The Importance of 301 Redirects

The Importance of 301 Redirects

by Dave Curtis on 01/19/2011

in Business Issues,Every Day SEO,Small Business SEO

301 Redirects

A lot of what you believe already about SEO is probably false. I’m not talking to my fellow SEOs here but to John Q. Public, the average guy looking for some good SEO but has probably been quoted ridiculously low prices by quick-buck artists out for some beer money for the weekend.

Whenever SEO is done (or re-done) the name of each and every page document in the site needs to be precisely recorded. This is because the search engines are listing these pages somewhere, either way up towards page one or way back towards page infinity. This indexing includes the rare combination of terms typed in by searchers that will occasionally bring them to your site. This also means that if any of those page names are changed (and the very basics of SEO demand that they do change) and no 301 Redirects are in place, you as the site/business owner stand a very good chance of losing a sale. Imagine if your phone number suddenly changed and there was no operator to tell you the new number and offer to connect you to the new number at no additional charge.  Same thing.

The difference between that phone number change example and your web site is that it is much more complicated to change every single document name and at the same time create a 301 for all of those page names than it is to change a single phone number and forward it. The other difference is that there is no operator telling you anything, your site visitor is simply and instantly redirected and never knows he or she has been redirected.

Another very real fact is that your site probably already has “link juice” coming into it from other web sites that have linked to your site’s internal pages over time. Those links can be from friends blogs and web sites, other company web sites, from Facebook posts, Tweets on Twitter or from anywhere else – and lets not forget emailed links sent from your customers to their friends that those friends save for later when they need them. This is the kind of thing that builds what is known as “page rank” which is helpful to the search engines for determining how important the rest of the world regards your site.

As in computer programming working with HTML, CSS, PHP, Javascript and other web programming languages demands absolute precision in all 301 Redirects or your links will break.

Ok – so now we know how and why your “old” pages are important – or at least their old names, anyway – and we also know that if they are simply changed your site will lose rank and you stand to lose business. But the dilemma is that you wanted SEO to increase your rank, increase your traffic and improve your sales – not the other way around!

Happily 301 Redirects fix that problem – but due to the precision complexity and the time involved redirecting dozens, hundreds or even thousands of pages to the newly improved SEOd names that will get you everything you want, the price of correctly done SEO isn’t $250 in beer money. Even at just $3 a page for a hundred pages for the SEO Redirects alone, that doesn’t include any of the other work that needs to be done.

So what does a 301 redirect in the .htaccess file look like? Well, depending on the way the server is set up to handle 301’s it could look a few different ways before it actually will work. In the sample case below (domain name changed) the 301 redirect looks like this:

RewriteEngine On
rewritecond %{http_host} ^
rewriteRule ^(.*)$1 [R=301,L]

redirect 301 /domain-protection/index.html
redirect 301 oindex.html
redirect 301 indexOLD.htm
redirect 301 indexORI.html
redirect 301 index_8_26_04.html

Yet in another case (where the above will not work) the 301 redirect looks like this:

RewriteEngine On
rewritecond %{http_host} ^
rewriteRule ^(.*) http://www.domainnamechanged/$1 [R=301,L]

RewriteBase /
RewriteRule ^index\.html?$ / [NC,R,L]

redirect 301 /old-product-1.html /category/new-product-1/
redirect 301 /old-product-2.html /category2/new-product-2/
redirect 301 /old-product-3.html /category3/new-product-3/

Copyright © 2011 – The Importance of 301 Redirects

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