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301 Redirects for SEO: Everything You Need to Know

301 Redirects for SEO: Everything You Need to Know

301 redirects are a standard part of the modern world wide web. However, there are uses beyond the basics that can positively impact your SEO and help you dominate search rankings.

In this comprehensive guide, we hope to help you navigate the world of 301 redirects and learn about the following topics:

What is a 301 Redirect?

A 301 redirect is a permanent type of redirect that sends users from one page URL to a designated URL.

When a user enters a URL in their browser or clicks on a link, the browser sends a request to the website server. The server then recognizes the request and transmits the data associated with the URL back to the browser. With a custom redirect in place, we add a step in the process by forwarding the user from the entered URL to your preferred URL.

As an example, let's use the analogy of calling someone on the phone. When you enter a specific number, you're requesting to make contact with a specific individual. If the connection is successful (the person picks up), the request is successful. If they are not available or the number is no longer active, it will redirect your request to voicemail or automated message.

In either case, the user can access an available destination and gain some feedback regarding the request. This is preferable to receiving no feedback, or in the case of the internet, receiving an uninformative 404.

What is 301 Redirect?

When Should I Use a 301 Redirect?

You should utilize a 301 redirect in the following instances:

  • You updated a page with a new URL
  • You deleted the page from your website
  • You want to send users to a newer, updated page
  • You are consolidating two similar pages to alleviate duplicate content issues

You should not use a 301 redirect for temporary changes. If you need to temporarily take down a webpage for an undetermined amount of time, you will want to utilize a 302 redirect instead. These two processes are similar, but the latter tells users and search engines that the change is not permanent.

Do 301 Redirects Affect SEO?

When making significant changes to your website, there's always a reasonable concern that it will negatively impact your SEO. You would be completely justified in this concern as it takes months to achieve meaningful progress in improving your page ranking.

You can breathe a sigh of relief because 301 redirects do not negatively impact your SEO when implemented correctly.

Google understands that 3XX requests are a standard part of today's browsing experience. It also wants website owners to improve the user experience by ensuring that a user finds themselves at their desired destination. Knowing this fact, not only does a 301 redirect get users to the new location, but it also transfers all accrued page authority to the new URL.

301 Redirection Chart
  • 302 Redirects and SEO

302 redirects operate a bit differently, however. When you implement a temporary redirect, you will forward the user from the previous URL to the new one. The difference is that the accrued page authority stays with the old page. This way, all of your SEO efforts remain intact and are not impacted by the temporary alterations.

In both instances, website owners maintain total control over the value of their website pages. You should readily take advantage of 301 and 302 redirects when applicable to provide your users with a better browsing experience.

How Redirects Impact Your Backlinks?

Your backlinks profile is another key segment of SEO you'll want to be mindful of when considering 301 redirects. Backlinks are links from external domains that direct their traffic to your website. Having a healthy backlinks profile can improve your SEO and domain authority when you associate with other trusted domains.

When a backlink links users to a page on your website that cannot be found, you effectively lose all the benefits of that backlink. That traffic has no way to access your content and the website linking to your domain will receive a negative hit for directing them to a nonexistent location.

While a failure to redirect a backlinked page doesn't count against you, it doesn't allow you to reap your hard-earned benefits, either. By setting up a 301 redirect, you'll continue to receive any SEO benefits from being associated with that domain. If you cannot set up a redirect, you should supply the external website's webmaster with the updated URL.

Redirect 404 pages Using 301 Redirection

How to 301 Redirect a Page?

Implementing a 301 redirect is a straightforward process. However, this process will vary depending on the types of pages featured within the redirect process.

1. Simple Redirection - An Old Page to a New Page

This is the most common type of redirect and likely the one you wish to use for your website. Note that if you are utilizing a traditional or hybrid CMS like WordPress, there are plugins that can effectively do this process for you. If this applies to you, check out SEO Redirection.

WARNING - Before configuring your site's root directory, backup files of all of your existing website pages. In the event of a critical error, you'll be able to quickly restore your existing site and get back online.

