“301” is an HTTP standing code for a everlasting redirect from one URL to a different. 301 redirects sometimes point out a web page has been moved, deleted, or up to date — sending guests and search bots to the brand new URL.
301 redirects are important for web site rebrands and restructures to protect site visitors and exterior backlinks.
Regardless of their significance, 301s redirects can do extra hurt than good if improperly executed.
Google’s founding premise for natural rankings was based mostly on the quantity and high quality of hyperlinks to a web page — i.e., hyperlink fairness. However what occurs to rankings when the web page is 301-redirected to a different?
Ten years in the past, Google’s Matt Cutts mentioned a 301 redirect reduces a small quantity of hyperlink fairness.
Then, in 2016, Moz printed a case examine addressing how a lot is misplaced. Per the examine, a 301 redirect causes a 15% drop in natural site visitors. A series of redirects — web page A redirects to web page B which redirects to web page C — produces a 15% discount for each.
The examine redirected a web page from /barstool.html to /bar-tool.html to /29-inch-bar-stool.html. The consequence was a constant lack of natural site visitors.
Furthermore, there was no proof of restoration months afterward.
In 2022, Google’s John Mueller kind of confirmed that 301 redirects can scale back hyperlink fairness, stating it’s greatest to replace hyperlinks relatively than redirect them.
Mueller tweeted in 2017 that redirects needs to be used for “1:1 substitute URLs” — presumably redesigns and rebrands. A 301 redirect to an unrelated web page may end in Google passing no hyperlink fairness, equivalent to a standing code “404,” signaling the web page now not exists.
Therefore, don’t redirect the web page of an expired product even when the brand new product is comparable. Let the expired product web page say “Offered out” and embody a hyperlink on that web page for the brand new merchandise. Sure, it’s an additional step for customers, but it surely prevents confusion from touchdown on an sudden web page. And it preserves a minimum of a little bit of hyperlink fairness.
Dos and Don’ts
Right here’s how I’ve come to make use of 301 redirects after a decade of website positioning.
- Keep away from URL adjustments if doable. I’ve by no means seen a redirected web page completely retain its authentic rating.
- Keep away from 301s for inner hyperlinks. When altering a web site’s area title or construction, change all inner hyperlinks to the brand new URLs. By no means redirect them.
- Replace a web page earlier than redirecting it. If you’ll want to redirect a web page, replace its content material to match the brand new web page and let Google index the unique URL. Then, redirect it. That can allow Google to know each pages are equivalent and cross hyperlink fairness via the redirect. Likewise, for a brand new area title, replace the content material of the previous web site to match the brand new one. Let Google crawl the previous web site earlier than redirecting it. Assist Google perceive the redirects are for precise replacements.
- Beware of buying a web site for the backlinks. Assume twice earlier than shopping for a web site to redirect its hyperlink fairness. The redirects won’t possible work except the pages are almost equivalent.
Organising a 301 redirect is deceptively simple. Plugins for WordPress and apps for Shopify seem to do the job and not using a developer. However these shortcuts aren’t failsafe.
Inadvertently omitting hyperlinks — inner or exterior — may cause severe rating drops. By no means implement 301s and not using a complete technique involving content material updates, maps of previous and new URLs, and thorough checking afterward.