A 301 redirect is as simple as it sounds...a redirect of a current Internet URL to a new Internet URL. The 301 redirect tells all Internet traffic that "you typed in x, but need to go to y, and I'm sending you there now." End users don't get a notice, a banner, or any type of warning; the redirection just happens.
The 301 is one type of redirect, and there are several others. When a 301 is used, it tells the world, specifically search engines, that this is a permanent redirect and that the destination page is the final destination and that the old link most likely no longer exists.
It is very important to use the correct type of redirect, and in most cases it will be a 301 redirect. The biggest reason to use a 301 redirect for changed pages and domain names is to maintain any SEO (Search Engine Optimization) credence that you have built up for your website/brand.
When do you need a 301 Redirect?
There are many reasons. Here are 2:
1) Same Site, Different Page Addresses
Have you ever redesigned your website and discovered that all of your website pages now have new URLs (page links)? For example:
Old Site: http://www.mysite.com/aboutus.html
New Improved Site: http://www.mysite.com/about-us/
This is a case of needing a 301 redirect. Often, when changing your website from one platform or CMS to another, the links for your pages may simply need to change or it's too difficult to keep the page link structure the same.
2) Completely New Site Name
Lets say you finally got the domain name of your dreams. Now you can finally point the rest of the World Wide Web (aka the Internets) to your new cool sounding and very descriptive domain name (eg www.usedcars.com instead of www.thisisareallylongdomainnameifound.com). You may even be able to use the same page link structure. For example:
Old Domain: http://www.reallyreallyreallylongdomainname.com/about-us
New Improved Domain: http://www.shortername.com/about-us
This is also a case of needing a 301 redirect, just done differently. This would need a 301 redirect code that would basically rewrite the domain from the old domain to the new domain so visitors would end up at the new destination.
How do I make a 301 redirect?:
There are several ways to create 301 redirects and all of them are a little more complex than I can explain in a blog post, but here are some of the options:
- Apache mod_rewrite (advanced)
- If you are using cPanel for your hosting, there is an option in cPanel for redirects and it will make them as 301 redirects
- A plugin, if you're using a popular CMS like Wordpress or Joomla (very easy to use)
- Ask your host. Most likely they have a tool in their control panel that will let you do this easily.
- Ask VIEO Design. If we're hosting your site, we'll make it happen for you!