February 3, 2023

How to Set Up 301 Redirects and When You Should Do it

If you’ve been doing a lot of work on your website, you may have come across the term “301 Redirect” – but what does it mean and is it important? We’ve seen websites lose over 50% of their traffic without the proper set-up and application of 301 redirects, especially when migrating a website. A 301 is a status code from a website that tells a browser if a specific URL has been removed or redirected. This means that when a user clicks on the old page, they’ll be automatically transported to the new page, whether this is on the existing website or a brand new one. They’re extremely valuable for marketers if you need to delete a page, create a new website for rebranding, move an existing page to a different part of your website or more.

So, how do you set up a 301 redirect? Implementing your 301 redirects depends on a variety of factors, including your CMS and reasoning. For example, redirecting a whole website is a different procedure than redirecting a single webpage. Usually, the most efficient way to add a redirect is through the server itself, although other options are available. 

In this article, we’ll guide you through implementing and using 301 redirects on your website to help you to understand what may feel like a daunting technical task. 

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How Do You Set Up a 301 Redirect?

Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to adding a 301 redirect to your website. With each website being unique, each will have a different approach that depends on your server or CMS. We’ve broken down the typical 3 answers for this question below.

Adding a 301 Redirect Onto Your Server

Digital marketers around the world have voted this as the most effective method of adding a permanent redirect to your website. But, it comes at a cost. Not only is this method more complex, but it also runs a higher risk of mistakes being made that could damage your website. That is why it is advised that a developer or IT team add a redirect directly onto your server. 

Usually, this is done by applying the correct code onto the root of your site, otherwise known as the document root or web root. For example, if your CMS runs on Apache, then to redirect a single page you’d simply need to add the following coding:

Redirect 301 /old-page/ /new-page/

Adding a 301 Through WordPress

If you’re using WordPress, then you’re in luck! There are useful plugins you can easily utilise to correctly implement your 301 permanent redirects, such as this one. All you need to do here is simply download and activate the plugin, and then fill out the table stating your old URL and new URL, and then you’re ready to go. 

Adding a 301 Through Shopify

Adding a permanent redirect on Shopify has been made nice and easy. To get started, simply head over to your Settings page and click on Apps and Sales Channels. From there, click ‘Open Sales Channel’, then ‘Navigation’, then click on ‘URL Redirects’. You simply need to copy and paste in the URL you want to redirect users from, and the new URL that they’re being directed to. Once that’s completed, just press save and everything is completed. 

When Should You Use a 301 Redirect?

Now you know how to implement a 301, it’s important to know when you need to use them. There are many typical scenarios where a redirect is required, such as if you need to:

The first two bullet points are the most common reason for needing to use a redirect. For example, if you’re an e-commerce website and a product has gone out of stock, but there’s a replacement product that meets all the same criteria, then a redirect would be useful here. Out-of-stock products can damage your website rankings, and if there’s no possibility of the product returning then using a 301 could be more useful than permanently deleting the page, as you’ll keep your PageRank authority if it was a high-performing page. 

To learn more about what factors affect your page rankings, check out our recent blog that details the most common Google ranking factors

Similarly, if you were looking to rebrand your website, for instance, if you’ve changed your company name, then you can simply move your website onto your new domain without losing any valuable rankings or domain authority. That makes a permanent redirect the obvious choice in this scenario. 

If your website uses folders to organise its website hierarchy, then you will need to learn how to use permanent redirects if you wish to move folders onto your main domain, and vice versa. This simply means that the page gets moved into the site’s root, and a redirect here is useful to gain either more traffic to your main website. 

Why are 301 Redirects Important for SEO?

There are many different scenarios where a permanent redirect will boost the performance of your SEO and overall website rankings. We’ve narrowed down some of the most common reasons below:

There has long been debates within the SEO industry about whether blogs perform better within a subfolder rather than on a root domain or subdirectory; while there’s no conclusive answer to support either side, it is largely agreed that blogs should be redirected into a subfolder unless there are technical issues preventing you from doing so. 

We know what you’re thinking; why would I want to permanently redirect my web page onto another if they’re not the same? Well, ask yourself this. Are they really that different? 

Search engines such as Google don’t only penalise your web pages if they’re trying to rank for the same keyword, but it also penalises you if two pages have the same intent. With this in mind, if the two pages aren’t really that different after all, then it makes sense to merge the two into one high-performing page using a permanent redirect. 

If you’ve recently purchased a new website, such as in the instance of buying out one of your competitors, then a permanent redirect from their website onto yours will be beneficial. Alternatively, you could have an existing old website that you can redirect to your new shiny website. No matter the SEO value of the redirect, it’ll definitely add value overall. 

