Why and When to Use 301 Redirect Status Code?

Wondering why so much significance given to 301 redirects? Actually, a 301 redirect is a coding protocol that sends site visitors to live URL, when the requested page or post has been removed or moved.

The 301 code redirects users to a similar or relevant URL, when they attempt to visit a page that is no longer needed. Users’ experience improves and backlink value gets transferred to the new page.

What is the meaning of 301 redirects?

You may have come across notifications like ‘301 moved permanently’. These redirects are a status code telling the server where the requested page from the browser is currently hosted. The 301 status code is not a bad thing, provided that it is used the right way. They just direct the visitors from a requested page to another relevant URL, which the browser serves automatically.

A 301 response means that you are doing a good task in keeping your website structure tidy. Stopping site visitors from landing on old, broken, or irrelevant pages is easy with the 301 WordPress redirect plugin. This status code informs search engines or visitor about redirection at the time of the request.

What 301 status code does?

  • It tells visitors that the requested URL is permanently moved.
  • It redirects visitors to the new destination URL.
  • It tells search engines to index the new URL and remove old one.
  • It prompts search engines to transfer link equity from an old URL to the new one.

When to use the 301 status code?

When a page loses its need or relevancy, or is removed, then use 301 redirects. They are even used during the rebuilding or rebranding of websites. The URLs are modified to a new, clean SEO friendly version. Make sure you redirect old pages that will be modified during the site redesigning process. It even helps to prevent duplicate content issues.

301 redirect vs. rel= “canonical”

There is a belief that rel= “canonical” can be used interchangeably for 301 redirects. It is a huge confusion! Let’s look at the difference between these two.

  • A 301 status code means a permanent redirect. Users are directly transferred to a new URL. The 301 must be used when the page is moved, replaced or removed.
  • The rel= “canonical” suggests search engines which version of similar page group is preferred to index. This avoids content duplication. Canonical tag has to be used on pages having the same or near-to-same content as in other pages.

How 301 redirects make a difference from an SEO perspective?

In terms of SEO, 301 redirects make a huge difference between the success and failure of a redesigned WordPress website.

  • Keeps visitors engaged on your site by redirecting them to relevant and compelling new pages.
  • 90% of link juice from the old page gets inherited by the new URL.
  • Removes the old URL from the index and replace it with a new one. If 301 redirects are not used, a 404 gets served, which means the page gets dropped from the index over time.

Ensure to use the 301 status codes correctly with the WP 301 redirect plugin to avoid the chain and loops from forming. If it is not implemented correctly, you will be left with no choice but to reset WordPress for a thorough cleanup.