What is a "301 Redirect" and what are its benefits for SEO?

In the field of SEO, there are many technical terms that a layman does not understand. It simply and precisely explains what a 301 redirect means and when it is needed.

Anyone who deals with the subject of SEO or has commissioned a service provider will sooner or later hear the term "301 redirect" or just "redirect". As the name suggests in the English, it is a "forwarding".

What types of redirects are there?

There are basically three types of redirects relevant to SEO:

TypeFunction
301 Moved PermanentlyThis redirect is referred to as permanent redirect and is used to indicate to search engines that the source URL has been permanently moved to a new URL. From an SEO perspective, the ranking is passed through a 301 redirect to the new URL.

 

The 301 redirect is the most important and widely used redirect for SEO. It is always used when a URL has been removed or changed, which was relevant in the search engine ranking, and you want to keep the ranking.

302 FoundThe 302 redirect was originally used for temporary redirects (in the HTTP 1.0 specifications). However, most browsers interpret the 302 redirect incorrectly and with the same functionality that a 303 redirect provides (added as part of the HTTP 1.1 specification). The 302 redirect will continue to be used for temporary redirects, but a 303 or 307 redirect should be used instead.
307 Temporary RedirectThe 307 Temporary Redirect was added as part of HTTP 1.1. It works like a 302 redirect and should be used instead. Both the 302 and the 307 redirect do not pass on SEO rankings to the new destination URL because it is a "temporary redirect".

Where are redirects defined as the 301 redirect?

As a rule, a so-called .htaccess file is located in the root directory of a website. This is nothing more than a text file containing various commands and rules for the web server. Basically, the work on this file has to be carried out carefully, as it can contain enormously important settings for the operation of the website. Especially with complex systems such as TYPO3, the smallest change to this file can have a big impact on the entire site.

A simple 301 redirect is a single line in the .htaccess file and looks like this:

Are there any other options than editing the .htaccess file?

Yes, you can create a redirect for instance with the programming language PHP. This looks something like this:

Basically, I advise against it and recommend the variant with the htaccess file, if it is not urgently necessary to use PHP for some reason. The main reason is the performance. In the PHP variant, the server must execute a PHP command each time it is called. This is usually done a bit slower than the commands in the htaccess file, which are direct server statements. In addition, the variant with the htaccess file is usually easier to manage because only a single file needs to be edited.

How do you find broken and deleted URLs on larger sites?

Not always you have an overview of all subpages and links within your own website. I recommend using Google Webmaster Tools. Once the site is registered, Google records all link structure activity and reports crawl errors in a convenient interface. These can then be corrected and ticked off. Interesting: Google also indicates if e.g. other websites contain broken links to your own website, so you can ask the site operators for correction.

Conclusion: When does a redirect make sense?

If a specific URL of a website has been permanently removed or moved, a simple line of code in the htaccess file can redirect traffic from search engines and other sources to the new URL. With Google Webmaster Tools you have a clever tool on hand, which lists unreachable URLs.

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