As previously mentioned, if you’re an e-commerce company and a product has recently gone out of stock with no intent of it returning, then these out-of-stock products could be damaging your rankings. To avoid losing your top positions, it’s best to redirect these old pages onto new, similar ones that match the same intent. If the old page had any SEO value, then that value will simply be transferred to the new page. 

Similar to the cannibalisation issue, if you have two pages on your website that are using similar keywords and have the same intent, then it makes sense to merge them into one high-performing page using a 301. 

If your website is suffering from penalisation on search engines as a result of broken links, then a 301 redirect is the best way to solve the issue. Here, you simply need to find another page on your website that matches the keywords and intent to replace the broken page/links with, or create a new page to redirect to. 

Get Help with Your 301 Redirects from Wildcat Digital 

We understand that technical SEO is complex. That’s why our expert team is here to help. If you’re struggling with issues with your redirect, simply get in touch with one of our useful team members and we’ll be able to support you 

FAQs

Are 301 and 302 Redirects the Same Thing?

No. A 301 redirect is a permanent change, while a 302 is a temporary redirect 

When Would You Use a 302 Redirect?

Only use a 302 redirect if you’re going to make the old page live again or if you’re going to set up a new one.

Post by

Rachel Moore

Will Hitchmough

Founder

Our founder, Will Hitchmough, worked at a number of high profile Sheffield Digital Agencies before founding Wildcat Digital in 2018. He brings an extensive knowledge of all things related to SEO, PPC and Paid Social, as well as an expert knowledge of digital strategy.

Digital Marketing can be a minefield for many businesses, with many agencies ready to take your money without knowing how to deliver results. I founded Wildcat Digital to deliver digital success to businesses with smaller budgets in a transparent way.

Chloe Robinson

Content Strategist Team Lead

With a degree in Marketing and a background in more traditional, offline marketing, Chloe joined Wildcat in 2021 after deciding to move into the digital marketing industry. She joined us as a Content Specialist and quickly moved up the ranks, becoming a Content Strategist and later an SEO Team Leader.

Outside of work, Chloe is an avid creative. If she’s not knitting, you’ll likely find her behind a sewing machine or in the kitchen trying (and often failing!) to make sourdough.

Paul Pennington

SEO Account Director

Paul has a strong background in SEO, having previously founded and ran a successful eCommerce business, as well as running a personal blog that achieves an average of 17K users per month. Paul’s knowledge of SEO is extensive, with a strong emphasis on client handling and technical SEO.

Outside of work, Paul enjoys spending time with his family and staying active with weight lifting and combat sports.

Nadea van der Merwe

Head of Operations

Nadea joined Wildcat in 2021 and has since overhauled the way we work. She has a background in various administrative, operations and HR roles, which gave her the experience and skills needed to lead and organise a growing business. 

Outside of work, Nadea loves anything that keeps her active, but she especially enjoys hiking, camping and mountain biking.

Molly Sturgeon

SEO Account Manager

With a background in sales, Molly is a natural Account Manager, brilliantly handling any issues that come her way. Having joined us as a Digital Marketing Executive, and working part-time through her final year of University, Molly is a shining example of how hard work pays off. She is now an SEO Account Manager with a particular interest in Content and Client Management. 

In her spare time, Molly loves to get out in nature, hiking and exploring the Peak District. She also loves cooking and likes to unwind with a bit of yoga.

Libby Oldale

Senior PPC Account Manager

Libby joined Wildcat in 2021 as our first PPC hire. With a degree in Digital Media Production, a Master’s in Digital Media Management and previous experience in Social Media Management, Libby hit the ground running and has since climbed the ranks to Senior PPC Account Manager and has a particular interest in the eCommerce sector.

Outside of work, Libby likes gaming, and cooking and likes to keep active by lifting weights.

Jasmine Savery

SEO Team Leader

Jasmine joined Wildcat in 2022 with a strong background in SEO and Account Management. At the time, she was finishing up a Level 4 Apprenticeship in Digital Marketing from the Chartered Institute of Marketing, and has since worked her way up to SEO Team Leader. Jasmine excels at content writing and promotion, and particularly enjoys finding creative ways to join the dots on multi-channel campaigns.

In her spare time, Jasmine volunteers at a charity, helping combat loneliness & social isolation experienced by older neighbours. Outside of Wildcat, she owns a catering company, Savery Grazing, creating delicious grazing tables & platters for a range of events. She also loves skiing and exploring the Peak District.

