In the world of SEO, it is very easy to talk about the 301 redirects, but not everyone knows what it is exactly, what it is for, how it is done and above all what advantages or disadvantages it has. But we are going to fix that right now.
Redirects are, in short, sending visitors from one website to a different one or from one area of one website to another automatically.
That is, if a visitor enters web1.com, they are automatically redirected to web2.com.
What is a 301 redirect?
For those of you who are not familiar with redirects, first I want to explain in a general way what they are and what they are used for so that we can all follow the thread of the post.
Types of redirects
There are mainly two types of redirects:
- 302 redirect
302 redirects are temporary, that is, when the Google robot tracks them, it interprets them as not being definitive, but is merely temporary.
- 301 redirect
301 redirects, on the other hand, are permanent, therefore they are permanent redirects. So when the Google robot tracks them, it interprets them as such, as web1.com is going to become web2.com permanently and in this case, it is very likely that Google will spend a large part of the “force” from web1.com to web2.com.
Clarification: When we talk about the “Google robot crawling a web “, it is because Google inspects web pages every X time to find out what they have and thus be able to show the best results in its search engine.
And when we talk about the “strength ” of a website, it is about the authority or importance that Google usually gives to the web and then position them better or worse in search results.
How to do a 301 redirect
In order to do 301 redirects, you need to have access to the .htacces file of your hosting or server. It is a configuration file that Apache servers (the ones used by most hosting providers) have to mainly define the behavior of a website when it receives visits.
In the case of 301 redirects, for example, lines are added to the file to automatically redirect the user to web2.com if they have entered web1.com.
This is an example of the line added to the .htacces file of My Web Positioning to make a 301 redirect.
Be careful! Before touching the .htacces file, I advise you to make a backup copy of it because if you change or add something that you should not, your website could stop working.
If something like this happens to you, you can always restore your backup to leave it as it was.
The untapped potential of 301
So far everything seems very simple, and it is clear that 301 redirects are used to change domain and at the same time they are very useful not to lose strength, but… Are they only used for this?
Well no, they are used for much more. Really 301 redirects are an impressive weapon of power in the hands of an SEO eager to fight in search engines.
Do you lose strength or “link juice” in a redirect?
Cases in which strength is lost
When you do a 301 redirect, you run the risk of losing the strength (also called link juice) of the old domain and not completely passing it to the new one.
Generally, this usually happens when we do a 301 redirect of a domain of a subject and we redirect it to another with which it does not have much relation, since in these cases Google will interpret that what we are doing is trying to deceive it because both domains have nothing to do with see.
There are also other cases in which although the theme is the same, if the website to which you are going to redirect it does not have enough authority, it is penalized or is about to be because it “borders on the limits”, perhaps the redirection will harm us more of what can benefit us.
Cases in which strength is not lost
The cases in which you redirect a website with a very similar theme to another usually turn out quite well, especially if the website that receives the redirect has good authority and is “healthy” in the eyes of Google as it will be something very positive; they will join forces from both.
Time in which force is transferred
In most cases, from the first week of redirection, changes begin to be noticed, the force that the redirection gives it begins to be noticed.
However, the strong changes and the complete transfer of force will not be seen until after about 3 months.
How to avoid the penalty
Precautions to be taken
When we do a 301 redirect we run the risk of being penalized, as with any other SEO action we do, since with this we try to manipulate Google search results.
We have to take many precautions and above all a very important one.
If we redirect the web1.com to the web2.com and we also want all the content of the web1.com to be added to the web2.com, we will have to be careful with the structure of the URLs so that when going from web to other does not generate 404 errors.
And even more so when redirects of large webs is made because we could generate thousands of 404 errors, which would be fatal for our positioning.
Clarification: A “404 error ” is the error that a website returns when trying to access a URL that does not exist or has been removed.
We must also be careful with our anchor text profiles since when redirecting one website to the other, our link profile will increase and depending on the website that we redirect we can achieve an excellent link profile or a great over-optimization of anchor text that set Google’s friend Penguin to alarm …
Clarification: When speaking of « anchor text», it refers to the text (also called anchor text) that is used to link to a web. So the “anchor text profile ” would be all the anchor texts that link to a web, and a ” link profile ” would be all those links that point to the web.
Thus an “over-optimization of anchor text ” is understood to be the abuse of the same anchor text in the incoming links to our website. For example, how much do we try to position by keyword1 and keyword2, and the vast majority of the texts in our links are with the anchor text keyword1 and keyword2.
When a 301 can penalize us?
A 301 redirect can penalize us for 2 reasons:
- For doing the redirect wrong and committing the errors that we have previously commented (such as 404 errors, duplicate content, over-optimization of anchor texts, etc.).
- It can also penalize us because we abuse 301 redirects. Like link building, it is good in its fair measure, but if we abuse it it can be penalized. And the same thing happens with 301 redirects, it is not natural to have many on one website because it would set off Google’s alarms.
Strategies to “dominate” Google with 301
One of the great strategies that we can carry out with 301 redirects is to redirect expired domains to our website.
