Posted to Ben Finklea's blog on February 25th, 2009

301 Redirect

You may have heard the term “301 Redirect” before and just assumed it was code for something like “Don’t eat the tuna” or “Your wife is on line 3 and she sounds peeved”. 301 redirect is actually the most efficient and search engine friendly method for web page redirection. It’s not very hard to implement and it should preserve your search engine rankings for that particular page. If you have to change file names or move pages around, it’s also the safest option.

The search engines interpret the code “301” as “moved permanently”. After the code, the URL of the missing or renamed page is noted, followed by a space, then followed by the new location or file name. You implement the 301 redirect by creating a .htaccess file. When a search engine spider or visitor requests your web page, your web server checks for a .htaccess file. The .htaccess file contains specific instructions for certain requests, including security, redirection issues and how to handle certain errors.

How to implement the 301 Redirect (Thanks, iSiteBuild!):

1. Create a .htaccess file, open notepad, name and save the file as .htaccess (there is no extension).

2. If you already have a .htaccess file on your server, download it to your desktop for editing.

3. Place this code in your .htaccess file:

redirect 301 /old/old.htm

4. If the .htaccess file already has lines of code in it, skip a line, then add the above code.

5. Save the .htaccess file

6. Upload this file to the root folder of your server.

7. Test it by typing in the old address to the page you've
changed. You should be immediately taken to the new

Remember, don't add "http://www" to the first part of the statement - place the path from the top level of your site to the page. When the search engines spider your site again they will follow the rule you have created in your .htaccess file. The search engine spider doesn't actually read the .htaccess file, but recognizes the response from the server as valid.

During your next update, the old file name and path will be dropped and replaced with the new one. Sometimes you may see alternating old/new file names during the transition period, plus some fluctuations in rankings. According to Google it will take 6-8 weeks to see the changes reflected on your pages.

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