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The rules of SEO are constantly changing and it’s important to stay on top of them if you want your website to grow in traffic and conversions. What previously might have been a high-traffic page on your website with loads of search engine-originating visitors can turn into a dead page solely due to changes in search engine algorithms.
Keeping track of these changes can be frustrating and time-consuming, but it’s definitely worth it in the long run. In order to regain some of the traffic that you might be using, we have prepared this guide on a quick and easy tip on how to redirect your visitors to your new posts and pages and score some SEO points.
301 redirecting is one of the best tricks to regain your site traffic and direct visitors from some of your less-visited, less-SEO friendly sites to new, longer and high quality posts or pages.
In this overview, you can get a step-by-step guide on how to do a 301 redirection.
What are redirects and why are 301 redirects SEO-friendly?
Basically, there are two main types of redirects: 301 and 302, and only 301 redirection is SEO-friendly.
301 redirects automatically transfer the visitor from the desired page or site to a new page. When you apply 301 redirection on one of your pages, the content of that page will be ignored by search engine bots, and it will not be indexed, crawled or ranked. So, the SEO-friendliness of this process lies in the fact that you will be able to transfer some of your previous link power to a newly crafted page.
On the other hand, 302 redirects are temporary and they are used to transfer visitors to temporarily dislocated content.
To circle back to 301 redirects and their use in SEO, it’s important to clarify that they are used every time you alter your page URLs, domain names, retire pages or transfer content from a directory. It’s done to avoid landing visitors to a 404 page and direct them to up-to-date parts of your website. However, you can use the search engine power your old links and content have gathered and hand them over to the new page.
Generally, the most important impact that a 301 redirect will have on SEO is that it will eliminate duplicate content. Google has specifically stated that websites should avoid duplicate content, which has a severely negative impact on search engine rankings.
How to set up 301 redirects on your website?
If you run your website on WordPress, the easiest way to set up redirects is by using the 301 Redirects – Easy Redirect Manager plugin. 301 Redirects is an extremely helpful plugin that will allow you to set up and manage all your redirections from one dashboard. It has over 60,000 active installs on WP with an average rating of 4.5/5.
To start with, install and activate the 301 Redirects plugin. You can download it from here or search for it in WordPress’ plugin library. After it’s activated, you will find it in your WP Dashboard under Settings.
The plugin dashboard has three cards: Redirect Rules, 404 Error Log and Import/Export Redirect Rules.
In order to start setting up your redirection links, go to the first card (Redirect Rules).
There are two columns you need to set up in order for the redirection to work: the first is the Redirect From URL or page and the other one is Redirect To. The first URL represents the link that your visitor will type in or search for, and the other column represents an alternative page or site where that visitor will actually land.
If you want to redirect from one of your website’s pages, you can type in the page address that comes after your domain name plus the sign „/“.
On the right-hand column, you can choose where you want to redirect visitors that visit this page. Click on the dropdown menu to choose one of the available categories: a page, a single post, custom post type, archive or even a custom URL. With the last option, you can use your website’s link power to redirect to some of your other sites in order to improve their own traction and search engine score.
You can add as many redirection rules as you like, for as many of your website’s pages as you would like to. Of course, you can even set up a master 301 redirect of your home website, where visitors who enter your domain URL will be redirected to another location you have specified.
You can also delete any 301 redirection rules that you have set up, if at any point you want to turn off the redirection. You can turn off and delete individual redirection rules or delete them in bulk, if you want to reorganize your entire link management system quickly.
You can also do a manual redirect through .htaccess.
Redirecting 404 error pages to working pages
If some of your website pages are outdated or non-functional, you can use the 301 Redirects plugin to redirect the visitors who would have ended up on a 404 error site to a fully functional page. There are numerous plugins that you can use to check whether you have any non-functional pages on your website that would lead your visitors to an error page.
Having 404 error pages on your website is not good for SEO, so you should aim either to not have any in the first place (through detailed WordPress maintenance and monitoring) or to redirect those pages to fully functional pages.
This way, you can organize your existing content, put some of your best content in the limelight by getting more traffic to it, and avoid landing your visitors to error pages.
If you want to do this, but you don’t have much technical knowledge, don’t worry! Using the 301 Redirects plugin is extremely simple and it will only take you a couple of minutes from the initial installation to a fully-functioning redirection path.