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What a 301 redirect is and how to use it
A 301 redirect is when you have one URL permanently directed to another. When you click on the first URL you, and the search engines, would then be directed to a different URL than the one you tyed directly into the address bar. Usually you won't find 301 redirects indexed in the search engines because they are not the destination page. Sometimes you may see them indexed because the website has not been crawled since the page change, but it doesn't happen too often. 301 redirects use to be a great way to get link juice passed on to your main URL as well as PR, but today PR doesn't matter as a ranking factor since so many webmasters were abusing this.
Just below this paragraph there are 2 URLs that take you to the same page. This happens because of a 301 redirect. When someone is linking to the Example Blog using either of the URLs, the URL that we are directing the traffic to (blog.example.com) is seen as the main page and also seen as the authority. Also, the inbound links (backlinks) are technically aimed at the final destination page. People actually exploit this a lot when building high quality links online.
If you were to type in the URL that is redirected with a 301 you probably wouldn't even notice a change because the redirect is almost instant. Now if you were going to a web page about dogs and got redirected to a page about cars you might notice, but that's now how 301's are suppose to be used. If you are using 301's in this way they you should probably rethink what you're doing before you gain a penalty from the search engines and get your rankings dropped until you fix the problem.
Why would you set up a 301 redirect?
The main 3 reasons people set up 301 redirects are as follows:
- To keep the authority flowing to a main page. Sending all the http:// or www. traffic to a single page and also sending link juice as well.
- When changing a domain name to something similar and you want to rebrand it without losing authority. A good example of this is if SEOclerks.com was to change to just Clerks.com and they wanted everyone to know right away of the domain change without losing any traffic. It's actually kind of funny because I just checked out Clerks.com and it is 301'd to csisoft.com so that's actually a great example lol.
- To send traffic to different URLs under the same website or company.
Now that you have a better idea of what 301 redirects are use for, we can get into a little more detail about them. I'll go over some steps on how not to screw up your SEO when using redirects
1) When setting up a 301 between http:// and http://www.
When using redirects you can aim your backlink juice at different URL variations of the same page. Even though http://blog.example.com and blog.example.com are the same website, they are completely different URLs. You will need to use a redirect in order to send all the traffic, and link juice, to a singul page instead of spreading it across http:// and http://www.
2) Be sure not to move to your new domain name without first setting up a proper 301 redirect to the new domain.
If you move to your new domain before your set you set up a 301 redirect you will lose all of your link juice and your rankings will plumit. You will still get direct traffic from people typing your domain name right into their address bars, but the search engines won't treat you well. By pointing your redirect at the new domain name and then migrating all your files you will save all of the SEO work you've done in the past and keep most of your rankings.
3) 99% of the time you'll be using a 301 redirect instead of a temporary 302 redirect.
I say 99% of the time you'll be using a 301 redirect because people more than likely purchase new domains instead of taking down their website temporarily. You can use a 302 redirect if you're fixing some things on your website, but you don't really have to. Sometimes people like taking their website down completely for an update but you don't have to because you'll just annoy your visitors if they see a "Pardon Our Dust" page lol.
You will want to learn exactly how 301 redirects work before you start playing around with them on your website(s). You can use 301's to boost your websites rankings, but I feel that will get devalued into oblivion fairly soon due to so many marketers purchasing old domains and 301'ing them. Be smart when redirecting to a new domain, do it before you migrate your content to keep all the SEO benefits you've built up over the past months or years.
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