How to add a 301 redirect in WordPress

Yoast SEO

WordPress is the most popular CMS in the world, powering over 43% of websites which includes our own and many of our clients. WordPress is the go-to choice for all types of businesses and is renowned for being user-friendly and easy to use. 

A 301 redirect is a term you will often hear from an SEO expert as they refer to fixing broken pages on your website, but why are they important? And, more importantly, how can redirects be added to WordPress?

With vast experience in this industry, we are SEO and WordPress experts who are based in the West Midlands. So read on the discover not only how to add a 301 redirect to WordPress, but, why those redirects are important for SEO.

What is a 301 redirect?

A 301 is an HTTP status code sent by a web server to a browser, indicating a permanent redirect from one URL to another. This means that all users requesting the old URL will be automatically redirected to the new URL. A 301 redirect transfers all ranking power from the old URL to the new one and is typically used when a page has been permanently moved or removed from a website.

You can think of a 301 redirect as a forwarding service. If a specific URL has changed or been deleted, anyone trying to visit the old URL will get a 404 (page not found) message. To enhance the user experience, you can instruct the server to forward requests from the old URL to a new URL using a redirect.

When you attempt to visit the old URL, the server sends back the 301 status code and redirects you to the new location. This process happens so quickly that you might not even notice and will simply find yourself on the content you were looking for.

Another important role of a 301 redirect is in search engine optimisation. Properly signalling where content has moved helps search engines like Google keep their indexes up to date.

301 redirect

Why are redirects important for SEO?

When a URL is changed, redirects ensure that users and search engines are sent to the correct URL, allowing them to access the intended content, even if the old URL is still referenced elsewhere.

Below are some of the main reasons why redirects are important for SEO:

  1. Preserving Link Equity – Redirects help transfer the SEO value or “link equity” from the old URL to the new one. A 301 redirect, in particular, passes almost all the ranking power of the old URL to the new URL.
  2. Maintaining User Experience – Redirects prevent users from landing on 404 error pages, which can lead to a poor user experience. By guiding users to a working URL you keep them engaged and on your site, which can indirectly benefit SEO.
  3. Indexing and Crawling – Search engines use redirects to understand where content has moved. A 301 redirect informs search engines that a page has permanently moved to a new location, prompting them to update their index accordingly.
  4. Handling Site Migrations – During website migrations, such as moving to a new domain or changing the site’s architecture, redirects are essential. They ensure that all existing links and search engine listings continue to lead to the right pages, minimising traffic loss and preserving SEO rankings.

Can redirects be bad for SEO?

Like any SEO task, if not done correctly then redirects can hurt SEO for your website. This is why it is vitally important that you adhere to SEO best practices or contact an SEO specialist like R&Co when adding 301 redirects.

Here are some of the most common mistakes made when redirecting broken URLs for SEO:

  • Redirect Chains – Redirect chains occur when there are multiple redirects between the original URL and the final destination URL. This can lead to slower load times, confusing search engine crawlers, and loss of link equity. Ideally, a URL should redirect directly to the final destination without any intermediate steps.
  • Redirect Loops – Redirect loops happen when a URL redirects to another URL, which in turn redirects back to the original URL, creating an endless loop. This prevents the page from loading and can lead to crawling issues for search engines.
  • Redirecting to Irrelevant Pages – Redirecting to a page that is not relevant to the content of the old URL can confuse users and search engines, potentially resulting in higher bounce rates and lower rankings.
  • Mass Redirects to the Homepage – Redirecting all removed or changed URLs to the homepage can be seen as a soft 404 by search engines, which can negatively impact the site’s SEO. It’s better to redirect to a relevant page that closely matches the content of the old URL.

Adding a 301 redirect in WordPress

The method for implementing a 301 redirect varies based on your server and the content management system (CMS) you use.

Implementing redirects in WordPress is relatively simple. If you have a WordPress website, consider using a plugin before exploring other redirect techniques.

Redirection is among the most popular redirect managers for WordPress and is our number #1 plugin choice. You can add single or bulk redirects easily. You can also edit, delete and amend redirects in Redirection and its free!

Adding a new redirect on Redirection

Like Redirection, 301 Redirects is a free and highly-rated plugin. You can redirect old URLs to other similar posts based on title, post types, and categories or tags, or create a new custom URL. It’s also a great choice for website owners who are planning to bulk-edit redirects.

301 Redirects plugin dashboard

The third plugin recommendation is Quick Page / Post Redirect. Like the name suggests it helps you quickly redirect old URL to new URLs and is easy to use. One of the most distinctive features of this plugin is that it allows you to set up redirects for pages that don’t exist yet. Like Redirection you can bulk import and export and once again this is a free plugin. 

Quick Page/Post Redirect

Our last recommendation for a WordPress redirection plugin is Yoast SEO Premium. 

Yoast SEO is one of the most popular WordPress plugins for SEO. While the free version includes many great features, the premium version also offers a redirect manager.

The redirect section allows you to easily redirect your pages to another location on your WordPress site.  You can automate this process for existing content on your site with Yoast SEO Premium. If you change the URL of an existing post or page, the plugin will automatically create a redirect from the old URL to the new one. If you delete a post or page, the plugin will promptly notify you to set up a redirect.

At R&Co, our team of SEO experts have years of experience in providing results-driven SEO strategies. To find out more about how our SEO team could help your business then take a look at our SEO services or get in touch.