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If you’re moving a website from one URL to another, then you must take the appropriate steps to make sure your visitors will be sent to the right place. In the world of technology, this is known as a 301 redirect. 301 is an HTTP status code which is sent by a web server to a browser. A 301 signals a permanent redirect from one URL to another, essentially meaning all users that request an old URL will be automatically sent to a new URL instead. A 301 redirect passes all ranking power from the old URL to the new URL, and is most commonly used when a page has been permanently moved or removed from a website. 301 is one of many possible HTTP status codes including 404 – Not Found, 403 – Forbidden and 500 – Server Error. When you visit a web page and the server sends the page normally, the status code it attaches to that page is 200 – OK. You can think of a 301 redirect like a mail forwarder. Once you’ve moved a piece of content away from a specific URL, anyone who tries to visit it will receive a 404 – page not found message.

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Why are 301 redirects important?

When you try to visit an old URL, the server will send back the 301 – Permanently Moved status code, and then send you on to the new location. This happens in such a short time that you’re generally unaware of it, and you will simply find yourself on the piece of content for which you’d originally searched. You might notice that the URL is different from the one you clicked on or typed in. The other key role that a 301 redirect fulfils is with search engines. Having useful status codes that correctly signal where content has moved to allows search engines such as Google and Bing to keep their index up-to-date. Essentially, a 301 redirect will let search engines know that traffic needs to be directed elsewhere to find the same content.

How do you perform a 301 redirect?

The actual process of implementing a 301 redirect varies from CMS to CMS and platform to platform.

HubSpot makes it simple to add 301 permanent redirects inside the tool. To set up a redirect in HubSpot: Click Settings (the cog in the top right corner), then in the left sidebar menu, navigate to Website > Domains and URLs. Click the URL Redirects tab, then click Add URL redirect in the top right. This reveals a right-side panel – in most cases, you will want to implement a single page-to-page redirect, so choose Standard. Next, you’ll want to add the Original URL and the Redirect to URL for your old and new URLs, respectively. Click Add URL Redirect and the redirect will be added to HubSpot – simple!

If you aren’t a HubSpot customer, then you will need to apply 301 redirects differently – through WordPress. The best way to apply redirects from a speed and technical point of view is via the web server itself, rather than relying on WordPress. WordPress does not offer a facility to implement 301 redirects out-the-box, although there are plugins available that will give you access to this functionality.

If you are not able to implement a redirect via your server, consider using a WordPress plugin. This is not the best method you could choose, as plugins are slower and you’ll have to rely on third-party code, so always proceed at your own risk. Each plugin interface will be different, so consult your chosen plugin’s documentation for specific guidance.

301 vs 302 redirect

301 redirects are totally permanent, whereas 302 redirects are only temporary. A 301 is used when a page has permanently changed location, and a 302 should be used if you intend to move the page back under the original URL in the future. In general, you should expect to use 301 redirects on your website. However, there are a few cases when you might want to use a 302, instead, such as when you are using a phased website launch plan, or when you are redirecting users as part of functionality where SEO does not apply, such as login gateways or e-commerce checkouts. You can also use 302 when you are using a temporary holding page, and do not want to confuse search engines or damage your SEO rankings by signaling that you’re permanently redirecting your detailed, rich content to an empty holding page.

301 Redirect htaccess

When redirecting a single URL, all you have to do is add this code (make sure you substitute “oldpage” and “newpage” for your page names!):

RedirectMatch 301 /oldpage/ /newpage/ banner

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