301 redirects and their impact on SEO results

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Oct 2nd 2019

The use of redirects shouldn’t be underestimated by website owners and managers who are working to achieve a well optimised site, especially when significant adjustments have had to be made to the content, the site structure or the domain.

Serving a 301 redirect indicates to both browsers and search engines that the original page has moved permanently. Search engines interpret this to mean that not only has the page changed location, but that the most up to date version of the content can be found at the new URL. Search engines will therefore consider the ranking metrics (such as inbound links, page authority and trust) on a 301 redirected page to flow directly to your new URL, carrying some or all, of the link weighting from the original page to the new one.

In the past there has been a lot of speculation as to if a 301’s cause any loss of metrics, but Matt Cutts, the former head of the web spam team at Google has publicly stated that search engines are sophisticated enough to understand 301s and therefore not lose any metrics. No one knows what the percentage is exactly but it is widely asserted that correctly implement 301 redirects pass between 90-99% of link juice (ranking power) to the redirected page.

As with everything, the effects of 301 redirects are not instant. It will take time for the search engines to discover the 301, recognise it, and credit the new page with the rankings and trust of its predecessor. This process can take longer if the search engine spiders rarely visit the given web page, or if the new URL doesn't properly resolve, so it’s important make sure the 301 redirect is set up properly and that the search engines are instructed to revisit the site.

There are multiple types of redirect, but in general, the 301 is preferable for both users and search engines as it indicates that the page has moved permanently. Other options for redirection, include 302, 307 and meta refreshes, but these are poor substitutes, as they generally will not pass the rankings and SEO value to the same extent that a 301 redirect will. The only time these redirects are viable alternatives are if the move is only temporary, or if a website owner or manager purposefully doesn't want to pass link equity from the old URL to the new one. Find out more about the difference between a 301 permanent HTML redirect and other forms of redirect.

Ready to get started? Find out how to set up 301 redirects.

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