Creating 301 Redirects With WordPress (and How it Boosted Our Traffic!)
Redirection allows you to forward one URL to another. It’s a handy way of sending both users and search engines to a different URL from the one they originally requested, and allows you to preserve your search engine rankings for a particular page.
It’s also a useful way to preserve the “link juice” of your old, out-of-date content by simply redirecting old pages or posts to new ones with new information.
In this post, we’ll look at 301 redirection, some methods you can use to help keep your site content fresh for SEO best practice, and how we’ve used 301 redirection on our blog to increase traffic.
What is a 301 Redirect?
There are three main kinds of redirects: 301, 302, 307 and meta refresh.
A 301 is a permanent redirect and this type of redirect passes 90-99 per cent of link juice (ranking power) to the redirected page.
The number 301 refers to the HTTP status code, which informs search engines that a page has been moved.
In most cases, a 301 redirect is the best method of implementing directs on a website.
A 302 redirect is a temporary redirect and passes 0 per cent of link juice. In most cases it should not be used.
A 307 redirect is the HTTP 1.1 successor of the 302 redirect.
Meta refreshes are a type of redirect executed on the page level rather than the server level.
Overall, it’s best to use a 301 when redirecting a URL to a different URL to preserve your search engine rankings.
Why 301 Redirect?
The 301 redirect is preferred for both users and search engines. Serving a 301 indicates to both browsers and search engine bots that the page has moved permanently. Search engines interpret this to mean that not only has the page changed location, but that the content – or an updated version of it – can be found at the new URL. The search engines will carry any link weighting from the original page to the new URL.
When done right, 301 redirects have the power to clean up messy architecture, solve outdated content problems and improve user experience — all while preserving link equity and your ranking power.
Last November we discovered that an old 2011 post and another 2012 post, both about adding festive cheer to your website in the weeks leading up to Christmas, were quickly picking up traffic.
So we decided to put this advice to the test.
We created a new post, 15 Free WordPress Plugins to Add Christmas Cheer to Your Site, with fresh content and redirected the older articles to the new post.
It was published on December 2, 2013 and during that month up until December 31, the post received more than 13,000 hits just from search engine traffic, including traffic that was rerouted from the older posts.
Not only was it a timely post in terms of content, but it was one of our most successful posts that month in terms of page views.
We were able to make the most of traffic to older posts and redirect it to fresh, new content, letting both visitors and search engines know we have up-to-date and relevant articles on our site.
Creating a Redirect With Plugins
Redirection allows you to manage 301 redirections and also keep track of 404 errors.
You don’t need Apache access to your .htaccess file as the plugin works entirely inside WordPress.
A great feature of this plugin is redirection statistics. They allow you to see how many times a redirection has occurred, when it last happened, who tried to do it, and where they found your URL.
SEO Redirection lets you quickly set up redirection using 301, 302 or 307. You can also monitor 404 errors and redirect them.
Adding a new redirection is as simple as entering your old address, the new address you want users to be redirected to, and the type of redacted (301, 302, 307) you want to use.
The Quick Page/Post Redirect plugin lets you send traffic from one URL to another on your site or on a third-party site.
There are various options built-in so you can specify the redirection location and type, import and export redirections, override options, and even delete all existing redirects.
Creating a Redirect With .htaccess
One of the cleanest ways to create a 301 redirect is using the .htaccess file in your website’s directory. It is quick and easy, as well as search-engine friendly.
Keep in mind that this method is only for Apache servers.
To redirect a single page:
Redirect 301 /oldpage.html http://www.yoursite.com/newpage.html
Redirect 301 /oldpage2.html http://www.yoursite.com/folder/
To redirect an entire website:
Redirect 301 / http://newsite.com/
This way will keep your links intact, so www.oldsite.com/helloworld becomes www.newsite.com/helloworld
301 redirecting posts can be beneficial for your site if you have a bunch of old posts with out-of-date content and want to make the most of the link juice attached to those posts.
It can also send good signals to search engines, letting them know your content is fresh and relevant – as we did with our Christmas post last December.
Plugins offer an easy way to set up redirects on your site, though if you prefer to edit files you may want to edit your .htaccess file instead.
Do you use 301 redirection? Has it been beneficial for your site? Let me know in the comments below.
Image credit: Ian Muttoo.