Question: What is a 301 redirect in SEO?


A 301 redirect is a permanent server-side redirect from one URL to another. In the context of SEO (Search Engine Optimization), it is a critical tool for maintaining website domain authority and search rankings when URLs are changed or content is moved.

How Does a 301 Redirect Work?

When a browser or search engine bot requests a URL that has been permanently moved, the server returns a HTTP status code of 301, indicating that the resource has been moved permanently to a new location. The server then provides the new URL in the response header, and the client is redirected to this new URL.

Why Use a 301 Redirect?

  1. Preserve Search Rankings: When you move content from one URL to another, a 301 redirect tells search engines that the move is permanent. This helps in transferring the search rankings from the old URL to the new URL.
  2. Prevent Broken Links: As websites evolve, pages get moved or deleted. A 301 redirect prevents users and search bots from hitting '404 not found' errors.
  3. Consolidate Duplicate Content: If you have similar or duplicate content accessible through multiple URLs, using 301 redirects can help consolidate these to strengthen your content's SEO value.

Implementing a 301 Redirect

The implementation of a 301 redirect varies based on the server or platform your website uses. Below are examples for Apache and Nginx servers:

Apache (using .htaccess)

Add the following line to the .htaccess file in your web root directory:

Redirect 301 /old-page.html


For Nginx, you would add a server block configuration like:

server { server_name; rewrite ^/old-page.html$ permanent; }

Best Practices for Using 301 Redirects

  • Test Before Implementation: Always test a 301 redirect in a staging environment before going live.
  • Monitor Traffic and Index Status: After implementing, monitor traffic both to ensure the redirect is working and to check that the original page is being de-indexed in favor of the new page.
  • Avoid Chain Redirects: Directly redirect to the final URL if possible, as chains of redirects can slow site performance and reduce user experience.

Using 301 redirects correctly ensures that your website navigates changes without losing traffic or SEO strength.

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