301 Redirects : Everything you need to know

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What is a 301 Redirect?

Simply stated, if you want to permanently change the web address of your page from an old URL to a new one, then you use a 301 Redirect.

For e.g. if your web address is “www.exmaple.com/top-10-articles” and you want to change the address to “www.example.com/top-ten-articles” then you have to 301 redirect the former URL to the latter one.

Its just like an official letter or application  for change of house address you give to the Post office, so that all your correspondence should now come to the new address. 301 Redirect, is like that letter of intimation to Google and other search engines so that all traffic should now come to your new web address.


When should I do a 301 redirect?                          

  • You know that “http://example.com” and “http://www.example.com” are two different websites. Hence you need to select one and do a 301 redirect so that your traffic, page authority and search ranking do not get diluted between your both sites.

If your first website URL attracts 5 inbound links and the second website URL also attracts high PR 5 inbound links, wouldn’t it be great to have 10 high PR inbound links on a single page. Hence you should always do a 301 redirect.

  • You want to do a site migration where you need to migrate thousands of links from your old domain to your new domain, do a 301 redirect to every single one of them 
  • Have you moved/edited an old URL to a new web address? May be because of a typo error or a keyword insertion. Do a 301 redirect.


How many 301 Redirects can I do for a site?

Well, if you have considered a site migration where you need to redirect thousands of URLS from the old domain to the new, don’t worry, you are free to do any number of redirects. One critical thing you need to know here is that the old page should only be redirected to its correspondence new page and not to any other irrelevant page.

Generally it has been seen that in order to reduce the count of 404 errors people tend to 301 redirect pages to the homepage. Please restrict doing that.


Can I do a chain of 301 redirects?

Well if you are asking that you keep on doing a 301 redirect from one URL to another to another and so on. This, has a cap. You should not make a chain of 301 redirects because it might baffle the bot who would crawl from redirection to another to another and so on. As a rule of thumb, you can do it for just 2-3 times. If you exceed that number, it might just get tricky.


Never throw an old URL. Never?

Thinking about re-branding? Revitalizing your image? Getting your website a face lift? Perhaps, you’re also considering changing your website domain. Sounds reasonable, but make sure you do it the RIGHT way! Otherwise, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.

Why? Because without it, you will be throwing the web authority your previous domain collected right out the window. Any inbound links your old domain earned will lead to nowhere land–and worse, they won’t be passing SEO credit to YOU any longer. Don’t you want to keep them? Links are gold!


Would it affect my PR or search Rankings?

Well, whenever you change URLs, you might see an initial drop in traffic as Google finds and reindeers these pages. But you should soon be able to regain your page authority and search rankings but it may not be what it was before you used 301 redirects. 301 redirects only pass 85 – 90% of link equity, so all of the pages you’ve 301’d are now 10 – 15% less authoritative than they were before. Depending on how you were ranking before and the strength of your competitors, this loss of link equity could have negatively affected your position on SERPs. The only way to get this link equity back is to have all of the pages linking to your old pages link to the new pages (get them to directly link to your new page), or to get enough quality links to your new page that compensate for the loss in equity


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