SEO: 301 Search Engine Friendly Redirect

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By Guy Levine
on 16/7/08

This post was inspired by another post I just happened across in another blog.  It basically said if you move your blog just put a meta refresh tag, it works very simply in that your visitor gets automatically redirected,  no problems or at least you would assume so.  This is just one of many examples I could point to where the information that gets left out is more important than what gets included.

The problem in this case is the redirect is fine in itself but it is a spammy technique and Google doesn't like the meta refresh tag approach. Ah! Just a minor problem. The reason for this is it's one of the oldest black hat tricks in the book, you buy a domain that's expired with some Page Rank or link juice from the previous owners and then redirect to your site.

We've had instances in quite a few projects recently where we've had to implement SEO friendly redirects for one reason or another.:

  • site redesign
  • page names need changing
    • from dynamic links to static url's
    • url's that are not friendly to the user
    • urls need to be made more keyword friendly
    • simple typo for both internal and external links
    • bad navigation architecture

If you need to redirect a page then done in the correct manner this can be as highly effective as any other critical implementation you make for SEO or done badly it can get you banned.   A redirect is highly effective and can correct most problems that cause Page Rank or link juice leakage

So how do you do it correctly?  Well first we should say with anything we do to enhance our site for SEO we're not trying to trick or deceive the Search Engines into giving us brownie points we don't deserve, we're simply helping them.

With redirects there are two types:

  • Permanent / 301
  • non-permanent / 302

Obviously if your permanently moving a page then you want a permanent redirect and vice versa.  A redirect is put on your web site's server and not into the pages of the site itself unlike the dodgy meta tag refresh.  The bad news is that means you have to do some programming, the good news is the programming is very simple.  The most popular server on the web is the Apache server so we will deal with that.

There is probably more likely than not a file named .htaccess in the root of your folder, if not don't worry just create a file in notepad or an other program and upload to your server via ftp.  The line of coding in the case of moving a blog would be something like this:

Redirect permanent /old-blog

The programming should make sense.  For those who are lost simply we tell the server:

  1. what we're doing - redirect
  2. type of redirect - permanent
  3. old url (/old-blog) this is relative to the server so doesn't need the full web address
  4. new url (http://www...)  we can redirect to another site so this needs to be the full address

It's that simple, if you've read once of our previous posts on Page Rank you'll know that Engines count any web address without 'www' in it as a seperate url so make sure it's included, in fact if this is how other sites link to you then you'll have to add this redirect if you don't want those link leaking PR or juice which you shouldn't!

If stumped or want a redirect for something other than Apache then there's a whole mine of information on this subject alone on the web.