In SEO, a 301 redirection code is used commonly and often. However, not all use it correctly. In this blog post, I will share more information about 301 redirects and tips to use it in your favor.
What is a 301 redirect?
It is a signal to indicate your page is permanently moved from one URL to another. This is necessary for both search engines and website visitors. In technical language, it is HTTP status code, referring “Permanently Moved” status of a webpage or a website (domain).
Let’s understand it with a simple example, when someone shifts a shop, he often leaves a board “Moved” with a new address. 301 redirections mean the same.
Why is it necessary to use 301 redirects in SEO?
- The first and foremost reason from an SEO perspective is, “To not lose link equity (backlinks and other SEO factors) and page rank”.
- If you are investing in website SEO services, each page would have some backlinks and other SEO factors, which define page rank and link equity.
- If a URL is broken or you just changed the URL without redirecting it with 301, then you will lose page rank and link equity, both. It means all your efforts and/or money put in website SEO services is lost for that particular page.
- If you have changed the link and have not redirected it with 301 redirections, then the visitor will bounce back after seeing a 404 – Not Found page.
- If you have two links of the same page (this is possible, more details are covered in the next section), and if one of the pages has outdated content, then some of your visitors might be checking outdated content. This also causes SEO issues as your two pages would get considered having duplicate content and would compete with each other.
To deliver a superior experience to consumers and search engines, you should use 301 redirections by taking the help of an SEO expert.
What are the common mistakes and tips to keep in mind related to 301 redirects?
Many SEO professionals due to lack of knowledge or expertise make many silly mistakes. This can cause issues like poor customer experience or downfall in SEO returns. Based on my own experience, as an SEO specialist, I will share some commonly made mistakes related to 301 redirections and effective SEO tips to manage those mistakes.
- Keeping HTTP & HTTPS versions
SSL certificate has become necessary nowadays for all sites. When SSL is integrated, website URLs get changed from HTTP to HTTPS. Many people make 2 common mistakes:
- Do not redirect HTTP URLs to HTTPS version
- This keeps two versions of each page, which would have the same content. This will trigger a plagiarism signal and can harm SEO results.
- If you have different versions of both pages, then both of these pages will compete with each other.
- Some website visitors would see “Not Secure” in browsers like Chrome when visiting your old website with an HTTP version.
- Some website visitors would keep exploring an outdated website and content.
- Manually redirect each HTTP link to the HTTPS version
- If your web developer redirects each link with 301- redirection, there will be too many redirections on your site. This will slow down its loading speed. This would motivate both search engine bots and your visitors to leave the site.
- Use domain redirection with 301 to permanently move the whole website to the HTTPS version.
- Redirecting all pages to the home page
This mistake is often made by SEO managers due to a lack of knowledge. A broken link checker and Google Search Console (earlier known as Google Webmasters), show all broken links. Broken link means a link with nothing, which had some content to show earlier; usually, it shows a 404 error.
Many SEO managers or some self-made web owners redirect all broken links to the home page. This would neither help in SEO nor is user experience.
Let’s understand with an example,
We have a digital marketing site. Assume the link of our “website SEO services” page is broken and I redirect you to my homepage. The home page has general information of all our digital marketing offerings, not just SEO marketing. This would cause two issues:
- Lost website visitors. Another, my favorite example, in a supermall, someone asks where is the grocery section? And the salesperson redirects him to the main door of the mall. 😀
- Lost SEO results. You get better performance of a webpage if your page and backlinks pointing to the page are relevant to each other. If you randomly redirect links to a single page, it would definitely redirect page rank and backlinks, but you are more likely to lose results related to that.
- Redirect each broken page to the relevant page.
- If there is no relevant page, let it show 404 – Page Not Found. However, you must have a custom and well-designed 404 page.
- Not giving attention to broken links
Many people do not check whether there are any broken links or not. Each website can have some internal or external backlinks. A website with many pages usually has more broken links. Giving attention and taking the required action is necessary.
- Monthly or quarterly, check broken links.
- Take the required action of a 301 redirection or a 404 page for each broken link
- Keeping moved pages in the sitemaps
In a website, there can be two types of sitemaps:
- XML for search engines and
- HTML for website visitors
Sitemap.xml is mandatory for better SEO results. Having links of pages, which are already moved with 301 or 302 redirections, would be harmful.
- Regularly check and update sitemap.xml
- Getting trapped in multiple redirects or redirection loop
- Multiple Redirects: When a page is redirected from page 1 to page 2 and page 2 to page 3, then it is called multiple redirects.
- Redirection loop: When page 1 is redirected to page 2, page 2 to page 5, page 5 to page 1, then it is called a redirection loop.
Both cause multiple issues such as:
- Slowing down the website.
- Encouraging search-bots to not explore your webpage and therefore, not getting SEO benefits.
- Degrading user experience.
- Identify the redirection loop and multiple redirects and redirect the main page to the latest page. For example, in the case of a multiple redirect example, redirect page 1 to page 3. In case of looped redirections, combine all pages and make a single page with all information and redirect all of them to a single page
A 301 redirection is an excellent way to ensure you do not lose your SEO value and degrade the user experience. However, it has to use it wisely. At a regular interval, your website should be inspected with best SEO audit practices to identify broken links, redirected URLs in the sitemap, etc.
If you need expert SEO services or if you want an SEO audit from an SEO specialist, contact us.