301s can change your life forever — if you’re setting up a new webpage or even a full website
— especially if you have a different structure.
Maybe you’ve reorganized, or maybe you’re replacing the full site and it’s not practical
to use the same URLs, or maybe you’ve moved domains completely — or locked up “typo”
domains to make sure accidental misspellings and keystrokes still end up taking users to
the right place.
301s are meant to more permanently route traffic to a new location. Not to be confused with
302s which can indicate a temporary relocation of a resource, or 511s™, which are a more
modern, slim fit. Again, 301s are best used when you’re permanently routing incoming
traffic to a new URL.
And there are three main considerations to make — three different areas to look at
when we’re considering whether to use one or more 301 redirects for a website.
The first is Google, and really all modern search engines.
Let’s say we’re searching for your webpage, but you’ve recently replaced your old URL
with a new one.
If you’ve changed this URL and you don’t have a redirect — a 301 set up — people
who click that link are going to see a 404. Not a great user experience.
Instead, if we’ve set up a 301 redirect, when someone clicks that old link to the old
URL, your server will automatically detect that attempt and route people to the new URL
you specified. This is great because it gets everyone to the right spot. And it can indicate
to Google that the page’s URL has changed.
Even without redirects, Google will eventually index your new site structure and these URLs
will get updated. But 301 redirects are absolutely the best practice, especially if you’re
looking to maintain a lot of the ranking power that the older URL had.
The second consideration to make is referral sources all over the internet. Maybe someone
included the old path in a blog post or a forum. 301s — when we create them for these
older links — will ensure that visitors clicking that link can get to the right path
— the new URL — without any trouble.
And the third consideration is usage of that older path in URLs that people might have
bookmarked—or URLs that they might type directly into their browser. Maybe business
cards or other materials were printed or published using your old URL. A 301 is a really great
way to go if you want to make sure that anyone who types in the older URL gets to the right
So. The concepts associated with these three considerations all involve the same thing:
old URLs getting routed to new ones. 301 redirects are a great move whenever you’re making
changes to an existing site’s paths or URL structure—or in any circumstances where
you want to more permanently route traffic from one location to another.