Consider the following 301 redirect situation:
You do a website update and switch from Squarespace to WordPress and in doing so, your blog link structure changes from:
After the switch is complete, any link to the old blog post (with the old link structure) would break and instead go to a nasty “could not load page” error. Imagine this scenario playing out across the old site and all of the pages and posts on it. Ugh!
As you can imagine, this would cause major issues for visitors who previously saved links to your posts and also for Google, who would now see all of your old site links, it previously indexed, as broken. Double Ugh!!
Don’t worry though, all is not lost. There is a way to avoid the chaos.
Enter the 301 Redirect to help you save your web traffic and keep Google and your visitors happy.
Using the power of the 301 Redirect, you would tell the browser to redirect the visitor to the new site address when they visit the old site address. Awesome right?!
According to Google Webmaster:
“If you need to change the URL of a page as it is shown in search engine results, we recommended that you use a server-side 301 redirect. This is the best way to ensure that users and search engines are directed to the correct page. The 301 status code means that a page has permanently moved to a new location.”
The 301 redirect is a status code that, when applied to a web page, automatically “redirects” the visitor to a different designated page. This also indicates to the search engines, etc. that the page has moved permanently and that they need to update their records with the new address.
As mentioned before, the 301 Redirect will automatically redirect traffic to different website address and do so without nasty error messages and is very useful when changing domains or changing your link structure. An added benefit: in most cases, the redirect is seamless which improves the user experience.
Using this method will also prevent you from loosing traffic and rank due to the old links to your site not working anymore.
The method for setting up 301 redirects varies based on your hosting and website etc. but if you have a self-hosted wordpress site, you can try the Redirection plugin. It updates your .htaccess file for you and makes it super easy to setup the 301 redirects for your site. This is my plugin of choice (mainly because it is super easy and so far, quite reliable) but I am sure there are several other ones out there for you to try out.
If you are not self-hosting wordpress, I would recommend contacting your host to see how best to setup your 301 redirects. They may have a tool for 301 Redirects which you can use to set them up for your site.
In order for the 301 Redirect to work, you have to have the old address that you will redirect visitors from, as well as the new address to redirect visitors to. Without the old address, your redirects won’t work.
Also, ideally, you want redirect the visitor to the same (or similar) page or post at the new site, as the original, so the experience is seamless Redirecting all of the old site links to your new homepage is not recommended from a user experience standpoint.
Use them and love them. They will help you keep your site traffic and Google standing in the case of a domain change or link structure change and will keep your visitors going to the right pages.
As always, if you need additional help with 301 Redirects or anything else website or WordPress related, give me a shout or leave it in the comment box. Your thoughts are welcome here. 😀
Have a great day.