Redirection consists of automatically redirecting the visitor from one URL to another. It can take several forms, including the 301 redirect, which is permanent. Comparable to a redirection of mail at the Post office during a change of address, this technique is essential to know to manage a website effectively.
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What is a 301 redirect?
The 301 redirection corresponds to a permanent redirection from URL A to URL B. The Internet user who goes to URL A will then automatically access URL B, without having to take any additional steps.
Difference Between 301 and 302 Redirect
While the 301 redirect is permanent, the 302 is temporary. It is generally used for a short time, to redirect visitors to a page when the main website, for example, is being redesigned. When a 302 redirect is set up, the original page still remains indexed in Google, without any transfer of value to the new temporary URL. It is for this reason that it should be banned if the URL change is permanent. Indeed, the 301 redirection must be favored, in order to bring to the new URL the value and authority of the old one.
Why do a 301 redirect?
In summary, the 301 redirect gives the opportunity:
- To avoid a 404 error.
- To redirect the user invisibly.
- To keep the link juice (link juice) from the original page.
Be careful, a 301 redirect should always be beneficial for the visitor, above all else. It should not be deployed for traffic diversion purposes. Since this redirection makes it possible to transfer the link juice from page A to page B, many abuses have been observed. Indeed, these redirects have been abused to take advantage of the popularity of old abandoned sites. The 301 redirect then made it possible to point the URL in question to their main site and save considerable time in SEO. We also speak of “Black hat” practice: it is a question of using techniques that do not comply with Google’s rules to increase its referencing.
6 examples of using a 301 redirect
The 301 redirect has certain advantages, both for the user and for search engines. It can be used in several scenarios.
In case of duplicate content
When a site has many product sheets or a large number of articles or guides, it is not uncommon for there to be duplicate content. It may be worth cleaning up the site to group similar content together and prevent them from cannibalizing each other in search engine results. When two pages are similar, it is recommended to keep the one that brings the most traffic and is the best referenced, and to use a 301 redirect for the second. This technique avoids being penalized by Google for duplicate content.
Following a change of domain name
Changing a domain name can sometimes be essential, whether following a change in brand name or strategy. The 301 redirect avoids losing the authority of the old site, which often represents years of work and effort. It allows not to start from scratch during a change of domain name and to keep the juice of incoming links.
To replace outdated content
When content is deleted on a site, a 404 error page appears. A regrettable situation for the Internet user, who cannot access the content sought, and for natural referencing. Indeed, if search engine robots repeatedly crawl error pages on a site, the impact is negative for the latter’s SEO. It is therefore preferable to opt for a 301 redirect to redirect the Internet user to a similar page, so that he finds content close to that initially sought. Be careful, however, not to abuse this method. If a deleted page has no equivalent content on the site, then it is better to enter a 410 code. This tells Google that the page in question has been permanently deleted, unlike the 404 code which simply says that the content cannot to be found: a nuance that has all its importance.
When a product is no longer available on an e-commerce site
This situation is common for e-merchants. When the stock of a product is definitely exhausted, it’s a shame to delete a page that brings traffic and is already well positioned in search engines. However, repeatedly coming across unavailable products can be a source of frustration for the potential customer. The best solution is to make a 301 redirect to a substitute product or, failing that, to the main category of the product.
To redirect the main domain to a subdomain
The URLs “hubspot.fr” and “www.hubspot.fr” redirect to the same domain and yet, without redirection, Google will consider that they are two separate sites. This poses a problem with duplicate content: the search engine may think that one of the sites is a copy of the other, which will have a very negative impact on SEO. The 301 redirect solves this problem.
To migrate the site to HTTPS
The HTTPS protocol makes it possible to secure online transactions. It is also a criterion used by Google for the referencing of a site: for this reason, many sites have therefore crossed the threshold of migration. The operation is not as simple as it looks since it is actually necessary to carry out a 301 redirection for all the pages of the site towards an HTTPS version. For information, the Chrome browser, for example, blocks the display of HTTP sites with a security alert, which can cause a considerable loss of traffic.
Knowing the different redirections and their usefulness is essential to properly manage a website. Using the 301 redirect may be necessary in several situations, in order to preserve the fluidity of navigation but also to maintain or optimize positioning in search engine results. However, it is only one element among many others to work on the SEO of a site and to generate quality traffic!
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