What is 301 redirect? Countdown rank loss!

One of the reasons for the decline of sites in search results is the incorrect and unprincipled use of 301 redirects. In this article, we try to fully answer all the questions and ambiguities about the 301 redirect method.

301 redirect plays a very important role in SEO success! This sentence may seem a bit exaggerated, but at the end of this article, you will probably come to the same conclusion. In this section, we intend to first provide a precise definition of redirect and then explain its uses and correct methods for use.


What is a 301 redirect and when do need it?

Redirect 301 permanently redirects visitors and search engine bots to new addresses. Really, why should we move a page to another address?

Many sites, after several years of operation, for various reasons decide to make changes in the design of the site, content management and even the domain. All of this causes some pages to change URLs, and changing a page’s URL causes Google to recognize it as new content.

We may think that with the same content, there is practically no change in the ranking, but the internal and external links of that page will not be transferred to the new address. This simple event will reduce the page’s credibility and rank in search results. There is a simple solution to this problem: redirecting the old address to the new version.

Page redirection is usually done in one of two ways:

1. Redirect 301 (Permanent Transfer) – Permanently redirects visitors and search engine bots to a new page.

2. Redirect 302 (temporary transfer) – means you want to temporarily transfer visitors to a new page and return it to the main page again after a while.


Bakery example to understand the concept of redirect!

Imagine that, as usual, you go to your local bakery, the bakery is closed and it says “This bakery is closed until further notice”, what do you do? This condition is called error on the Internet or page 404. This means that an address that existed in the past and is not available now may be available again in the future.

The bakery owner will probably choose another location in the same neighborhood and continue his business. You will also find this bakery by chance, but due to the change in appearance and address, you may not realize that it is the same as the previous bakery. This is exactly what happens when changing the URL of a page for Google bots.

Now imagine that a sign has been installed at the old address that reads, “The address of the bakery has changed to No. 12 Maryam Alley.” In this case, you will easily find the new address and from now on you will refer to the same address and this is the same 301 redirect.

What if it was written on this board that “we are being rebuilt until then, we are in Maryam Alley, No. 12”? Will you go to the old or new address the next time you want to buy bread? You will probably go to the usual address and if it is still closed you will go to the new address. This is exactly the function of Redirect 302. That is, the page address has changed but temporarily.


Why should a page address change?

Page changes are made for a variety of reasons, but they all require a 301 redirect. Some of them affect a small number of pages of the site and others affect the whole domain. The most important conditions in which the use of 301 redirect is recommended are:

  • Change the domain of the site
  • Activate SSL certificate
  • Change the URL of a page while retaining its content
  • Delete one or more pages and transfer credentials to related pages


How to redirect a page to a new address?

There are several ways to do a 301 redirect, depending on the content management system of the site and the host management panel. Here we introduce you to two practical and common methods for using 301 redirect.


1- Manual changes in .htaccess file (for Linux hosts)

The most common way (for sites running a Linux server) is to make changes to the .htaccess file. To access the .htaccess file, go to the place where you uploaded your site to the host (site root).

If you are in your own hosting panel but do not see the file? There are two important reasons for this.

No .htaccess files are built into the host. To create an .htaccess file inside a netpad and save it exactly as .htaccess. Make sure your file format is standard .txt before saving the file.
Your site does not run on Apache web servers. On the web server, check if your Apache service is running. Of course, this is a bit technical and it is better to refer to a specialist.
For each address change you will need its own code. A single line of code may redirect a large set of your pages to another URL, or affect only one page of the site. As a result, after making any changes, check the different pages of the site and make sure that the codes are executed correctly. There are a variety of tools for creating the right commands, one of which is the Redirect Generator.

In this section, we will introduce some of the most common redirects that are used for many sites:


Redirect from page to page:

Redirect 301 /old-page.html /new-page.html


Redirects the entire pages of a domain to a new domain:

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^oldsite.com [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^www.oldsite.com [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://newsite.com/$1 [L,R=301,NC]


Redirect version without www to www :

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^example.com [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.example.com/$1 [L,R=301,NC]


Redirect the version with www to the version without www :

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^www.example.com [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://example.com/$1 [L,R=301,NC]


Redirect http version to https :

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTPS} off
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://%{HTTP_HOST}%{REQUEST_URI} [L,R=301]


Redirect from subdomain to folder:

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^blog.sample.com [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://sample.com/blog$1 [L,R=301,NC]


2- Using the plugin in WordPress

If your site is powered by WordPress, you can simply move the URL of old pages to the new version without typing a single line of code. WordPress has different plugins for Redirect 301. But the best and most popular choices are Yoast Premium Plugin and 301 Redirection Plugin.

