How do 301 redirects help user experience?
Throughout a website’s lifetime, it is very common for its URLs to change. There are a number of reasons for this, including website optimisation and domain migration among others. If a page’s URL is changed without proper redirects, all links to the former URL will arrive at a 404 page, hindering the user experience.
For example, if a page was moved from
http://www.calibrenine.com.au/content to http://www.calibrenine.com.au/bettercontent,
a visitor attempting to access the original URL would usually be served a 404 page. This will often cause users to leave your site and attempt to find the information elsewhere. However, if a 301 redirect is implemented, the site will take visitors to the new page without error.
How are 301 redirects used in SEO?
301 Redirects are used frequently in SEO and are recommended by Google as the best way to preserve rank when a URL is changed. They communicate with search engines that the original content simply has a new address and allows for all benefits (backlink authority, for example) to pass from the old URL to the newly created URL. Additionally, any links from external sites are preserved so that users can continue using them.
When should I use a 301 redirect?
There are many instances where a 301 redirect can be used, which can include:
- URLs needing to be changed for SEO improvements
- Website redesign or refresh that impacts page locations
- Moving to a new domain (domain migration)
- Removing a page without losing the link benefits
- Other websites linking to the site incorrectly
Check regularly to see if you need to implement 301 redirects
Using Google Search Console, you can see if requests for URLs are met with a 404 error.
Checking for and redirecting any broken links is essential for SEO and also for general website maintenance.
How do I implement a 301 redirect?
Most content management systems (CMS) will have either built-in 301 redirect capabilities or the option for plugins to be installed that allows for manageable 301 implementation.
You might have to speak to your web developer to ensure that your website’s server settings allow for redirects to be made. Sites that don’t use a CMS or have bulk redirect compatibility might find it simpler to upload redirect instructions directly to the server.
How can I see whether a page has been redirected?
A handy tool to see when a URL has been redirected is https://redirect.li/. You can also use a website crawler to see redirects across an entire site. Additionally, very observant users might be able to notice that the URL they arrived at is not the same as the one they were originally attempting to access.
What’s the difference between 301 and 302?
While 301 and 302 are similar, they both produce very different results. 302 redirects are used when content has temporarily been moved but intends to move back to the original URL. 302 redirects do not transfer any link benefits and are generally considered to be not friendly for SEO and typically avoided. If your page has been permanently moved, always choose a 301 redirect.
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