The 301 Redirect and Its Effect on SEO
Posted on March 5, 2014
The 301 Redirect and Its Effect on SEO
If you’re not very familiar with the technical aspects of the internet, then a 301 redirect probably sounds foreign to you. Before I made it a point to learn everything and anything I can about the world wide web, I have to admit that a 301 redirect pretty much means the same to me as a 302 or a 404 or any of those numbered errors web pages keep churning out. In other words, they’re all the same to me.
Except they’re not really all the same, you know? And it’s actually important how one differs from others, especially if you’re thinking of fully optimizing your site for SEO. So, let me go ahead and discuss what a 301 redirect is, first, and then let’s talk about how that affects SEO, alright?
So, what is a 301 redirect? To make it really, really simple, it’s your web page’s way of saying “Sorry, we’ve moved.”
According to the dictionary, to redirect means to direct someone or something to a different place or by a different route. In web design terms, that means assigning a different URL to an existing web page. Of course, it doesn’t always mean just that. Sometimes, the redirection will bring visitors to a new page that has a totally different design, code , ways of navigation and what-have-you.
Again, it’s comparable to say moving a business from one location to another. Sometimes, the “we’ve moved notice” will tell you of the new location and the shop will look exactly the same. Other than being in a different locale, it’s the very same shop. But sometimes, the new shop barely looks like the old one – the name could have been changed, the interior design updated, the target market adjusted and so on and so forth.
Well, that’s one way to move…
Now, apply that analogy to a web page and you have your 301 redirect, capisce?
Okay, then. So why or when do people choose to redirect a page anyway?
- The URL is broken or doesn’t work.
- The website is no longer active.
- You want people to check out the new improved site instead of the old one.
- You want to test the new site for design and functionality.
- The webpage is currently under repair and you want to temporarily redirect the visitors so you don’t lose them while your original site is on downtime.
Redirecting a web page is not hard to do, either. It’s a simple matter of putting a .php code into the public_html folder in your web host. Here’s a quick sample. This will use a 301 redirect page to the URL you want.
$redirectlink = ‘http://www.puttheredirectedwebpageurlhere.com‘;
//do not edit below here
header (‘HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently’);
Real quick, a 301 redirect is:
- a permanent redirect
- includes page rank, MozRank, page authority and traffic value
- removes the old page from the Google index and the new one is set to replace it
So in case you’re really not paying attention to me, listen now: a 301 redirect is permanent, for good, cannot be changed back. It’s a COMPLETE TAKEOVER. ALL qualities of the original, redirected page will be transferred to the detour page. So if you’re unsure about the whole thing, forget about doing it.
If a temporary redirect is what you want, then what you need is 301’s sister, 302. But that’s a topic for another day.
Let’s just talk real quick about what the 301 will do to your SEO.
First the bad news, it was widely reported a few years ago that 301 redirects will not pass full PageRank. According to many experts, redirecting will dilute your web page’s PageRank. In normal talk, that basically means all the hard work you have previously put to appear on page 1 of search engine results pages (SERPs) could be undone.
But there’s some good news, too. Google’s own Matt Cutts all but called bullsh*t on that whole theory. According to Cutts, the “amount of PageRank that dissipates through a 301 is currently identical to the amount of PageRank that dissipates through a link.”
So will a 301 redirect hurt your SEO? The quick answer is NO. So there’s really no bad news, sorry. #notsorry