We understand that the world wide web is a big, scary thing for most people, so each month we’ll try to take a word, acronym or phrase and explain to you in simple, ‘non-techie’ terms what it all means. This is DBG’s Digital Definition of the Month!
A 301 redirect sounds something like a sporting play.
Coach: ‘Ok team, listen up – we’re going to do the 301 redirect. Everyone push left and Bobbie, you go long!”
Well, despite that excellent example – it’s definitely NOT a sporting play when it comes to the online world. A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect from one URL to another URL.
But why would you need to permanently redirect a URL?
As web designers we most commonly use 301 redirects when we are launching a brand new website for a client that might have already had a website. While they keep the same domain name (e.g. www.mybusiness.com.au), some of the URL extensions may change.
For example, on the old website the client may have had www.mybusiness.com.au/about-us, but they’ve decided that moving forward the new site will have something more welcoming like www.mybusiness.com.au/meet-the-team.
If the old URL of /about-us is linked to from anywhere, and a potential visitor clicks it – they’ll get a yucky 404 error:
However, if the website designer was pretty nifty, they’d ensure that 301 redirects had been put in place to ensure that if an old/out-of-use URL was ever clicked, the website visitor would be seamlessly and automatically redirected to the correct page on the new website. *magic*
Not only does this make for an excellent user experience, it ensures that all of your hard work in gaining rankings with Google search engine results are lost.
So if you’re in the process of getting a new website designed, make sure you ask your web developer whether they’ll be doing 301 redirects. If they give you a blank stare, now is the time to start getting worried!
If you’re wondering how a 301 redirect is done, we’ll let you visit Google’s Webmaster Tools Help for that story: Change page URLs with 301 redirects