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What are 301 Directs and Why Do You Need Them?

June 2, 2017 // By: Dan Petrovitch

A 301 redirect is an HTTP status code that serves as a mechanism for permanent redirection from one URL to another. In other words, if your visitor goes to the address for page A, it’ll send them to page B.

Furthermore, it’ll group different URLs together for search engine optimization purposes. So, in this example, hits for both addresses (A and B) will contribute to a common domain authority score. Check out Moz’s helpful article for more information about domain authority.

Why Do You Need to Set Up a 301 Redirect?

There are several reasons to create a 301 redirect.

First, if you want to direct traffic from other pages owned by your organization. Let’s say you’re with an automotive dealership, and you want to promote a major long-term offer on used cars. You could utilize a 301 redirect to send traffic from your website’s used car homepage to a special section on the deal.

Next, if you want to rename or rebrand your website. A 301 redirect allows users who aren’t yet aware of the change to still find your site. It also ensures that traffic direct towards your old domain is contributing to your new one’s credibility with web crawlers for various search engines.

Finally, to associate minute variations of your URL with each other. For example – without a 301 redirect, hits for the following URLs would all contribute to different domain authority scores: streamcompanies.com, www.streamcompanies.com, and http://www.streamcompanies.com. Imagine how disastrous this would be for any SEO campaign!

301 Redirects vs Other Types of Redirects

In addition to the powerful and versatile 301 redirect, there are some other types. However, these might not be as useful for your business’s online strategy.

  • 302 Redirect – In the HTTP 1.0 version, this code is a “moved temporarily” status. In the HTTP 1.1 version, it’s a “found” status. 302 redirects are not very useful for improving your search engine rankings; they’re more suitable as a temporary fix, like if your website is down for maintenance.
  • 307 Redirect – This “moved temporarily” status is only compatible with HTTP 1.1, and it doesn’t add to the new domain name’s ranking power.
  • Meta Refresh – For redirections within the page, rather than on the server (e.g. “if you aren’t redirected in five seconds, click here”).

While these methods of redirection have their purposes, none of them are particularly effective at boosting your website’s authority with popular search engines. If you’re interested in moving your page up through the ranks, browse this technical index of how to code 301 redirects.

Best Practices & Mistakes to Avoid

  1. Don’t switch to a new domain without a 301 redirect.
  2. Always use a 301 redirect instead of a 302, 307, or meta refresh.
  3. Create redirects for older links as you update your website. This will provide your visitors with the most streamlined user experience possible.
  4. Set up redirects between similar URL formats, such as http:// and http://www.

Stream’s Kick-Start Step: Take a comprehensive survey of your company’s website, including previous URLs and outdated internal links. Draft an action plan to develop 301 redirects that will enhance both your visitor’s experience and your webpage’s domain authority score.

In plain English, 301 redirects are an innovative way to make sure that your visitors are landing on the correct page, while significantly advancing your team’s search engine optimization efforts. If you’d like to learn more about the many benefits of effective SEO techniques, download our free E-Book: How Stream Companies Does SEO.

Topics: Digital Marketing, SEO Strategy