After installing and activating the Redirection plugin, go to its settings page. Enter the old URL in the “Source URL” field and the new URL in the “Target URL” field.


Does using 301 redirect reduce the credibility of the page?

The answer to this question has not been fixed over time. Redirect 301 does not currently cause the page to lose credibility or reduce it, but in the past there were different conditions.


Before 2016

In 2013, Matt Katz emphasized that a 301 redirect would cause a 15% loss of page credibility.
Changing the site protocol from http to https using a 301 redirect will cause the site to drop.


After 2016

In 2016, the law of transferring pages to each other was accompanied by many changes. As Matt Katz announced on Twitter, Redirect 301 will not have any negative impact on your site.

Larry Page pointed out in 2016 that a 301 redirect would not cause the page to lose credibility.
Changing the site protocol from http to https will no longer cause the site to lose rankings.
In 2019, a Google expert confirmed that Redirect 301 would transfer all the validity and value of the previous page to the new address.

But the story does not end here! Redirecting one page to another is possible if the subject of the two pages is completely related, otherwise the value and credibility of the source page will not be transferred to the new address. If we go back to the bakery example, the issue becomes clear to you. Imagine that the address of the new place is listed on the bakery, but when you refer to this address, you will encounter a supermarket instead! what are you doing? You will probably look for another bakery and never go back to that place.


4 + 1 The mistake we make in redirecting pages!

Contrary to popular belief, a 301 redirect is not a way to improve your SEO, but it can only be used to maintain the position or credibility of a page. This means that if for any reason you have to move a page from one site to another, a 301 redirect is the best way to maintain that page’s credibility.

But just telling you to “use a 301 redirect” is not the end of the matter; Because there are always problems when using this type of redirect and not being aware of them, can completely eliminate the effect of 301 redirect.

Here are some tips to make sure you use Redirect 301 properly.


1- Make sure the site is redirected to the HTTPS version

Webmasters are always advised to enable the SSL certificate for their site. This proposal has two reasons:

HTTPS protects the information of users who enter the site and as a result provides more security and safety to visitors.
Google considers different criteria in ranking sites. Meanwhile, SSL certification has a small effect on improving the position of your site.
But having an HTTPS site is only the first step. The next step is to make sure that the visitor who enters the HTTP version of your site is automatically redirected to the HTTPS version of the site using a 301 redirect. Now how do we make sure that something like this happens?

Enter your site address as https://websima.academy. If you log in to https: //websima,.academy automatically, your 301 redirect is done automatically. If not, you will need to go through the redirect again.

2. Do not give the wrong address to Google bots

In order for Google crawlers to understand the content structure of your site, they need a guide. This guide is the same as the site map. Google bots use this file to identify new pages and notify changes to old URLs. In many cases, even though the previous address was redirected, it is still on the sitemap.

This will allow Google crawlers to enter a page that no longer exists (because it has been redirected). If these pages remain on your site, bots will become more and more frustrated with each visit. Eventually Google realizes that your site is not well-structured and you may lose your Crawl Budget.

So let’s not disappoint Google bots. The first step to solving this problem is to find pages that use Redirect 301. In the next step, we will remove these pages from the site map. Now how do we do that?

A- Using online tools

Enter your sitemap. (yoursite.com /sitemap.xml)
Use the URL Extractor tool to download all site urls
Now enter this list in a Redirect 301 Checker to find out which addresses are using the 301 redirect
Now remove these URLs from your sitemap

B- Google Search Console reports

Enter the Coverage search section of your site console.
In the four tabs that open, select the Excluded tab
In the Details section, click Page with Redirect
Finally, all redirected addresses will be displayed to you
Remove redirected URLs from the sitemap


3- Break the chain of redirected pages!

