Redirection 301: interests, strategies, and implementation

As a web developer or SEO manager, you already found yourself with these two questions in mind: what is a 301 redirect? and how to do a 301 redirect? Today, we bring you the answers. Browse through our complete file to find out what a “301” is and understand the interest of using this type of redirection.

Table of contents

What is a 301 redirection?

301 redirection is a technique used by the manager of a website that allows him to indicate to search engine robots that a URL has been permanently replaced by another one.

301 redirection allows you to optimize the way browsers will crawl your website and improve the user experience.

Let’s take a concrete example to illustrate this definition: your initial URL is https://www.domain.com/urlA/. For one of the reasons we will observe in the following paragraph, you decide that the content of this URL will now be visible at the following address: https://www.mydomain.com/urlB/. In this case, you need to set up a 301 redirection from URL A to URL B. Thus, when the Internet user clicks on URL A, he is automatically redirected to URL B. This is completely transparent for the user.

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When should you use 301 redirection?

There are several situations in which 301 redirection can be very useful and effective. Let’s go!

The change of domain name

Your company wishes to change the domain name of the website. There are several reasons for this decision: change of corporate name, optimization of the domain name, etc.

The 301 redirection allows you, here, to migrate all the content of your site to the new domain name while keeping the same URL structure:

  • https://www.olddomain.com/urlA/ -> https://www.newdomain.com/urlA/
  • https://www.olddomain.com/urlB/ -> https://www.newdomain.com/urlB/
  • And so on.

You save precious time by using this technique, the migration can be executed in a few minutes. You also keep the PageRank, that is vulgarly speaking the “power” accumulated by your initial site as well as its positioning on the keywords you have acquired. Here is the line to insert in the .htaccess file:

Permanent redirect / http://www.newsite.com/

The redesign of your website

You decide to rework the structure of your website because you realize that some pages can be merged in terms of content, and others, with low SEO potential, can be removed. This allows you to strengthen your important pages but also to save on your crawl budget.

The 301 redirection allows you here to reorganize your website in an optimal way and to transmit the “SEO juice” to the pages you have determined. The strategy to be implemented is based on semantic thematization. Let’s take an example:

Page A deals with the subject of offside in soccer;
Page B deals with the subject of the corner in soccer;
Page C deals with the subject of the yellow card in soccer.
After careful analysis, you realize that it has been more than a year since these pages have generated traffic. You then decide to use the content of each page to create a maxi page on the subject of soccer that will list all the existing rules. In this case, it is better to use 301 redirection to point these three pages to your new URL https://www.yourdomain.com/soccer/, the theme being identical.

⚠️ According to our SEO experts, when redesigning a site, use 301 redirection only if the pages are semantically very close. Otherwise, it is better to use another HTML code, the 410, which tells the search engines that the URL has been permanently deleted.

URL optimization

When you first created your website, you were not necessarily aware that URL optimization is important. The so-called “clean” URLs can reassure the Internet user and help, in a minimal way, your referencing.

For example, it is preferable to use https://www.yourdomain.com/redirection-301/ rather than https://www.yourdomain.com/how-to-use-%301-redirection-in-%2020/!

If you don’t use redirection in this case, the links pointing to your old URL will result in page 404, a very bad signal for Google and an exit of the site for sure by the end-user who won’t understand that you are not offering him content for an existing URL.

⚠️ According to our SEO experts, it is not always recommended to change the URL if it already generates organic traffic. You need to conduct an accurate analysis to determine if this is the right solution. If you would like to be put in touch with an efficient SEO agency to conduct these analyses, please contact us!

From HTTP to HTTPS

Today, you must have the HTTPS protocol configured on your website to protect the Internet user who visits it. If it is not the case, the consequences are disastrous (beware of the next core update from Google with the Core Web Vitals). Indeed, today, most web browsers block sites that do not have this protocol. 95% of Internet users will then flee your pages.

Here again, permanent redirection is the solution to your problem. If you don’t have a CMS (Content Management System) that controls this automatically, like WordPress for example, then you need to perform a 301 redirection using the .htaccess file. This is a sensitive task, so we advise you to master it completely. If this is not the case, contact us, we will put you in touch with web developers who can handle it perfectly.

⚠️ Note that this also applies to the redirection of the version of your site in www to the version without and vice versa.

How to do a 301 redirection?

Here are the two solutions available to you to configure your 301 redirections on your website:

Plugins in WordPress

More than 30% of websites are “powered” by the WordPress CMS worldwide. This platform manages redirections very well. You can also download a multitude of plugins that make your job easier. The same goes for other CMS such as Joomla, Wix, and many others.

When you use a plugin to realize your 301 redirections, we advise you first of all to read the user manual and let yourself be guided. There are also many interesting tutorials on Youtube.

The .htaccess file

This file is located at the root of your website hosting. It is accessible via the dashboard of your CMS in most cases and/or via an FTP client. You can then modify the .htaccess file and configure your 301 redirections.

If you are not familiar with these terms and your needs are pressing, it is probably better to use the services of an expert. If badly configured, redirections can have unfortunate consequences on your site and its online health.

Test your redirections 301

Here’s a bonus: never forget to test your redirects once they are installed. Here are some interesting tools to use without moderation:

If you need more information about 301 redirects, please do not hesitate to contact us. Our experts will get back to you shortly.