When you run a business website, there will definitely be times when you need to retire certain pages or move them to new URLs. When this happens, though, you don’t want to simply delete a page and create a new one, because that’s bad for your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts–once you delete a page, any search engine trust and authority that’s associated with that page goes with it, and you’re stuck back at square one. This authority takes time to build up, so it’s a big deal when you have to start over.
In order to maintain a URL’s authority when replacing it with a new or updated page, there’s something called a 301 redirect that you can use to pass a page’s existing authority to its replacement URL. Using 301 redirects to help users find the information they’re looking for is good both for user experience and search engines, and keeps the vast majority of your page’s ranking in these situations.
When You Want to Use a 301 Redirect
To understand what makes 301 redirects so powerful, we here at Big Red SEO want to give you a real-life example where 301 redirects saved a company’s search engine rankings. In this instance, a company that had a strong online presence for many years suddenly needed to change its name, and its old web domain wouldn’t make sense to use with the new name. They thought that this meant that they’d need an entirely new website.
It was a hard choice to make for a number of reasons–customers knew them by their old name, so switching company names was going to hurt them in brand recognition and consumer trust. This company had been around for years and had solid search engine rankings on the first page, but by changing domains they thought they’d have to start all over again from the bottom.
Needless to say, they were relieved and even overjoyed when our team told them that they wouldn’t have to start all over, thanks to help from 301 redirects. By implementing sitewide 301 redirects, our SEO team was able to redirect all of the site’s old pages to the new domain. The benefit here was that when a user would search for their services and find an expired URL in the search engine results pages (SERPs), they wouldn’t reach a dead-end. Instead, they’d be taken quickly and easily to the same page on the new domain.
What Does a 301 Redirect Look Like?
301 redirects need to be added to your site’s .htaccess file, and they should look like this when you’re redirecting a single page on your domain:
Redirect 301 /oldpage.html http://www.yourdomain.com/newpage.html
If, on the other hand, you’re redirecting your existing page to a new domain (say you’re going from a .com to a .net), the code looks like this:
Redirect 301 /oldpage.html http://www.yourdomain.net/newpage.html
You’ll notice that we highlighted in green the change from .com to .net, which is the only change necessary to make this 301 redirect work. Our SEO team would like to stress here that inserting 301 redirects into your .htaccess file can be tricky and can result in “500 Error Code” messages if you aren’t completely comfortable making code level changes to your website. When you need help with 301 redirects, it’s best to call in the professionals at Big Red SEO to make this process go smoothly!
Contact Big Red SEO at (402) 522-6468!
While 301 redirects are very helpful to use during domain changes, it’s important to use a 301 redirect whenever you have reason to change a page’s URL. If a current or potential customer navigates to a page on your website that’s been indexed by search engines but was not redirected, chances are they’ll be confused and frustrated, which are never good emotions for customers to associate with your brand.
Even if you don’t know how to use 301 redirects yourself, our team at Big Red SEO does. We’re experts in search engine optimization, so when you need help preserving and enhancing your business’ online presence, give us a call today at (402) 522-6468, or fill out our online contact form to get started!