301 Redirects do not effect the ranking of your old content immediately, but will cause a ranking decline over time.
What is a 301 Redirect?
301 Moved Permanently
A 301 Redirect is a file-based redirect that when activated, shows a user different content than the one they requested. This is a server function which allows webmasters to quickly migrate content without having to delete everything in one place, and duplicate it elsewhere. A 301 Moved Permanently response is part of the HTTP Response Codes set.
301 Redirects cause 1 file to have two “call locations.” A call location is where the file is located in a domain files. Each file you upload onto a domain has a unique URI. In order to be displayed and exist on a page, it has to be “called” when a user requests that page. If a URI disappears, or is removed, the HTML “call” for that file will malfunction.
This is because if the page can’t call the URI, then no information is displayed in that spot, however HTML code doesn’t stop if something is missing. So if you have failure to call a paragraph, because you deleted it on the site, it won’t show up! It’s a good and a bad thing, it allows you to go back and make changes to sites, but if a file is missing, it won’t be displayed or display an error message.
So how does this relate to 301’s? Well let’s say we have a long guide on SEO on Site 1, which we want to duplicate and have on Site 2. To avoid Google Penalisations, or the Black Mark, we 301 Redirect from Site 1 to Site 2. This is how the call sequence would then go:
If you think you’ve incorrectly migrated your content and have suffered penalisations as a result, please check out our Index Penalties Overview article to identify and remove the penalisations. If you have received more serious penalties, please read Security Actions for SEO.
> A webmaster decides he wants to move a picture called file.jpg > file.jpg is located under the URI "https://website.com/pictures/2019/file.jpg > The webmaster knows that this is quite a few directories that a user has to travel through, and therefore will make their web load time slower, and make crawling for Search Engines worse > Webmaster decides to move the file somewhere else in his file directory, he thinks "https://website.com/file.jpg" is the best place > Webmaster creates a new file for the picture and puts the picture there and deletes it from the old directory. > Oh no! Now the webmaster has to update all of his other code to make sure that the new directory is called. > The Webmaster creates a 301 Moved Permanently command for the https://website.com/pictures/2019/file.jpg file which says that the new location is https://website.com/file.jpg > Now instead of updating all of his code, which will still call https://website.com/pictures/2019/file.jpg, but when it does it will be told that the new file is at https://website.com/file.jpg > The user-browser says "no problem!" And loads up https://website.com/pictures/2019/file.jpg > https://website.com/file.jpg > The website loads up normal as ever with 1 additional redirect.
301 Redirects are super important for dynamic code, making sure that you don’t need to constantly go back and revisit all of your old code. That would mean 1 change would cause hundreds of other changes, which is extremely inconvenient. The 301 redirect circumvents that.
How do you create a 301 Redirect?
301 Redirects require access to your website .htaccess, a way to interact with your server directories. There are also ways to do it through your index.php document, but we will only be discussing it through the .htaccess system.
To redirect to a page within your domain, copy and paste the following into your .htaccess file:
RedirectPermanent http://www.website.com/old-file.html http://www.website.com/new-file.html
In the above, “RedirectPermanent” is the command line, the first link is the old file link, and the second link is the new file link. This allows you to quickly create 301 Redirects through old & new files!
To redirect your whole domain to an external domain, copy and paste. the following into your .htaccess file:
RedirectPermanent / http://www.website.com/
RedirectPermanent, again is the command line. The “/” signifies your Home page, and the second URL signifies the external domain. The “/” could be changed to directories within your site, but is sometimes not registered by browsers and can cause issues. If you need to link to external domains, simply add buttons or outbound links.
Does it effect the old content’s SEO?
Old files with 301 Redirects will not have their SEO removed or diminished. Over time they will begin to suffer and lose ranking, but initially, and for the first month the 301 Redirect will not effect the page ranking.
This is because Google still recognises the old URL, our old file at https://website.com/pictures/2019/file.jpg is still in the same place, technically providing the same content, and still has factors of Off-Page SEO counting in its favour. It takes Google a while to realise that the traffic coming to this page are leaving quickly, have a high bounce rate, and eventually realises the page is a 301 Redirect.
Ideally, by the time Hummingbird (Google’s ranking algorithm), your site which has had the redirected traffic has built up enough SEO to stand in its place. This would provide you with a smooth transition from content on Site 1, to content on Site 2.
Will it effect the new content’s SEO?
Your new content, the file with the redirected traffic, will begin seeing great improvements in SEO quite quickly, because the page/file isn’t starting completely fresh.
Because this content now resides in a new location, https://website.com/file.jpg, there will be no inbound links, linking text, mentions, social buff, nothing! Other than the traffic coming from https://website.com/pictures/2019/file.jpg. This traffic is an important ranking factor, and will help you off to a head start early.
However, again, this content is seen as totally new by Google, and therefore must start building links, traffic, returning users, and technical Optimisation all from the beginning. This is why I urge you to think twice before you create 301 Redirects throughout your site for migrated content. It’s best to keep URL’s in place that have been around for a while, and instead modify the content or find a different work-around.