If you don’t know what a 301 redirect is, don’t feel bad – a lot of small business owners don’t know what 301 redirects are.
Let’s put it this way, if you have an office on Main Street and you move, you probably will put up a sign in the old location with the new address saying, “We’ve moved! Please come and see us at our new location!”
Same idea for a 301 redirect.
You want to help users and Google go from the old page to the new page when you delete an old page or change the URL, which is the web address.
We don’t want any broken links for our people or for Google!
You want a pleasant, easy experience for your users and you want to play nicely with Google so that you can rank as highly as possible in search results.
Also, you will be happy to know that a large percentage of ranking power does get passed to the new link (estimates are as high as 90-99%.)
How to Do 301 Redirects
The basic idea is that you make a table with the old addresses and the new addresses.
In the early days of the web, it was difficult to do this. You needed to go into the code. But if you are using WordPress, you will be happy to know it is easy to do your 301 redirects. There is a plugin to help you: Simple 301 Redirects
Once you install the plugin, start putting your urls in the table. It is that easy!
Advanced Tip #1 – Short URLs for Convenience & Longer Descriptive URLs
You might have a situation where you want to send people a short URL for convenience, but you want the actual content to have a longer url so it is properly descriptive and has relevant keywords in it. You can use 301 redirects this way as well. For example, I did an SEO video series and I had short urls that I shared with people such as jillholman.com/episode1. But the official urls were more descriptive as to what each episode was about such as jillholman.com/episode-1-what-is-seo. And I put in 301 redirects to link the short urls to the longer urls.
Advanced Tip #2 – Annual Review and Cleanup
Now, after you have been doing this for a while, you might have had several pages with similar names that changed several times. You might have even started off with one name, switched to another and later decided to go back to the original name. You might have made a loop! Without a doubt, at some point you will find you have some messiness in your table. It is a good idea every so often (at least once a year) to review all of your 301 redirects and delete any that are no longer needed.
Advanced Tip #3 – Review 404 Errors & Make 301 Redirects for Them
Your Search Console tells you about 404 errors that your people are getting. These are broken links on your website that people are experiencing. Remember, we don’t want that! So you should put in 301 redirects for these errors. Also, if you are using Yoast’s SEO plugin, you can hook up to your Search Console right in your website backend to monitor and fix your broken links easily.
Bonus tip – check your 404 page and be sure it is helpful to people instead of frustrating!
Need help with your 301 redirects? Let’s talk.