Let’s start with an obvious question: what is a 301 redirect?
The 301 redirect permanently redirects both users and search engines to a desired webpage. It’s comparable to changing your address, where you still keep all the money or debt you may have. Likewise, a 301 redirect changes the address or URL shown to users and search engines while keeping the authority of the page or website. It is the preferred redirect method for SEO purposes.
For the purpose of this article, you can use two types of redirects: onsite and offsite.
An onsite redirect takes place within a single domain.
An offsite redirect takes place between separate domains.
This article will focus specifically on the second option, redirects between separate domains.
301 vs. 302 Redirects
While a 301 redirect is permanent, the 302 redirect is temporary. John Mueller from Google recently spoke about the different kinds of redirects.
To paraphrase, a 302 redirect isn’t necessarily bad for your website. The first time Google reads a 302 redirect, they assume it is temporary and that they should index the original URL. If Google reads the 302 a couple times, they will try to read the 302more like a 301 and assume the redirect is more permanent.
Professionals in the SEO industry recommend using and implementing a 301 redirect. Many debate about whether 302 redirects actually pass “link juice,” and if they do, it is only because Google thinks it should be a 301 redirect. Regardless, it makes the most sense to properly implement the right kind of redirect, and in most cases, that will be a 301 redirect.
How Do I Properly Implement a 301 Redirect?
The process of implementing a 301 redirect can get very technical and depends on the kinds of files you have on your website. If you have a hosting company, you can usually implement domain redirects on the server level. Call your hosting company and let them know what pages you want redirected. Moz provides a detailed guide, if you wish to do the redirect on your own.
The biggest problem I see when people redirect domains is redirecting an entire website to one page on the new website.
For example, someone may redirect all of the URLs below to one new domain:
mywebsite.com/Contact-us redirected to mynewwebsite.com
Follow these proper steps when redirecting a website:
- Compile a list of pages from the current website that will be redirected (mywebsite.com).
- Compile a list of pages from the new website that you will redirect to (mynewwebsite.com).
- Compare the two lists and match specific pages with new relevant pages.
- Instead of redirecting the whole website, redirect each page on the website to its new relevant page. Hopefully your hosting company can take care of the redirects. If not, follow the guide referenced above.
Once you follow this process, your pages should look like this:
mywebsite.com/Contact-us redirected to mynewwebsite.com/Contact-us
A properly implemented 301 redirect offers tremendously positive effects on a new website, including transferred authority. And as you may already know, this authority is instrumental in search engine visibility. An improperly or forgotten 301 redirect can impede and digress your SEO efforts. The next time you need to implement a domain-wide redirect, remember these steps, and you will be good to go!