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301 Redirects: what are they and when to use them

Web redirects are nothing new – one site redirecting to another site is something that has been in place for many years. In a previous post and video we discussed the importance of domain aliases and how they work to redirect one website to another while keeping the domain name active. Redirects are different as they forward one domain to another rather than simply using the same content for both domains.

There are a variety of types of redirects and many ways to do them. We will be looking at the importance of a 301 redirect. This is a permanent redirect, which means that you only use a 301 when you are moving a page, post, or entire domain to a new respective page or URL and have no plans on undoing the change. Here are a couple of the more popular reasons why you should use a permanent redirect.

Using 301 redirects when moving posts

Moving posts between websites usually calls for a 301 redirect. If you have been blogging at a specific location, and are going to be moving your blogging efforts to a new website or domain, you may want to transfer your existing posts from the old website to the new site. An example of this is if you are combining a personal website with a business website and you wanted to bring over your previously written personal posts (or at least some of them) onto your new business website.

In this example, you do not want to redirect your entire website, simply the posts that make more sense to be on your business site. The best way to do this is with the following line in your .htaccess file on your personal website:

redirect 301 /url-of-old-post/ http://www.businesswebsite.com/url-of-new-post/

This will forward your old post to the respective post on the new website.

Using 301 redirects when rebranding your business or website

Permanent redirects are also used when changing the brand or domain of a business or website. If you are transitioning from Old Name to New Name, you will likely want to get a new domain name for your website to reflect the changes in your business.

It is very important in this case that you use a 301 redirect in order to push through all your links, pagerank, and anchor text bonuses that your current website has received over its lifetime. Using the following line in your .htaccess file will do the trick:

redirect 301 / http://www.NewName.com/

Not only will this forward your old website to the new site, it will also make sure that Google and other search engines know that it is a permanent change and therefore they will pass all of the link juice and pagerank to the new domain.

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Justin Blanchard

Justin Blanchard

Justin Blanchard is the CMO of ServerMania.