A 301 redirect can most easily be described as and compared to a mail forwarder. When someone visits your website and the URL has changed, the visitor will be redirected to the new, correct URL. Without a 301 redirect set up, the visitor will not know where to go or if your website is gone completely.
With a 301 redirect, a visitor to your website will be taken to the new URL automatically. This redirect happens quickly, often without the user knowing it even happened. They may notice if they glance up at the URL and see it’s different than the one they typed in. Now, they have become aware of the new URL. The 301 redirect has saved you from losing a visitor and potential customer.
How does a 301 redirect work? A 301 redirect is a set of coded instructions. These codes are known as HTTP status codes. They communicate that there has been a change in URL address has changed. This code is used when a URL has changed or a page on a website is now at a different location. A 301 redirect is inserted by a website owner by using a plugin or into the web server directly. If the website owner does not have the ability to insert it themselves, someone can be hired to do it. A successful 301 redirect will benefit both the website owner and the visitors.
A 301 redirect plays other important roles such as keeping search engine indexes current. If someone remembers the name of your website, but can’t recall the URL, they may type it into a search engine. With a 301 redirect, they will see the current URL instead of the former one that no longer works. Being lead to current URLs is a good way of allowing new visitors as well as long time users and customers to return again and again.
Types of 301 redirects and what they do:
- Temporary redirect: this is when a URL that is typed in by a user and they are not redirected to another URL, but the page they were intending to see is different. A temporary redirect is used when a website is temporarily unavailable. This may be due to improvements or upgardes to the website. The visitor will realize the website it not gone and the URL has not changed.
- Permanent redirect: this is when the URL of a webpage has changed permanently. The former URL that visitors and customers knew no longer exists and they will be redirected to the new URL and search engine results will no longer show the old. This change in search results may take a bit of time, but eventually the new URL will be the one that searchers see.
A 301 redirect is an important tool for website owners who are changing the URL of their wesbite or will be doing upgrades and repairs to it and want their visitors to know what’s happening.