What are 301 Redirects and Why They Are Important?

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You’ve probably heard of 301 redirects – and that you should be paying attention to them, but what the heck are they?

Content marketers need to grasp many concepts to become SEO masters. Understanding 301 redirects is one of those essential objectives but there are many nuances to a relatively simple concept. In fact, a comprehensive understanding is a vital part of your SEO strategy.

Charting a course into the waters of SEO, you will obviously need tools in your pocket to help accomplish your lofty goals in 2020. 301 redirects are a small piece of that puzzle.

In this article, we will provide a simple explanation of 301 redirects followed by a more intensive study of how understanding what they are can assist in developing a solid content marketing strategy.

What are 301 Redirects?

Let’s start with the basics. What are 301 redirects? Simply put, a 301 redirect indicates that a website has permanently moved from one location to another. The 301 refers to the HTTP status for this type of redirect. A 301 redirect tells a browser this page has moved permanently, and the people who run the website don’t intend on moving back.  

As a concrete example of this phenomenon, I wrote for a hockey website originally called Along the Boards. In a new direction led by our main bloggers, our focus shifted into the collision between hockey and pop culture. This new vision resulted in a new website called Pucks and Recreation. In order to shift our original content from a created site to a brand-new page, the bloggers in charge of the site employed a 301 redirect while our audience adjusted to the new web address.

Using a 301 redirect is essential to maintain a website’s domain authority and easily sends visitors to a different web page without having to type in a different URL.

Why Are 301 Redirects Important for SEO?

There are many reasons why 301 redirects are important for SEO. First, they help your audience and search engines find your website faster. Beyond this fact, 301 redirects are a helpful tool to ensure that the inbound links already present on your website at its original URL also appear on the migrated new domain.

301 redirects also serve as a buffer against making mistakes. For example, if you post a broken link to a page that does not exist on your site, a 301 redirect can help “redirect” visitors to the correct web page. This redirect therefore saves you extra time of deleting the page and can provide you a way of ensuring users find the right website. Learning how to create 301 redirects for different website content management systems, which we will turn to next, will show you how they can be created to fix this issue.

Finally, the last important benefit of using 301 redirects whenever you move your website from one location to another is ad tracking. If your website uses banner ads, you can track responses to them by adding URLs to those ads. Redirects can thus provide a potential avenue of increased eyes on your website which is obviously the goal in content marketing!  

Creating 301 Redirects in WordPress

Now that we have defined what 301 redirects are, we will consider important elements of creating 301 redirects in WordPress, SquareSpace and Wix. Some jargon here may be unfamiliar to you and will be the subject of future posts. However, let’s continue to stick with the main features of how one would create 301 redirects and what purpose they will serve in each of these website management systems.

Starting with WordPress, there are many plug-ins that make adding 301 redirects relatively simple. For example, WordPress has several features that create 301 redirects such as Redirection, Simple 301 Redirects Plugin and the Quick Page/Post redirect.

These plugins can be downloaded and added to WordPress’ content management software. Once downloaded, these plugins all have different advantages to them. For example, the Redirection plugin automatically adds a 301 redirection whenever you change your post at any time.

Of course, not all 301 redirects are created equal as there are many other ways to incorporate 301 redirects into WordPress particularly when it comes to changing the domain now. For now, plug-ins are the simplest way to create them in WordPress.

For detailed instructions on downloading these plugins and where they can be found upon downloading them, as well as a more detailed how-to use 301 redirects in WordPress, check out this blog post from WPism covering 301 redirects in more detail.

Creating 301 Redirects in SquareSpace

SquareSpace is simpler than WordPress in some respects in creating 301 redirects. To create a 301 redirect, you simply navigate to the Home Menu, click Settings and Advanced. You then click URL mappings, click the text box and add the appropriate link. After hitting save, you are ready to go.

However, if you decide to redirect from an existing page to another, you will to enter four elements into SquareSpace: the old URL, the arrow which is a dash followed by a greater than sign, the new URL as well as the type of redirect (in this case 301).

You can see that these redirects are straightforward to set up in SquareSpace. However, like WordPress, there are also more detailed instructions on different types of redirects. Check out their website for more information.

Creating 301 Redirects in Wix

The last website management software we will look at is Wix. Wix’s Help Center specifies you must upgrade your Wix site to a Premium Plan before you can set up 301 redirects. Upon upgrading, go to your site’s dashboard, click marketing tools, then SEO tools, then add a new redirect.

After, you enter the Old URL slug and the New URL slug into the designated slots. Finally, you click save and it’s as simple as that.

For more information on creating 301 redirects in Wix, check out the help portion of their website.  

Future Steps

301 redirects are certainly a useful component of SEO. As you make changes to your content, make sure that you add 301 redirects whenever you re-tool your website.

301 redirects may not be something you use every time you update your website but they are nevertheless an important consideration to remember as you position yourself to become a master in SEO.

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