You’ve seen your fair share of these; when a browser happens upon a site that has a status code message starting with 3, it tells it to go to another location. The following numbers in the code tell it why: so, a 301 tells the browser that the site that was located here has moved permanently.
Because the 301 redirect indicates that your site has moved permanently, you obviously want to use it when…your site moves permanently! It is useful when you move to a new domain, when visitors typically access your site via a different URL (it sends them to your preferred URL), or if you are merging two websites.
301s are also essential in terms of SEO. Moving to a new domain can completely wipe out any traction you have made in the search engine results pages.
If you love intricate, difficult, mind-boggling code that separates you from the mere mortal, creating 301 redirects is going to bore you to tears. Luckily, though, that means those of us who are usually mind-boggled at code can do it with relative ease. Here are the steps for those using Unix servers:
• Download your .htaccess file to edit. When a specific page is requested, this file provides instructions that you may wish to include, such as redirection or security issues. If you do not have an .htaccess file, create one by opening notepad, naming and saving the file as .htaccess
• Once you have your .htaccess file ready, enter this code using the indicated spacing:
Redirect 301 /OldPage.html http://newname.com/NewPage.html
• Save the file.
• Upload your newly edited .htaccess file to the root folder of your server. Your web hosting company may have a utility that allows you to do this easily, or you can use File Transfer Protocol.
• Test the redirect. Type the old address into the page you’ve changed; you should be taken to your new location.
Not too tedious, and the work is worth it when visitors are seamlessly moved to your current site and you lose none of your SEO advantage.