When Should You Use a 301 Redirect?

This Google video recently came out and confirmed what many people have always believed to be true – using a 301 redirect doesn’t dilute any link juice. The myth of lost link power has been dispelled by Matt Cutts himself. In his exact words, “The amount of PageRank that dissipates through a 301 is currently identical to the amount of PageRank that dissipates through a link.

This makes sense, as using a 301 redirect is permanent, compared to the temporary 302 direct. Make sure to notify Google when making a change of address. Here are some other common reasons to utilize a 301 redirect on your site:

Change URL for vanity or business purposes – Did you changed your business name or pick something more memorable? A 301 redirect will help direct customers to the right place and ensure that you don’t lose any traffic during this transition.

Getting rid of mispelled or non SEO-friendly URLs
– In the past, some marketing companies (or DIYers) got stuck with using CMS that didn’t allow for custom SEO-friendly URLs. Having a string of alphanumeric characters for a page that should be named, for example, dog-toys.html would be more helpful and a 301 redirect can help you achieve exactly that.

Use only one version of your website address
– For example, directing “website.com” or “website.com/index.html” to “www.website.com”. People can get into the bad habit of using different versions of their URL. Using a 301 redirect can help you clean up this mess.

Merging 1 or more websites
– Back when search engines didn’t notice when website owners had multiple properties, it was fine to have as many different sites as you wanted. Nowadays, this is something to stay away from… which could mean merging pages from your smaller, less visited sites into your main site. Using a 301 redirect would help you retain the backlinks from those mini-sites and strengthen your main site.

Cleaning up content pages
– More content can’t take the place of quality content and some website owners are paying the price for that now. Having pages full of thin or spammy content dilutes the quality pages that are on your site. To clean up these muddy waters, you might want to have 1 (or a very select few pages) that focus on a particular topic.

Read more best practices on SEOmoz and HubSpot. Have any other questions on 301 redirects or using htaccess? Comment and let us know below.

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