In pure and simple terms a ‘301 Redirect’ is a permanent redirect from one URL to another. For example let’s say you have just launched a new website for your domain www.mygreatnewwebsite.co.uk. Your old website had an ‘about us’ page with the URL www.mygreatnewwebsite.co.uk/aboutus.html but your new website about us page has the URL www.mygreatnewwebsite.co.uk/history.aspx You should set up a 301 redirect so that anyone who has bookmarked the old website page will automatically be redirected to the new one.
A 301 redirect is much like the “change of address form” you would complete if you moved office – if someone doesn’t know you have moved an sends something to your old address, you want to make sure it is re-directed to your new address.
So now we understand what a 301 Redirect is but it is not that straight forward – of course!
Did you know that Google thinks http://www.mygreatnewwebsite.co.uk and http://mygreatnewwebsite.co.uk are two different websites? For effective SEO you should therefore set up a 301 Redirect between the http:// and http://www versions of your website. Even though you might consider them to be one and the same website they are actually two different URL’s and in theory could contain different page content.
It is important to set up the 301 Redirect so that any inbound links pointing to either domain have full ‘authority’ – i.e. they are counted by the search engines for both domains.
If you are setting up a new domain you should set up your 301 Redirect first!
If you are considering setting up a new domain, maybe in connection with a re-brand or to re-launch your image, or on a change of business name you should set up a 301 Re-direct from the old website pages to the new website pages. Even if you want to distance yourself from your old website name you should do this because unless you do any ‘authority’ gained by the old pages will be lost completely in the new website. If you have invested time and money on SEO initiatives, these will be have been totally wasted unless you pass over the authority of the old pages to the corresponding new website pages.
Even large corporate organisations have made mistakes with this, for example, when ‘Toys R Us’ bought Toys.com earlier this year (in an attempt to gain improved search ranking for the word ‘toys’) they forgot to do a 301 Redirect between the two domains which led to it losing its existing SEO authority and resulted in a worse search engine ranking position that it had before the purchase!
If you would like to learn more about effective search engine optimisation please leave a comment below or visit WSI IMS – WSI internet Marketing Services for businesses in Surrey, Sussex, Kent & throughout the South East.