Normally, only one URL is redirected from one site to another, and the user clicks on one to enter another. But what if this click does not reach its destination?

In this case, one address is redirected to several other addresses in a chain and it takes some time for the user or Google robot to reach the destination page. that’s mean:

Source address> Redirect 1> Redirect 2> Destination address

Let’s see what Google’s opinion about these redirected chains?

“Although Google crawlers can well follow a chain of redirects to the landing page, we recommend that you redirect the user to the landing page with just one redirect. “If that is not possible, keep the number of redirects in the chain between 3 and 5.”

The conclusion we can draw from Google’s words is that redirect chains have a bad impact on the user experience by slowing down the audience’s access to the main content. So it is better not to use a chain of redirects at all and instead of creating a chain of redirected pages, redirect an address to only one page.

John Müller, director of Google Search, has stated that Google bots do not follow more than 5 consecutive redirects and eventually do not reach the destination page!
I think the example of the bakery here will help us too. Imagine encountering a new piece of paper with another address for a bakery after going to the suggested address. By referring to the third address, you will encounter a new paper that introduces you to the fourth position! How far do you think you will go this way ?!


4- Do not enter Google and the user into the tornado of redirected pages

There is a more advanced type of redirect chain called a redirect tornado. In this method, an address is redirected to another redirected page. If you do not understand, the following example can explain this concept to you very simply:

Page 1> Page 2> Page 3> Page 2> Page 3> Page 2…

Why do you think we named this redirect a tornado? The answer is very simple; Because by entering one of these pages, like a tornado, you will be lost in the pages of the site and have no escape route! This will make you nervous and you will no longer visit the wrong site.

Of course, this confusion does not happen only for the user, because Google bots, just like visitors, are caught in this infinite loop and can not properly identify and index the content of the final page.

5. Erase broken redirects from the site

As you can see, using the 301 redirect, you can redirect the user from one page to the desired address. But what if after entering the redirect page, the user encounters a blank page? In this case, we say that the user has encountered a broken redirect. Broken redirects usually end up on pages that contain 4xx or 5xx error messages (such as 401, 501, or 503).

Broken redirects are harmful to your site in every way because when a user enters a blank page, they close the site and return to the results page. This means that the exit rate from your site will increase, which will have a negative effect on your SEO.

If the number of broken pages on your site increases, Google bots will consider this increase as a negative signal and will pay less attention to the content of the site next time.

Before concluding, it should be noted that the 301 redirect discussion is one of the most important topics in linking web pages; You can learn the most important things you need to know in the discussion of internal and external link building of the site in the link building training workshop.

The last word
Redirect, if done properly, can protect the credibility of your site
Redirect 301 is one of the effective tools in SEO and if you use it in a planned and purposeful way, in addition to maintaining credibility, you can use it to strengthen the target pages and merge two closely related content. We will soon add other sections to this article to introduce you to practical techniques for improving your SEO site using 301 Redirect.


Frequently Asked Questions

What can we do to easily understand the concept of 301 redirect?

The easiest way to understand a 301 redirect is to compare it to another (and simpler) topic. For example:

Imagine that, as usual, you go to your local bakery, the bakery is closed and it says “This bakery is closed until further notice”, what are you doing?

Now we can write on the door of the bakery: “The address of the bakery has changed to Maryam Alley, No. 12”. This sentence is exactly the meaning of 301 redirect in SEO!


Which pages of the site need a 301 redirect?

Pages that change their URL for any reason usually need a 301 redirect. The change of address is done for various reasons, the most important of which are:

Change the domain of the site
Activate SSL certificate
Change the URL of a page while retaining its content
Delete one or more pages and transfer credentials to related pages

How to redirect a page?

There are two ways to redirect 301: either manually change the site htaccess code or use the WordPress plugin to change the URLs.


Is 301 redirect harmful to the site?

If the number of 404 pages on your site is too much, it can be detrimental to SEO, but a 301 redirect is a good way to refer to a new page that can happen to keep your users happy. Provided, of course, that the content of the redirected page is relevant to the page in question.

Just remember to avoid common misconceptions when redirecting. In this article, we have introduced 5 of the most common problems.

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