Braden Godley

Senior PPC Executive

Prior to joining Wildcat, Braden founded and ran his own Social Media Management agency where he gained valuable skills in growing brands’ online presence, which has since proven invaluable in his role at Wildcat. 

Outside of work, Braden is a big football fan, regularly travelling to Pride Park to support Derby County. He also enjoys watching and playing snooker, hiking in the Peak District, and attending air and car shows.

Jon Herdman

Senior SEO Executive

After spending ten years managing businesses, restaurants, cafes and event spaces across Sheffield, Jon decided to change careers and joined Wildcat as an SEO Executive in 2022. He especially enjoys the client management side of the job, helping them to understand digital marketing and ways in which they can build their business’s presence online. 

Outside of work, Jon likes to keep fit with running, badminton and football, and also loves music. 

Rachel Davies

SEO Executive

Rachel joined us as a graduate, having recently graduated from Sheffield University with a degree in English Literature. Since joining, Rachel has proven herself to be a Content Queen, and particularly enjoys getting stuck into projects that allow her to explore her creative side. 

Outside of work, Rachel enjoys a wide range of hobbies, including rugby, singing, reading, and spending time with her family and three labradors.

Carl Atterbury

PPC Team Leader

Carl joined Wildcat in 2023 with a wealth of experience in PPC. He has experience working with a wide range of clients, industries and budgets, from small local businesses all the way to international e-commerce businesses. Carl has a particular interest in strategic planning and forecasting. He is passionate about data analysis and creating sustainable long-term cross-channel strategies.

In his spare time, Carl enjoys keeping fit by lifting weights, bouldering and running. He’s also a keen musician, having played the double bass and bass guitar for 20 years.

Dariusz Baczyk

Team Lead & Technical SEO Account Manager

With a degree in Computer Science and SEO experience dating back to 2017, Dariusz has a wide range of SEO skills and knowledge. His specialist knowledge of Technical SEO has firmly landed him the title of Wildcat’s Technical Wizard, and he has recently taken on the responsibility of Team Leader for the Panthers Team.

In his spare time, Dariusz loves hiking, experimenting and trying new coffees and loves learning new things. He is currently learning more about CRO and AI and how this could benefit our clients.

Jamie Stowe

SEO Account Manager

With a degree in Film and TV production, and a varied career history, Jamie made the move to marketing with a Masters degree in Digital Media Management. He has since worked in SEO at Agencies across Sheffield, before joining Wildcat and working his way up to SEO Account Manager. Jamie has a particular interest in backlinks and Digital PR and has recently gained a client a valuable backlink from Forbes!

In his spare time, Jamie is an avid foodie and loves trying new restaurants and cuisines. He also loves to travel and spent a year travelling to Australia after university.

Andy Blanchard

SEO Executive

Andy joined Wildcat in 2023 after starting his digital marketing career in-house for a local Sheffield company. Since joining, he has developed a strong interest in Technical SEO and has strong skills in Account Management. 

Outside of work, Andy loves music and plays in a couple of bands. He also enjoys rock climbing, cycling, photography and good food.

Siena Russell

Client Success Coordinator

Siena joined us in 2023 with a background in sales and digital marketing. She leads on client relationships across the company, ensuring that our customers are happy throughout their journey with us, from their initial consultation through to onboarding and beyond. 

Outside of work, Siena enjoys travelling and getting stuck into the local culture. She likes to make the most of her experiences and particularly enjoys watching sunrises and sunsets from beautiful locations around the world.

Thea Chapman

Senior SEO Executive

Thea has a wealth of experience in SEO, having previously worked for other Digital Marketing Agencies in Sheffield. She has a particular interest and skills in Technical SEO, but is more than willing to get stuck in and give anything a go. 

Outside of work, Thea spends most of her time with her children, but also loves reading, photography and gardening. 

Tom Brookes

PPC Executive

Before joining Wildcat, Tom worked across different industries, building skills in sales and customer service. He later developed a passion for digital marketing whilst working on personal marketing projects and freelance ventures, and gained numerous certifications in PPC and Social Media. 

Outside of work, Tom enjoys staying active by going to the gym and hiking. He also loves travelling and motorbiking.

Rich Ayre

Head of Growth

Rich joined us in May 2024 to head up our growth team. With years of experience helping other agencies to grow, Rich joins us at an exciting time as Wildcat is working on a five-year plan to become one of the biggest agencies in the UK.

Outside of work, Rich is a father to three children, which keeps him very busy! He’s also recently started running again to keep fit and loves a bit of DIY.

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