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December 15, 2010 // 3:30 PM

What is a 301 Redirect and Why Should You Care?

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What is a 301 redirect?

In the simplest of "technical definitions", a 301 redirect is a permanent redirect from one URL to the other. A 301 redirect also is often described as a "change of address form" you might get at a post office. If someone doesn't know you moved, you want to make sure all your mail is forwarded to your new place.

For example, if your previous website was www.awesomewebsite.com and you wanted to change it to www.reallyawesomewebsite.com , you'd implement a 301 redirect from the old URL to the new one. Now whoever typed in your old URL (or clicked on a leftover link to your old URL), would automatically appear at your new URL. 

So what does this mean to marketers and business owners? Here are two tips for your 301 redirects that will help you get found by your best leads and customers.

1. Set up a 301 redirect between the http:// and http://www versions of your domain.

Here's something surprising ... Did you know http://awesomewebsite.com and http://www.awesomewebsite.com are considered two different websites? It's true! Even though in passing we may consider both versions the "same URL", they're actually different and could hypothetically lead to different content.

Marketing Tip: Make sure you have a 301 redirect between the http:// and the http://www versions of your website. If you don't,  all the inbound links that point to http://www.awesomewebsite.com won't pass authority over to http://awesomewebsite.com and vice versa. Eep!

301 Redirect HubSpot

How else can we look at this? Imagine http://www.awesomewebsite.com has 10 websites linking to it and http://awesomewebsite.com has 10 inbound links as well. The internet will view your business as having two URLs both with only 10 links. That's a lost opportunity to rank just a little bit better in the search engines!

By creating a 301 redirect, now the internet will see a single URL attributed to your business with 20 strong links. For HubSpot customers, do this by going to the "Domain Names" option in Settings and walking through the DNS setup. Another option is to talk to your hosting provider or web master. Much better!

2. Don't move to a new domain without setting up a 301 redirect first!

Thinking about rebranding? Revitalizing your image? Getting a website facelift? Perhaps, you're also considering changing your website domain. Sounds reasonable, but make sure you do it the RIGHT way! Otherwise, you're shooting yourself in the foot.

But perhaps you're thinking, "But wait ...  I don't WANT that URL anymore. Why would I want to use a permanent 301 redirect to connect it to my new URL?"

Why? Because without it, you will be throwing the web authority your previous domain collected right out the window. Any inbound links your old domain earned will lead to nowheresland--and worse, they won't be passing SEO credit to YOU any longer. Don't you want to keep them? Links are gold!

ToysRUs made this mistake when it bought Toys.com earlier this year as an attempt to rank even better for the keyword "toys". (The company was already ranking pretty well). Ironically, ToysRUs forgot to do a 301 redirect between the old domain and new Toys.com, causing it to lose it's SEO authority and rank even worse. Bummer.

Link Grader HubSpot

Marketing Tip: Don't start from scratch when creating a new domain. Set up a 301 redirect from your old URL to your new one so the inbound links to your old domain will send the same authority to your new domain. Simple and sweet!

Do you use 301 redirects? What other benefits can you think of?

Topics: SEO

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