What is a 301 redirect?

301 redirect

A 301 redirect is a specific server statement for Apache Web Servers. The redirect tells the accessing browser (or Google), that the called up URL (ie is now to be found under a different URL (ie, as a result the browser (or Google) can automatically access the new page.

301 redirects – technically speaking

Technically speaking, a 301 server message/report transmits the so called HTTP-status code "301 Moved Permanently". Consequently, when a Google-Bot or the web browser of any visitor accesses the site, the server answers with the HTTP-status code "301", but only if the requested URL (ie a HTML-page or PDF document) was moved permanently and is now and forever to be found under a new URL.

Therefore, 301 redirects only apply when paths to HTML pages or documents change permanently, not when they change temporarily.

By outputting this 301-status code, the web server asks for all search queries for this particular URL by the client (webbrowser/ google-bot) to be redirected to the new target URL and to directly access said URL.

For visitors (and of course Google), this 301 redirect provides a charming advantage: the user will not end up on an error page but on the desired page/document or matching content accordingly.
This kind of redirect will ordinarily go unnoticed by the conventional user, since on the one hand, the process is pretty fast, and on the other hand, the browser address bar changes without direct action by the user.

When should I use a 301 redirect?

Whenever the URL of a page or say a document/picture changes, a 301 redirect is needed. Possible scenarios would be:

  • Relaunch of a page with a new CMS / Shop
  • Moving from one Domain to another
  • Merging Domains
  • When content is accessible via 2 or more Domains
  • When new versions of documents or HTML pages are uploaded and the URLs change (this often happens on larger web pages during operation)
  • if the same content is accessible via different URLs

Why should I use a 301 redirect?

Simple. First, the loss of your position in the Google ranking is avoided, because Google reacts to these 301 redirects very well and also demands them. Second, this is very helpful for users who reach your site via a link from another page. If they can't find what they are looking for, because the URL is not accessible anymore, you will lose them.

When should I use the relaunchapp for 301 redirects?

You will use relaunchapp if you want to set up more than just a handful of redirects. Especially in case of a Relaunch, using our app is basically indispensable, since often times practically all of the URLs, files, etc changes. In particular with large websites it is nearly impossible to handle all the redirects manually, apart from the fact that doing this would take an incredible effort. This outlay can be dramatically decreased and the whole process can be optimised significantly.

Furthermore, utilisation of our app pays off during operation as well: as soon as you operate a page, the URLs, docs or images of which are constantly changing, you will need the relaunchapp.

Matt Cutts / Google on 301 redirects (engl/German subtitles)

Matt Cutts explains how many 301 redirects are allowed per page: