Just like one forwards their snail mail to a new address after moving homes, it’s important to perform a parallel task when one updates the URL of a webpage. If you’re moving your site to a new domain, then it’s crucial that the redirection is done properly in order to remain accessible to your visitors while preserving your webpage’s SEO value. Put simply, a 301 redirect is a technique which allows you to redirect visitors to your updated webpage while retaining its SEO credit.
Search engines assign value to webpages based on complex algorithms that rank dozens of various factors. One of the most influential factors which determines search engine rankings is the quality of the inbound links that are pointing towards your URL—the more high quality links from relevant websites pointing to your webpage, the higher your site will rank. The issue is that the SEO value is associated with the specific URL of the webpage, and anytime that the URL is updated the search engine will perceive the new page as completely independent from its earlier versions.
This means that if a website is rebranded and the URL changes—without a 301 redirect—then all of the SEO value that has built up will be completely lost. There’s a similar problem in situations where the same webpage can be accessed via multiple URLs. In order to maximize the SEO value of your inbound links, it’s vital that a redirect is performed so that Google perceives all of the inbound links as pointing to the same page.
One of the most devastating mistakes that you can make while redesigning your website is to focus exclusively on the design while neglecting the implications for your site’s rankings. Without performing a 301 redirect, the search engine will interpret any changes to your URL structure as the creation of an entirely new webpage. In such a situation, visitors will be met with an irritating 404 (page not found) message when attempting to visit your old URL. Eventually, this will cause your webpage to disappear from search results, jeopardizing all of the hard work that went into your online marketing strategy that had slowly built up your rankings.
The significance of a 301 redirect is that it informs search engines that the previous URL has permanently moved to its new address, which means that it will pass over the existing SEO qualities to the current webpage. If done correctly, your webpage will have the benefits of a revamped design without compromising on its preexisting SEO authority.
Due to the nature of search engine “spiders,” even small changes to the URL structure necessitate the implementation of a 301 redirect. This is why it’s imperative to perform a proper redirect whenever switching to a new domain, shortening a URL, or simply to prevent having multiple pages with duplicate material. Since 301 redirects are convenient for your visitors and optimal for search engines, it is the most recommended form of redirection.