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Restructuring your website? 301 Redirects can save the day

Everyone is familiar with status code 404- Not Found. You do not want visitors to your website to encounter this error. In case you are upgrading your website to a new URL, you can forward the visits to the new location through the server, using a 301 redirect. 301 redirects come in handy in case you are upgrading, redesigning, or moving your website. It is not that these redirects are complex to implement, still many website owners and developers simply forget about them. In the process, this causes a serious hit to SEO efforts and can completely wipe away ranking in search.

To avoid something like this to happen, make sure it is incorporated into the to-do list for each project plan. Creating and managing 301 redirects is like brushing your teeth, simple but very important. It should be a core part of website design and development.

Time and again, we find frustrated website owners and bloggers reaching out on social media in case of failure. They have been on the receiving end due to a lack of 301 redirects which should have been done while updating or redesigning the websites and blogs.

So developers and SEO experts need to educate themselves on the importance of 301 redirects, which are really easy to implement actually.

Let’s do a quick recap on what 301 redirects are and few ways to go about it.

What is a 301 Redirect?

Simply put, a 301 redirect takes the visitor from the old web page location to a new one when it has been moved permanently. A user may input the old URL. If 301 redirects are applied, the server will send back the status code 301 – Permanently Moved, and then redirect you to the new location. This happens in just a couple of seconds so that a user does not see the process behind it. You will simply find yourself on the content you were looking for, but if you will look closely, the URL has changed automatically to the new one.

Other than redirecting the server, 301 redirects are also linked with the SEO of the post/page. Search engines like Google or Bing can be redirected to the new destination to access prior SEO visibility. This way ranking of the page is not affected and you can still reap the benefits of organic traffic.

When to Use a 301 Redirect

  1. You’ve changed a URL and you want your traffic and SEO history, from the old URL rerouted to the new URL.
  2. You’re merging two websites and want to make sure that links to outdated URLs are redirected to the correct pages.
  3. There are multiple URLs to access your web page and you want all of them to land on a single destination. You can choose one of them as a canonical/preferred URL and apply 301 redirects on others to land at the same destination.

Setting Up 301 Redirects

You have a lot of options as to how you want to proceed with setting up 301 redirects. Some are high-end and more suitable for developers, while others are more user-friendly can be easily implemented by the end-users. We will discuss three methods here to use and recommend:

  1. .htaccess file for Apache

The most followed procedure for websites that are hosted on servers running Apache, is to edit your site’s .htaccess file. You can locate this file in your site’s root folder.

Here are some snippets of code for adding common types of 301 redirect via .htaccess file:

  • When you are just “moving” a site to a new domain. Place this on the OLD site:

  • When redirecting a single page:

  1. Redirection Plugin for WordPress

Are you using WordPress? Make use of the free Redirection plugin to set up 301 redirects right from within your dashboard. This plugin is very intuitive and even website owners or bloggers can use it easily. This is how it would look like:

  1. WP Engine Dashboard

It is very easy with WP Engine hosting too. 301 redirects are linked right within your WP Engine dashboard. Again this whole process becomes very innate and every regular joe can venture into their account easily and go about adding the necessary 301 redirects. It is sufficient to go through the quick tutorial about the 301 processes to get you started.

Final Thoughts

We have discussed the usability of 301 redirects in terms of SEO history and PageRank. You just need to keep a few points in mind while redirecting. Firstly, do not redirect to a page with a different intent than the original one. For example, it may infuriate a user who wanted to access your home page but lands on the blog of your website after the redirect. Also, it is better to create a redirect first before migrating your website content so your site doesn’t lose traffic and SEO ranking in the process.

If you are in the planning stage of your project, just incorporate them into your to-do list. You just need to take the time to create and load them anytime you delete content, move content, or restructure your website.

SEO – New Mantra for Successful Business

Small business owners stand to benefit most by having an SEO compliant website. Wield SEO to build a strong web presence and bypass your competitions. It will definitely take your business to next level and help you gain new customers consistently. SEO is significant because it makes your website more visible, and that means more traffic and more opportunities to convert prospects into customers.

But still, many small business owners shy away from investing in digital marketing, and specifically from SEO. While making your marketing budget or business plans, do reserve a slot for SEO activity, and how it can be improved. You should start by developing an SEO strategy. Broadly it should contain an outline of what you want to achieve and how to achieve that.

Once sowed, you will reap the benefits of SEO for a long duration. However well your business is doing, it can always do better. And if you’re not currently investing in your SEO, then here’s a hoping that the following points will drive the point home.

Build brand awareness
An SEO compliant website shows up on first page of the SERP (Search Engine Result Pages). As people keep seeing your business name there, it establishes your presence in the market. So next time they have requirement of service or product in your domain, guess who they are going to remember – you!

Cost-effective marketing
While the high rollers in your business vertical may be able to shell-out much more than you on the marketing front. Here again SEO can be your savior. It is very cost-effective form of digital marketing which may place you ahead on some fronts – even against the biggest competitors.

Big players with their fat budgets can spend more on pay-per-click advertising, or hire celebrities for their ads. But with a properly implemented SEO strategy, you can go mano-a-mano with the big firms in the search results in a cost-effective way.
It is now established that SEO has a very high ROI. With the right kind of traffic, the ceiling for returns is endless. And once your website is among the high-rankers, all you need to do is maintain your SEO. You are effectively saving a lot on paid marketing campaigns and ad space.

More targeted traffic
SEO utilizes the concept of pull marketing. This is far better as customers are already looking for the service. Other marketing techniques like videos, pop-up ads or cold calling are considered as disruptions by most of the viewers and have lower ROI. If your SEO is done right, then you should be attracting more relevant traffic to your site.

So it means you are present at the right time and right place. They are more likely to convert.

Faster and more convenient website
Search engines assess how fast, smooth, and user-friendly your website is and they reward positive results by ranking it higher. So, SEO is not just limited to keywords and alt tags. In order to optimize your website for search engines, you, to all intents and purposes need to improve the user experience. The more convenient your small business website is, the greater the chances that people are going to visit and buy what you’re selling.

Long-lasting results

Paid online ads bring results just as long as you keep investigating in them. Investment on SEO will have far fetched results since it will keep bringing you some new customers over a longer period of time.

You cannot expect instant rewards through SEO, but that is not the point of optimization. It aims for your small business to take one of the higher-ranking positions in SERP. Once reached the targeted rank all you have to do is maintain the position there long enough to raise brand awareness. This increases conversion rate and then you have a bigger share in the market.

Find customers in the discovery phase
Businesses go all out to find new customers. It is very challenging to catch attention of potential customers with competion at every level. The loop around this is to find customers in the discovery phase.

When people are searching on Google or other search engines, they are attempting to learn more about what they need, or what the choices do they have. This is the ideal time to present your business in front of them. This is only possible through SEO. Being on the front page of the SERP, significantly increases your chance of having the customer click on your website. That first click is all that matters for successfull business and conversion.

So even if your business is the perfect solution to the search, that is just not enough until you rank higher on Google. You need to handle all the SEO best practices with utmost care to ensure Google considers your business for the relevant search terms you want to rank for.

Conclusion

As you can see, the benefits of SEO for small businesses are muti-fold and have a leading edge over other marketing strategies. When you optimize your website for search engines, you are actually making it more convenient for your future clients and they will know how to reward you.