The importance of boosting the SEO ranking and trust of the website cannot be ignored. When you update your website, some links may probably change. Users may access the old URLs and get 404 errors. Don’t worry about that because 301 redirects will take care of that. Let's look at what a 301 redirect is and how to utilize it.
What is 301 Redirection?
Redirect is an action that leads visitors from one URL to another. There are many different types of redirects such as 301, 302, 307, and so on.
In which, a 301 redirect is a permanent redirect type. That means users will always be directed to the new permanent URL when they visit the old ones. This will be kept forever, unchanged. This is different from other types of redirects, which are usually only temporary for a short period of time like when you need to upgrade your website.
If you change your website domain permanently, you will definitely need to use 301 redirects to automatically redirect. So, all users entering the old domain will be moved to access the new domain.
In addition, you can apply 301 redirects to replace the URL unoptimized for SEO with new better URLs.
In particular, after you have changed the links of posts or pages, users will get a 404 error when accessing the old URLs. In this case, you can use 301 redirects to move users to the new link of these pages or posts, or even to other relevant content pages.
Benefits of 301 Redirects
Improve the Retention and User Experience
Surely you will better make your visitors stay on your website longer as well as increase their experiences if you use 301 redirects.
When users visit a certain URL and get a 404 error, they will feel uncomfortable or have a bad impression of the website. They may leave the page immediately when encountering this error. They may never visit the website again although your website is at the top on the search result pages. If you keep doing so, the number of visitors to your website will decrease and the web indexes may be quite bad.
To solve this problem, you can use 301 redirects to direct visitors to your “new home address” so that users can get exactly what they need instead of seeing an error message.
In addition, if that old content has been removed, you can also use 301 redirects to send visitors to another page with related content to read. Maybe they will find what they need in other posts on your website.
When redirecting links like that, at least users can always access some related information to find what they need on your website. Surely reading these contents will be more interesting than reading an error message. That way, your website bounce rate will be lower. Your users will probably stay longer to read more.
As I mentioned above, 301 redirects greatly improve retention and user experience for your website. And for SEO, this is the first and foremost factor that search engines base on to rank your website.
When a good user experience goes hand in hand with good web indexes, your website will be definitely on the top!
Besides, with 301 redirects, you can also apply it directly to optimize URLs for posts or pages on your website. If the post’s URL doesn’t include keywords, you can edit it to have a new URL and use 301 redirects.
301 Redirect is also a relatively effective method to remove duplicate posts/content, or posts containing keyword cannibalization. To make it clear, if your website has 2 articles aimed at the same keyword, Google will not know which article to rank for. As a result, they’re both ranked lower by Google - very dangerous, right? To avoid this situation, SEOers often merge or combine the two articles into one and use 301 redirects. Therefore, your posts will get higher rankings, and your website will also avoid keywords cannibalization and SEO score decreasing.
What if you change the website domain completely as I mentioned above? When you use 301 redirects, you are telling the search engines that you have changed to a completely new domain. In that case, your SEO results are still preserved from the old "home address" to the new "home address". This is extremely beneficial because if you don't do so, you have to do SEO from the scratch.
With such benefits, there is no reason to skip 301 redirects, right? Let's see how to use it to apply on your website.
How to Set Up 301 Redirects in WordPress
Method 1: Use Code to Create 301 Redirect
This method requires you to use the htaccess file on your server. To create a 301 redirect, you must add additional code in this file. The code will depend on your request to redirect the link.
As you can see, you have to know how to code to do this. It may be difficult for ones who are nontechnical. So I will talk about this method in another post. For now, I will show you a simpler and more accessible way.
Method 2: Use a Plugin to Create a 301 Redirect
There are many plugins that can help you do this such as Redirection, Safe Redirect Manager, All In One Redirection,... However, I found Redirection to be the easiest to use, so I used it and will share it in this post.
Step 1: Install and Activate The Redirection Plugin
Go to the admin dashboard and then go to the menu Plugin > Add New. Then find the Redirection plugin, install and activate it.
Step 2: Set Up The Redirection Plugin
After installing and activating it, you can't use it to redirect 301 immediately. You must set up this plugin first before creating redirections.
In the list of plugins, click Settings right under the name of the Redirection plugin to go to its settings page.
On the setup page, click Start Setup.
Then, you will see several options. You can read and choose any options depending on your demands. Next, click Continue Setup > Finished to complete the setup.
After this step, you can create redirect links.
Step 3: Create a 301 Redirect for URL you want
You will see the Redirection submenu added to the Tools menu.
Click Redirection > Add new to create a new redirection.
In the new window, you will see the two most important fields, which are: Source URL (old URL) and Target URL (new URL you want to send users to). Please fill in these 2 fields.
In addition, you may see more options like Group to categorize redirections. If you have many redirected links, you can put them into different groups for easy management, searching, or editing.
In addition, Redirection plugin also gives you other setting options.
- On the Group tab, you can create groups and edit the group information that you will use for redirected links.
- On the Site tab: when you change the domain of your website, you will need to use the Relocate Site feature in this tab. Enter the new domain of the website in the Relocate Site section, everything except the WordPress login and admin pages will be redirected to the new domain. Besides, you can also use Site Aliases in this tab when you want another domain to be redirected to your site.
- When you want to check if anyone has changed your redirections, you can go to the Log tab.
- With the 404s tab, you will know which links in your websites are having 404 errors.
Step 4: Check The Result
Now, let’s check if your 301 redirected links work. This is the link that I redirected for my post.
It is successful in creating a 301 redirect for my post. Is it fast and easy?
I hope that this post has helped you have a better understanding of what 301 redirects are and how they work. As I've discussed the benefits of 301 redirects, I believe you may take advantage of even more of them. Please give it a go and let us know how it goes in the comments area. Thank you for reading, and don't forget to keep an eye out for my next posts! Good luck!