The What, When & How of URL Redirection
A 301 Redirect — also known as URL redirection — is an important technical element of managing your WordPress website. Properly alerting search engines of URL changes can dramatically effect SEO equity. Too often hard-earned SEO rankings can disappear in a flash. And when it’s gone, it can’t be recovered. I’ll explain all this in as much geek-free detail as I can. I’ll show you when you need a 301 Redirect and how to create one in WordPress.
What Is It?
Basically a 301 Redirect is a code that means “this file has moved permanently.” It’s similar to the form you give to the post office when you move. A redirect is like providing a forwarding address notification. It ensures that mail (or in the case of a website), the visitor gets directed to where the content now resides.
When A 301 Redirect Is Necessary
A 301 Redirect is necessary in the following instances:
- Moving your website to a new domain name
- Revamping a website especially if you are changing content management systems (e.g., from Joomla to WordPress)
- Reorganizing content
- Merging two websites
- A web page is accessed through several different URLs
Webmaster Tools is the best place to start to determine if you need a 301 Redirect. In the video tutorial, Matt Cutts explains redirects and website structure. It’s well worth 4 1/2 minutes of your time.
How To Create One in WordPress
The great thing about WordPress is that there are several plugins that can help you with your website’s functionality and back-end management. There are 80 plugins available specific to 301 Redirection. We use a plugin called Redirection. Like all things WP all you need to do is enter the url you want to redirect and tell it where to send those visitors.
If you are making major changes to your website, I highly recommend creating a spreadsheet to map out your 301 redirects. Spend time planning your redirect strategy as it has lasting SEO effects. Building organic rankings takes diligence and patience. Unfortunately losing SEO equity can take only minutes.
What’s your experience with 301’s?