To do a common 301 redirect with Apache servers:

1. Access your website's root directory. What you're looking for is a file titled .htaccess.

1a. If you do not have a .htaccess file, create one by using Wordpad or Notepad. Save it as an empty text file with the name .htaccess. Upload this to your root directory.

2. Open the file. Enter the following lines into the document:

Redirect 301 /old-page-name.html

Note - If your redirect does not work properly, your old page name may require you to enter the full file path in front of the text provided above.

3. Save the updated file in the root directory.

Bonus Step: Test that your 301 redirect works for yourself. If it is not successful, it can be for one of the following reasons:

  • There is an error in your code or pathway names
  • Your site is not hosted on an Apache server. If this is the case, contact your host provider for specific instructions on how you should implement your redirect.

2. Redirecting Your Entire Domain to a New Domain

Site migration is not uncommon, but you should not attempt to do so unless both websites are live and functional. Even with your new site live, your old site will still need to host the .htaccess file to enable domain redirects.

This process will only work if you are changing the domain name only. Your site navigation and page pathways will remain the same. For example:

301 Redirects to

1. Access the old website's root directory. Locate your .htaccessā  file.

2. Open the file. Enter the following line into the document:

Redirect 301 /

3. Save the file in the updated root directory.

Bonus Step: Test that the new domain redirect is working properly. If it is not working, the cause is likely:

  • An error in the code. Double-check your .htaccess file
  • The page pathways on the old domain are not identical to the new domain. If the site navigation is not the same on your new domain, you will need to create 301 redirects for each page.

3. Redirecting Your Non-www Site to www

Whether you utilize a naked domain or a world wide web domain, the differences are negligible when it comes to SEO benefits. Your choice to switch to www will amount to a few technical improvements that may provide small improvements to your website operation.

To set up this redirect:

1. Access the old website's root directory. Locate your .htaccess file.

2. Open the file. Enter the following line into the document:

RewriteEngine OnRewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^ [NC]RewriteRule ^(.*)$$1 [L,R=301]

3. Save the file in the updated root directory.

4. Redirect an HTTP Site to an HTTPS Site

Similar to the domain migration section, you will need to have both versions of your site live and active for this to work. You will need the original .htaccess file to run the redirect script necessary to access the new site. You must also purchase and implement an SSL certificate on the new website.

1. Access the old website's root directory. Locate your .htaccess file.

2. Open the file. Enter the following line into the document:

RewriteEngine OnRewriteCond %{HTTPS} offRewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://%{HTTP_HOST}%{REQUEST_URI} [L,R=301]

3. Save the file in the updated root directory.

Bonus Step: Manually verify that every page on your site now utilizes the HTTPS protocol. If the above is not working, double-check your code.

Use 301 Redirects to Improve Your SEO and Website Content

Now that you have a strong knowledge of when and how to utilize 301 redirects, let's take a look at a specific use case. Knowing when to replace existing web pages and utilize a redirect can yield substantial positive impacts for your domain authority.

Use 301 Redirects to Improve Your SEO
  • Combine Two Similar Pages into One Super Page

Despite our best efforts and countless requests to implement a content calendar, it's almost inevitable to run into content on your site that's too close in similarity. One of two things typically happen in these instances:

  • One or both pages receive a penalty for duplicate content
  • One or both pages see a decrease in ranking and authority due to keyword cannibalization

All websites should strive to feature one primary page as their source of information on a particular subject. If two topics are similar and related, but can ultimately be distinguished as unique, this should not be an issue. Both individual pages should focus on exploring the elements that differentiate them to avoid content-related issues.

On the other hand, it's not uncommon to see two blog posts with titles such as: X Tips to Improve Your Link Building Strategyā  and Link Building Strategies for Local Businesses. You can see the attempt to appeal to potentially different audiences, but these pages might better users as one complete page that offers comprehensive data on link building.

This is where a 301 redirect strategy comes into play.

