301 Redirect Definition & Meaning

What Is a 301 Redirect?

A 301 redirect is an HTTP status code sent by a web server to a browser that signals a permanent redirect from one URL to another. Users who request the old URL will be automatically sent to the new URL.

301 redirects are important for websites because these HTTP responses forward users to a new destination page. Without a 301 redirect in place, the user would receive a 404 Not Found response code; meaning the web server could not find the web page being requested.

A 301 redirect is essential for search engine optimization (SEO) for the following reasons:

  • It ensures traffic to old web pages that have been moved or deleted is now sent to the new URLs.
  • It lets search engine crawlers know what the correct URL destination is to keep the indexes up to date.
  • It makes sure that all search engine visibility the old page had is transferred to the new page.
  • It redirects all backlinks to the old URL to the new URL.
  • It passes all link equity acquired from the original web page to the destination URL.

As you can see, using a 301 redirect can help a website retain its current rankings in the search engine results pages (SERPs) if a web page has to be permanently moved or deleted. A common example of this is when a URL is changed to be more SEO-friendly. The 301 redirect from the old URL to the new URL allows Google’s search engine to swap out the URLs in the index without the ranking positions being affected.

Additionally, a 310 redirect can help increase the rankings for a target URL or an entire domain. A common practice in the SEO industry is for people to purchase expired domains that have accumulated a lot of quality backlinks. Next, the new domain owner sets up a 301 redirect to send all of those broken backlinks to a new domain or specific web page; essentially, artificially boosting the backlink profile of the new target domain or URL to increase its Google PageRank score.

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Go to the SEO Glossary to find more terms and definitions that relate to the field of search engine optimization.