind of web application framework you are using. (See a couple of methods of URL redirection from some of the most common frameworks.)
301 Redirects on WordPress
WordPress is a common platform for websites and one that’s fairly easy to set up 301 redirects on. To do so follow these instructions for URL redirections:
- Download (and install) a WordPress redirection plugin. There are many to choose from but Redirection is one of the most popular and easiest to use.
- After installation go to Tools > Redirection.
- Type in your original URL as well as the new one in the corresponding spaces.
- Click on Add Redirection.
Voila! A new redirect is added.
How Do You Know If Your 301 Redirects Were Done Correctly?
You can go in and test each one after you change them or you can check the whole site in a much more efficient manner. There are many 301 redirect tools to choose from. You can search Google for “301 redirect checkers” or use one of the link checker WordPress plugins. These checkers crawl your website and advise you of broken links, providing invaluable insight into protecting your positive user experience and SEO.
Don’t throw away all of your website and domain authority in your website redesign. Google and your audience need to know where to find your valuable content.