First, your content creation and SEO teams should work together to create a brand-new website page. There, you can incorporate the content from both pages to create one super page. We recommend treating this as a new source of content so that you can still target the correct keywords and structure your data in a user-friendly way.

Then, you can set up 301 redirects on both old pages so that they both point users to the new and improved page. Not only does this better serve your audience by collecting all of your content into one place, but all of the SEO benefits from both pages pass to the new, single page.

This means that two middling pages with decent authority can combine to effectively double the page ranking benefits while simplifying your site navigation by removing an unnecessary page.

Common 301 Redirect Errors to Watch Out for-

With the hard work of setting up our redirects out of the way, we can finally relax.

Throughout this article, you gained valuable insight on how to properly use 301 and 302 redirects. You understand the specific use cases for different types of 3XX redirects. You even know specific errors that can happen when implementing a 3XX redirect and how to address them.

Unfortunately, nothing with website development and marketing is ever so simple.

All that's left is to explore the common redirect errors that occur and what you can do to preserve your website's user experience.

1. Remove Your 3XX Pages from Your Sitemap

An XML Sitemap is a tool that you can use to explain your site's layout to search engine crawlers. Manually creating a sitemap also gives you the benefit of highlighting your important pages as well as choosing which pages you wish to exclude for any number of reasons. Among the pages you should exclude from a crawl are your 3XX redirect pages.

We understand two key points regarding Google's relationship with 3XX pages. The first is that they do not impact SEO. The second is that page authority gets transferred from the old page to the new one. Therefore, including the redirect page serves no purpose and can potentially confuse crawlers when navigating the site.

To ensure that Google excludes your 3XX page as requested, keep an eye on organic traffic metrics for that specific page. Users should not be able to discover your redirect page through organic means.

2. Identify and Eliminate Redirect Loops

This type of error generally occurs when there are multiple steps in a redirect chain. The more steps you need to incorporate in the process, the greater likelihood there is for user error. If you accidentally redirect back to a previous step in the chain, it creates a neverending loop.

This can negatively impact your SEO as it ruins the user experience. Your visitor is left waiting only to be greeted by an error message as a result of too many redirect attempts from the server. Double-check your redirect scripts and ensure that they each point to the right destination.

Eliminate Redirect Loops

3. Eliminate Unnecessary Steps in a Redirect Chain

Multiple redirects in succession are annoying for the user and are often unnecessary. Ideally, you want a one-to-one relationship between the old page and the new. Even if four variations of a page existed at different points, you should strive to redirect one version of a page to the latest variation.

4. Keep an Eye on Your External Links

While our other tips encourage you to look out for your own redirects, you also need to be mindful of others' mistakes. If you provide a backlink to an external domain, there is no issue. If that external domain needs to set up a 301 redirect for that page to a new page, there is a potential for a problem on your end.

The reason for this is that you do not know what will appear at the new location following the redirect. If the webmaster updated the URL or switched to a new domain, your external link is secure. If the redirect now points to irrelevant or low-quality content, it can harm your SEO.

Conclusion - Using 301 Redirects Can Positively Impact Your SEO Strategy!

301 redirects are not ranking factors in the eyes of Google's search algorithm. Rather, using 301 redirects correctly can allow you to continue reaping the SEO benefits of older pages that are now outdated.

It's also important to remember that there are different use cases for 3XX pages. We utilize 301 redirects for permanent relocations and 302 redirects for temporary changes. Which one we choose determines how Google handles the transfer of page authority within a website. Understanding how page authority can shift as a result of a redirect can allow you to grant even greater SEO benefits to your website.

However, your redirects must work properly so that you can provide a quality user experience to your visitors. Triple-check your scripts, be mindful of common error indicators, and everything should be smooth sailing. Feel free to utilize 301 redirects liberally whenever applicable to improve your website experience.

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Mobile App

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Unlimited Sub-Accounts

Unlimited Users

All Apps

All Features


Active Community

Mobile App

Live Support

100+ Tutorials