A 301 redirect is like a map that will take your website’s visitors from a page or post that no longer exists to one that does.
Imagine trying to get your groceries delivered, but the map app stops at the end of your street and doesn’t take the delivery guy all the way to your house. If he has to stop at all the houses on your street to find you, then your popsicles will be melted. Or worse, he’ll take your groceries and go back to the store.
A 301 redirect will complete the journey to the correct destination.
In this guide to 301 redirects, we’ll cover everything you need to know about 301 redirects for your WordPress website, including seven things you need to know about 301 redirects and how to create a 301 redirect in WordPress.
What Is a 301 Redirect?
HINT: It has nothing to do with your area code.
In geek-speak, the 300-series of HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) status codes is used to show that a redirect should occur for various reasons. So, what is a 301 redirect?
What is a 301 redirect? In a nutshell, a 301 redirect is a particular status code that indicates that whatever page the user is trying to access has permanently moved. In other words, it means that the URL they used is an old URL and should be updated. Unless the user has configured their browser to block redirects (high-security configurations usually do this), they’ll visit the updated URL instead.
The main reason a WordPress site would utilize a 301 redirect is to control how the site is accessed. We’ll take a look at the mechanics behind these redirects, how to create a 301 redirect in WordPress, and why you should make one.
TIP: If the last three paragraphs sounded like Charlie Brown’s school teacher then you might want to check out this ebook: Beginner Guide to WordPress.
7 Things to Know About 301 Redirects
When it comes to understanding 301 redirects, here are a few important (technical and non-technical) things to know.
- Plan for a 301 redirect anytime you delete a post or page on your website. Whenever you delete a post or page on your website or blog, you need to think about which post or page should replace it. That’s where 301 redirects come in.
- A 301 redirect helps you avoid 404s. As a best practice for a variety of reasons, 404s (also known as “page not found”), should be avoided. A 404 is what happens when you delete a post or page and don’t create a 301 redirect to a new post or page.
- Major search engine providers recommend that you immediately add a 301 redirect when changing the URL of a page. This way, their search engines can track the changes and keep their results to your site up-to-date.
- There are highly technical ways to create 301 redirects or you can use a tool like a WordPress plugin.
This article was written by Kristen Wright and originally published on WordPress News and Updates from iThemes – iThemes.