For instance, if your previous website was www.oldwebsite.com and now you want to change it to www.newwebsite.com, you should carry out 301 redirect from your old URL to the new URL. Now when a user types in/clicks on your old URL, he/she would be redirected to your new web page.
The code “301” implies “file permanently moved”. In a non-technical description, it is also described as “change of address form” you get at your post office. You would consider filling it in order to make sure that you receive all your mails addressed to your old address. Similarly, 302 redirects are one of the most efficient and user friendly strategies around for websites.
Do not confuse ‘301 redirect’ with a ‘307 redirect’. “301” is used for permanent redirection whereas “307” is used for temporary purposes.
What is the importance of a 301 redirect and why you must get it right?
Perhaps you’re thinking, “Wait! I don’t want my old URL anymore. Why should I use a 301 redirect to link it my new web address?”
Why? Because it’s an easy and a simple task to set up a 301 redirect and it will uphold your search engine ranking for that specific web page. If you need to move pages around or alter file names, redirecting is the safest option to preserve your page ranking.
A lot of websites lose out on prized search engine traffic due to incorrect configuration of redirects. It is important that when your website is crawled by a search engine it is able to follow all the redirects you’ve set up.
For instance, you own a website www. website.com and you’ve created a redirect such that whenever a user types in or clicks on the URL he/she is redirected to www.website.com/abc/. Now, if a search engine comes to crawl your URL but if it is not able to follow your redirect it would assume that www.website.com has no content. Because of this you would end up ranking badly in that search engine.
Moreover if you are not using 301 redirects, you will be throwing away your old URL’s web authority right out of the window. All inbound links or backlinks (earned by your old URL) will lead your visitors to a nowhere-land, and worse you will lose all your SEO credits.
Tip: Set up different 301 redirects for http://www and http:// versions of the domain. It’s because http:// and http://www are considered 2 different websites. In passing you may consider them as ‘same URLs’ but they’re actually different URLs that could hypothetically lead you to different contents. All inbound links pointing to http://www.oldwebsite.com might not always redirect to http://www.newwebsite.com.
Conclusion: 301 redirects are evidently the best and the safest way to preserve your search engine ranking. Search engine robots will simply obey the rules you inscribed in the .htaccess file. To check your 301 redirects are setup correctly, we recommend this 301 redirect tool.