We can try to get expired domains with powerful links of the same theme and redirect these domains to our website to get all the potential or “link juice” of those links.
On some occasions, we mount several parallel projects on the same theme and we get both of them to rise in the Google rankings but not as much as we would like.
- So why not join forces from both domains?
You can redirect the web with the worst positioning to the web with the best positioning, and in this way give all the strength to the best project, thus giving it a great push.
On some occasions, we have small projects with very specific micro-niches, and as their own word says, they are micro and therefore you can get a limited number of visits from them.
- Why not make a mega-niche that brings them all together?
You can make a mega website redirecting each of these micro-niches to a specific section and thus host all of them on the same website, and get all the strength of all those micro-niches in a single domain.
Clarification: Web pages focused on a very, very specific theme are called “micro-niches “. For example, within the “health” niche there would be the “anxiety attacks” micro-niche.
301 redirects also serve to get out of penalties more or less quickly.
For example, when we are penalized by Google Penguin or similar algorithms and we want to remove the domain from the penalty, we have to clear the entire link profile and then wait for the Penguin algorithm to update, which can take too long…
However, if we clean up the link profile and do a 301 redirect to another domain, we will move the entire web to a “clean” domain, with a good link profile and with all the power of your previous domain.
Some also choose to do the double redirection technique: redirect your old domain to another domain of the subject that is, for example, expired, and from this redirect it to a new one.
With this, they manage to mix the link profile of your penalized website with the link profile of the expired domain and send it all with a clean link profile to the new domain, thus giving it extra strength and the intermediate domain serves as a filter.
Landing page unification (in the same domain)
Many times on the same website, we have several landing pages of very similar products or services and we manage to position several landing pages for similar terms.
For example, on a beauty website, position one landing for the keyword “rejuvenating creams” and another for the keyword “anti-wrinkle creams.”
Actually both landing pages speak of something very, very similar, so you could unify both landing pages with a 301 redirect and add the power of the two.
Clarification: The “landing pages” or landing pages are pages in which we want visitors to enter.
Generally, they are the pages that we are interested in positioning in Google results when searching for a term or keyword since they are usually the pages that make us generate income (we sell our product, offer services, put advertising, etc.).
In some projects, the volume does matter and we need a lot more content, but we don’t have time to get it done quickly.
In these cases, the fastest and most effective way to achieve this would be to do a 301 redirect to a website with more content than yours, and thus we would be able to expand its content. It would also be content with force in Google since it was already indexed and surely many of those posts would already be positioned.
This can sometimes be more profitable than paying a writer to write that same amount of articles for you since in this case, we would already have them with a certain force in Google.
Buying from the competition
As the saying goes, if you can’t beat them, join them! Although in this case it would rather be, buy them!
Let’s put ourselves in a situation. Your website is on the second page of Google and you need a good push to get to the first page.
- Why not buy another of the websites that are on the second page with you and add its strength?
You do a 301 redirect on your website and thus you are adding the strength of two websites that are on the second page for that term or keyword.
Depending on the competition that is in that search, you are assured of going to the first page.
How many redirects can we use in the same domain?
Really redirects can be very effective or devastating. It all depends on whether you do them well or whether you make mistakes.
How many can be effective in the same domain?
Well, it really could be one or it could be ten, who knows, since not all websites are the same and not all respond the same.
We should also take into account the issue of authority and age of your website since a new website that has four redirected websites is not very natural and therefore quite “penalizable”.
Does Google penalize from a number of redirects?
One issue that is quite worrying is the amount of 301 redirects we can do from other websites to a single website without being penalized.
It is something very relative, a webmaster doing a single 301 redirect may be penalized and another doing 10 redirects does not.
I can only tell you that you should not abuse them since now Google controls it a lot and any small mistake can send you to the bottom of the abyss.
301 redirect to migrate to https
One of the redirections that webmasters most often consider in recent times is to send their website to the https version (version with SSL security).
All this comes from Google saying that using https would become another of the influencing factors of SEO, and as we all well know, in this SEO everything counts no matter how small.
The problem comes now when we ask ourselves if by doing the redirection we are going to lose strength, if we are going to lose positioning or if our website is going to go to the bottom of the Google abyss. The answer to all these questions is: “can”
When you do a redirect you always run risks and one of them is losing everything you had for any mistake you may commit. Even without making mistakes, you can also have problems.
That is why what you really have to ask yourself is if you really need https and if it will make you earn enough to be worth it.
If the answer is yes, go ahead, get on with migration. But remember to do everything perfectly and respect the URL structure passing everything from http to https without committing any mistake that generates hundreds of 404 errors.
Conclusions about redirects
The most important point of a redirect is simply not to make mistakes, not to do them wrong so as not to be penalized and above all to study very well the website you want to redirect and the website that is going to receive the redirect before doing so.
How to apply it to our project
To apply it to our own project, if you have not worked with redirects before, I recommend that you set up several “test” websites. This way you will be able to experiment since redirects are quite a complex and delicate subject, and if you do it wrong it is better that you do it on a website that does not give you money.
Of course, it is worth it, since once you control the redirects, you can launch yourself to dominate Google.