How to set up WordPress 301 redirects and improve SEO
301 Redirects can be complicated, fortunately for WordPress, setting up 301 Redirects is pretty easy and it will help improve your overall SEO, here’s how.
WordPress 301 redirects provide the ultimate solution to brand challenges associated with moving websites from one URL to another. It has extensive impacts on SEO, largely considered more positive since 2016 when Google dropped the 15% loss of PageRank it previously imposed on 30x redirects.
Refreshing your WordPress website to enhance user-friendliness and traffic efficiency may, at some point, yield broken links – a situation where some URLs on your website have been deleted or renamed for good. This may be for the purpose of putting off ugly URLs, switching to HTTPS, or perhaps as a strategy to improve SEO on the page. Regardless of how good this may seem, how would search engine bots recognize the change? And what would happen to your website visitors familiar with the previous URL?
How about inbound and internal links pointing to the old URL?
These are problems you can easily manage or completely resolve using a 301 redirect. This article will cover a little on 301 redirects, its impacts on SEO and how to set up WordPress 301 redirects to improve search engine optimization.
What is a 301 redirect?
A 301 redirect indicates a permanent move of a webpage from one URL to another, usually from a requested URL to a different destination URL.
In a simpler context, it’s a feature that will send website visitors and search engines to a different URL (currently working URL) when they try to access the requested (original) URL, which may have become broken or no longer accessible. The process, which is referred to as “to redirect,” can also be used to link different URLs to a single address where search engines would refer to while ranking inbound links to the different addresses.
Also known as a permanent redirect, a 301 redirect represents one of the HTTP status codes 3xx. Other common kinds of URL redirects not considered in this article are 302 and Meta refresh redirect where redirections are not permanent and time-focused respectively. In 301 redirects, the detour page inherits all qualities of the redirected page, including page authority, traffic value, MozRank, and PageRank.
The impacts of 301 redirects on SEO
Google changed the notable ugly impact of 301 redirects on SEO in July 2016, when the search giant announced that “30x redirects don’t lose PageRank anymore” in a tweet. This move made 301 redirects an important tool for improving website ranking in organic search results. However, much care is required while implementing 301 redirects to avoid ruining accrued SEO value, especially if the process is manual or requires some complex steps.
Before the new rule, marketers were reluctant to rename their website URL even when the process seems beneficial. Google’s former Head of Webspam Matt Cutts had in a 2013 video disclosed that using a 301 redirect to redirect one page to another would attract 15% loss of PageRank – a debatable amount of loss, considering all the factors that affect SEO of a website. Many believed the penalty was worth more. As an important tool for improving SEO, 301 redirects now support the following:
Easy switch to SEO-friendly HTTPS prefix
With Google having admitted severally that it has a small rank boost for HTTPS, a switch to the prefix has since become a crucial aspect of improving the SEO of a website. Though the impact doesn’t make a huge difference, it’s quite noticeable. Also, it helps your website visitors to feel more secure. 301 redirects ensure that people visit the HTTPS version of your website.
An easy fix to broken or expired links
Aside from discouraging visitors and limiting backlinks on your website, broken links are known to attract penalties from Google, which impacts negatively on the website SEO ranking. These problems can be resolved easily by simply setting up 301 redirects for dead links to provide continuous access to existing backlinks, boost credibility, and page authority.
Increase to the number of backlinks
While earning credibility with search engine is focused on quality backlinks, the number of backlinks also plays important roles. And this could only be made possible when original links to your website pages remain valid even after chains of rehabilitation on the page. 301 redirects not only notify search engine bots that the page now has a new location but also alerts them to evaluate the page for new changes done to improve its SEO.
The use of 301 redirects may have been categorized safe, but the process requires caution as it may hurt your website performance if redirects are not done correctly.
However, WordPress website owners have nothing to worry about. 301 redirects on WordPress are carefully handled by dedicated plugins, such as the 301 Redirects – Easy Redirect Manager.
301 Redirects – Easy Redirect Manager
The 301 Redirects is a very simple WordPress plugin anyone can use to implement 301 redirects on their WordPress site. The setup process is very user-friendly and doesn’t require any form of coding or experience. Aside from offering super-fast redirection, some of the vital features of 301 Redirects plugin include user’s ability to set a custom destination URL which could be a different website, manage bulk redirects using Import/Export feature, retain query string across redirects, and to monitor redirect stats.
If implemented for your broken pages, when your website visitors send requests through a web browser for the dead pages, instead of the server to return an error message to the visitors saying the page is unavailable, the EPS 301 Redirects plugin would instruct the server to provide your preferred destination. And this simply delivers a destination page to users and search engine bots each time there’s a request for the dead pages.
How to set up WordPress 301 redirects (step by step)
You can install the eps-301-redirects plugin using the WordPress search plugins feature or by uploading a downloaded copy. Click here to download a copy of the eps-301-redirects from wordpress.org if you wish to use the latter procedure and follow the steps below.
- On the left side of your WordPress dashboard or admin panel, click on Plugins>Add New.
- Click on upload plugin, scroll down a bit and click the browse button for a Windows popup. Locate the downloaded .zip file eps-301-redirects plugin on your computer and click on Install Now.
- Click on Activate Plugin when the installation completes
Using the search plugins feature to install 301 redirects
- Click on Plugins>Add New
- Enter eps 301 redirects in the search box
- Look out for 301 Redirects – Easy Redirect Manager by WebFactory Ltd.
- Click on Install Now and activate the plugin when the installation completes.
Setting up redirects using the eps 301 redirects
- On the left side of your admin panel, go to settings>301 Redirects. A click should take you to the EPS 301 Redirects dashboard.
- Enter the old or requested URL in the box under the “Redirect From” column and the destination URL in the box under the “Redirect To” column. You also have the option to click on the drop-down with custom default setting to choose other preferred destinations on the website such as a page, post or media.
- Click on the Save button to activate the 301 redirects.
You can also set up bulk 301 redirects by uploading a list of the requested URLs and the destination URLs in a CSV format. To set this up, click on the Import/Export Redirect Rules tab, click on the browse to select the CSV file and click on the Upload CSV button.
Despite being very easy and straightforward, setting up 301 redirects on WordPress using a dedicated plugin for redirects assures users of implementing redirects correctly. Whether you are changing your domain name entirely or tweaking a few URLs, correct redirects are necessary for maintaining your website’s existing ranking. Please let us know in the comments below if you are having any problems setting up 301 redirects on your WordPress website.