Ultimate Guide To 301 Redirects, How To Use 301 Redirects for SEO
When you understand how to properly use 301 redirects, you have the opportunity to seriously improve your brand’s SEO. There are some really great 301 redirect tactics that everyone should know to get better results. In this guide, we’re going to go over everything you need to know about 301 redirects.
Before getting started, we should explain what a 301 redirect is. This is essentially a status code that alerts search engines that a permanent redirect has been put in place. When search engines come across the redirect status code they will remove the old URLs and domains from their index. Once the redirect is in place, the new URL will be recognized by the search engine.
Now that you know what a 301 redirect does, we’re going to go over some of the most frequently asked questions about them and everything else you need to know.
A 301 redirect will affect how a website ranks on search engines. It will be ranked from the perspective of its technical content and link-building qualities. Depending on how it’s used, the 301 redirects could have either a positive or negative effect.
Many search engines will use PageRank or link juice as some people refer to it. The 301 redirects will pass PageRank. As of now, PageRank will pass any 30X redirect. However, in the past, some 30X redirects, like 302, weren’t able to pass. For this reason, it’s recommended that you only use 301 redirects.
301 redirects and canonical tags are different from one another. This is because 301 redirects are used to move a page that is no longer going to be visible. Canonical tags, on the other hand, are used when the page is still visible and are only visible to search engines.
It’s very important that you begin this process with an audit. One of the best apps to use for handling the technical side of your 301 redirects is Screaming Frog SEO Spider. Follow this checklist to make sure the audit gets done correctly:
Every website should have an SSL certificate installed, but even with one, there’s still a chance that some URL links may still be unsecured. Any link that isn’t secure will need to be directed to a secure URL by the 301 redirects. Luckily, Screaming Frog SEO Spider makes this process very easy. All you need to do is enter the root domain into their search bar to start the analysis. Make sure you click on the “Protocol” option and select “HTTP” off of the dropdown menu. In this section, you will find all of the links that aren’t secure.
There are two types of redirect issues that come up: 302 redirects and redirect chains. Let’s take a look at each to see how you can fix these problems.
302 Redirect: You will be able to find these issues by clicking on the “Response Codes” tab on the top bar and selecting “Redirection (3xxx)” from the dropdown menu. From here, you should be able to change the 302s to 301s, unless they are used correctly.
Redirect Chains: A redirect chain is when one redirect takes you to another redirect page. In a nutshell, instead of being redirected from page A straight to page C, you’re being redirected from page A to page B then redirected over to page C. When this happens, it’s hurting your website’s chances of passing PageRank.
You can fix this by opening up the “Reports” section of Screaming Frog SEO Spider and clicking on “Redirect Chains”. From here, you can go through and clean up and existing chains.
If you have any accidental 404 pages or ones with existing backlinks. You can use both Screaming Frog and Google Search Console to find these. When you gather all your 404 pages, you’ll need to see if any of them have existing backlinks. You will need to either redirect these pages to a relevant page or the homepage.
If you’re using multiple keywords or phrases that are very similar to one another then you could be doing more harm than good. This is known as “keyword cannibalism” and can have a negative effect on your SEO. If you’re in this boat, then you will need to use the cake technique.
This technique can consolidate many similar content assets into one single asset known as the Mother. There are many benefits to this process, such as:
A great way to use 301 redirects is for link building when an old brand merges with a new company website. When people go to the old link, the 301 redirects will take them to the new company page. This offers more site authority and better rankings, which can result in higher traffic.
However, one thing you will want to avoid is using the old redirect approach for link building. This approach could be dangerous to your ratings and it’s not effective anymore. The old approach involved taking any high-traffic URL and using 301 redirects to bring it to your page. There are several reasons why this isn’t a good idea:
Merging is the new approach when it comes to link building. It only uses relevant backlinks so you can continue to get high-quality traffic. This works simply because you are sticking to what expired domains are still relevant. Instead of building upon more irrelevant links, you’re merging the content with another business site.
Before merging your content over to a new website, make sure you go through every URL so the content only gets redirected to a relevant page. You may need to 404 some pages if you can not find a relevant match. This is okay because irrelevant redirects will lower the website’s value.
You may be wondering if you should redirect the content through a hosting provider or your registrar. We recommend using a hosting provider you will be able to optimize the content on a page-to-page basis, so only relevant URLs get redirected. The registrar redirect will end up redirecting every link to the homepage, which could result in poor rankings on search engines.
One of the most important things to keep in mind with the merging technique is that quality matters. You will be much more successful if you only 301 redirect a fraction of high-quality URLs than sending a redirect with every page. If this technique is applied correctly, you may see a great impact with only a few redirects.