Search Engine Optimization 301 Redirects
Let’s start off by explaining what a 301 redirect is and then get into how using them can help your search engine optimization efforts. A basic definition of a 301 redirect is “A Web server function where an old URL can be redirected to a new one. 301 Redirect is a “permanent” redirect status indicating that the resource has moved permanently”.
There are a few different ways that a 301 redirect can be done, I won’t get into all of them here, just a few to give an idea of how these things work. One way is to use the old method of the “Meta Refresh”. A meta refresh can be placed in the <head> statement of your source code on a blank page with the old file name, which then automatically redirects visitors to the new page. The problem is that this is a technique often used by spammers to trick search engines, it is highly recommended that you avoid using this form of redirect unless extremely necessary. Besides it doesn’t help your site in any way with regards to search engine rankings or passing page rank.
The correct way to do a 301 redirect is to add the correct code your .htaccess file. The .htaccess file contains specific instructions for certain requests, including security, redirection issues and how to handle certain errors.
One of the main reasons websites apply a 301 redirect is because they may want to redirect old web pages to the new pages or an old web site to the new web site and the only way to keep the same search engine rankings is to use the 301 redirect. It will also pass on the page rank from your old site to your new site.
Lately search engines have been taking longer to pick up 301 redirects and because of this websites can drop in ranking pretty fast if the search engines do not find the redirects fast enough. A good way to keep this from happening is to make sure that once you have added the redirects you go out and find a few quality links and point them at the old site or page so that the search engines can see that this page is now redirecting to a different location. A good place to get fresh links is to sign up for either an SEO Forum or one of your favorite blogs where you are allowed to post comments and link to your website. Once the search engines have made the switch you will then want to go and change all of the links which point to the old site or page and replace it with the new url.
If you apply the correct methods when writing your redirects then you should have no problem with the search engine optimization side of things. Make sure to test your redirects to see if they are set up correctly. If you don’t have time or access to create a 301 redirect then I recommend that you at least set up a custom error page. There will be no search engine value but at least you can keep the visitors on your site by directing them to either your home page or any other page in your site.
If you are using wordpress to but don’t have access the .htacess file then I would recommend using the “301 Redirection Plugin” from Urban Giraffe. As always, thanks for reading.