If you know how websites operate fairly well, you may be reading this thinking, “duh.” But, I assume you are reading this as my implied target audience as a small business owner that may not think of this obvious implementation a web developer or SEO professional might do when updating an old website to a new website.
The reason I bring this up is because there are some lazy web developers that actually do not do this, and therefore the website owner goes on with their business not knowing this critical implementation hasn’t been addressed. This is very rare, but it does happen and being the knowledgeable business owner that your are reading my blog, you will equip yourself with even more knowledge on why implementing a 301 redirect when you have a new website launched is very important.
As a search engine marketer, I cannot tell you how imperative it is to have what is called a “301 Redirect” put in place as soon as your new website is about to go live. Continue reading below to find out what a 301 redirect does and why it’s important.
This post isn’t a “how to” giving detailed information on how implement one step by step with instructions, rather, it is meant to give a general overview of a 301 redirect and to highlight the importance of it.
What does a 301 redirect do?
Simply put, a 301 redirect takes all the old URL’s and re-directs them to your new website’s URL’s. Implementing them is considered to be standard and follows best practices.
There are multiple reasons why this is done:
- Getting rid of Old URL’s in the Search Engines – A 301 redirect helps you to get rid of all of the old URL’s that are cached in the search engines to alleviate 404 errors. They need to be taken care of so the search engine visitor that clicks on the old URL will not go to a website page that does not exist (also called a 404 “page not found” error).
- Saving Your Website Links – By doing this, you are also saving the links that people have used to link to your old website, and passing it onto the new website and therefore not losing any valuable links people have created to your website. From and SEO perspective, this is very critical on the new website, “go live” list of to-do’s.
Why is a 301 redirect important?
Whenever a URL is ever changed in a website, the URL must be redirected to ensure that your old URL’s are not hanging around in the search engine results pages and taking the visitor that clicks on the URL to a “404 – page not found” page.
How do I implement a 301 redirect?
Ensure that the old pages are redirected to the new page names in the .HTACCESS file, or with a content management (CMS) plugin, such as WordPress for example. An important thing you must do after implementing them, is to also test that the redirect has worked.
Then, the new URL should be submitted to Google Webmaster Tools by doing the following:
- Go to Diagnostics
- Fetch as Googlebot
- Refresh your computer
- Then choose “submit to index”
- Go to Webmaster
- Submit URL’s
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