Understanding technical terms when you’re new to blogging can take time—so what is a 301 redirect?
Here’s the definition of what a 301 redirect is:
What is a 301 redirect?
A 301 redirect is the permanent redirection of one URL forwarding both traffic and search engine crawlers to a different URL. The 301 redirect is best for SEO as it passes the most link authority (between 90-99%) to the redirected page, which contributes greatly to ranking power.
The process of redirection is designed to forward one URL to a different URL (almost always on the same blog or website).
Redirection is most often used to send website visitors (and search engines) to a different—usually new and updated—URL from the one they originally requested.
A 301 redirect is the most permanent and safest redirect to use for blog SEO best practices when you want to pass as much link authority as possible from the old URL to the new URL.
The number 301 indicates the HTTP status code for this type of URL redirect, and this type of redirect gives you the highest possibility of retaining your organic search rankings for the keyword phrases the old URL was ranking for. Those rankings should usually be passed directly on to the new URL.
In most cases, a 301 redirect is going to be the best HTTP status code for a redirect to use on your blog (when you want to move a page or post’s contents to a new URL).
Changing the URL (permalink) of an existing blog post or page on your site without setting up a 301 redirect will result in what’s called a broken link.
And you don’t want that. Broken links are bad for the health of your blog because they’ll send readers (and search engine crawlers) to a page that doesn’t exist anymore—thus resulting in a terrible experience.
How do I create a 301 redirect?
To set up a 301 redirect quickly & safely, I recommend using a free WordPress plugin like Easy Redirect Manager (like I use here on my own blog), to quickly set up a 301 redirect for any post or page you plan to move to a new URL.
After installing the plugin, it’s super simple to use. Navigate to Settings > 301 Redirects and you’ll see a complete list of all your 301 redirects, along with the ability to quickly add new 301 redirects across your site:
And it’s that simple!
You’ve now set up a 301 redirect that’ll forward all traffic and search engines to the new destination URL. You should also see most, if not all of the link authority your previous URL had—pass on to the new destination URL you’re redirecting to.
It make take some time for the page authority of your new URL to rise, but it shouldn’t take more than a few weeks.
Can I redirect an expired domain to my blog?
Shortly after publishing this article, I got this question in the comments (thanks Akinduyo 🙏) and I’ve actually been asked this a few times from readers over the past year—so I felt it warranted a deeper dive answer.
To rephrase Akinduyo’s question and add a little more context…
Question: Is it safe from an SEO perspective to purchase an expired domain (that had some existing domain authority) and redirect that URL to point at your blog, with the goal of passing that domain authority on to your main site?
In short, I wouldn’t recommend redirecting an expired domain to your blog.
The only exception would be if you’re purchasing a domain that very recently expired and had some real content that you’re going to migrate over to your main blog.
In that case, a redirect of an expired domain could be justifiable, because you’re bringing over real content that’s been previously indexed—and this redirect should be recognized as what appears to be a genuine website migration.
Here’s why I wouldn’t do it.
I strongly believe search engines like Google have done an increasingly great job of identifying these types of link-building schemes (especially this one) and they won’t reward your main blog if you just redirect the expired domain.
You might actually even hurt your domain authority or see a manual action against your blog because of unnatural link activity. And Google’s only going to get better at detecting unnatural links and other suspicious activities designed to juice a site’s domain authority in the years to come.
That being said, I don’t claim to know everything about how Google’s algorithm functions behind-the-scenes, so this is just my best advice based on using only ethical strategies to grow my blog.
What I do know for sure—is that I’d never risk redirecting an expired domain to my own blog.
The underlying goal of this strategy is actually very smart though.
Making an inexpensive acquisition of an expired domain that used to be something real (in your industry) and had readers, backlinks & some built up authority in the past—with the goal of building up your own blog’s authority, by pointing that previously reputable domain to your site, is pretty savvy.
Five or ten years ago, it would’ve been a great strategy.
A much better move today though, would be to restore the expired domain to an older version of what it used to look like—or even just make it a brand new one-page website today with real content on the homepage.
Then, you can link to your main blog a couple of times from the homepage of that previously expired domain once you’ve gotten it hosted and live again. This way, it’ll be a real website with some actual content.
And as a result of linking to your main blog—you’ll be passing any domain authority & page authority (through the links on that homepage) over to your main blog.
That’s what I’d do.
11 replies to “What is a 301 Redirect? How to Set up 301 Redirects on Your Blog”
hi Ryan, this post came right on time. I have been thinking about redirecting an expired domain to my main blog.
but I’m considering if its against Google policy.
could you please shed more light on this
Great question! In my personal experience, I wouldn’t recommend doing a redirect of an expired domain to your main blog (unless you’re fully migrating a bunch of content over to your main blog). I think search engines have done a pretty good job of catching on to these types of link schemes and they won’t reward your main blog much if you just redirect the expired domain. I could be wrong, but it’s not something I’d ever risk doing with my own site.
A much better move would be to restore the expired domain you purchased, to an older version of what it used to look like—or even just make it a new one page site today with real content on the homepage—then just link to your main blog a couple of times from the homepage of that previously expired domain once it’s hosted/live again. That way, you’ll be passing any Domain Authority & Page Authority through a link on that homepage, over to your main blog’s homepage (and maybe a key article or two). That’s what I’d do 🙂
Thanks Ryan, will try that out.
When I flirted with setting up a 301 redirect on the DNN domain name and masked an affiliate link under a specific sub-domain to redirect it to the affiliate page, I noticed my SEO started going bad. I’m wondering if there’s an SEO safe way to cloak affiliate links under a sub-domain and do a 301-safe redirect. Hopefully there is?
I was testing WordPress on my test domain and forgot to check that Google doesn’t crawl my website. I posted one long blogpost and accidentally found out that it’s snowing on page 1 for one long tail keyword…I want to move that blogpost to my ‘real’ domain, but don’t want to be punished for duplicate content. How can I redirect just this one post?
Hey Karo! My advice would be not to set up a 301 redirect in this case (since you’ll be 301 redirecting from Domain A to Domain B)…
I’d recommend simply publishing the article on your main domain as a new piece of content and deleting it from your test domain. It might not get indexed right away, but over the course of a few weeks, search engines should naturally pick up the fact that the article has been removed from your test domain and now lives on your main domain.
I believe in a previous article you had recommended Quick Page & Post Redirect Plug-In. Do you recommend 301 Redirect as a better option? Which one is your preferred Plug-In?
Thank you, Carlos Da Silva
Hey Carlos! Yep, that’s correct—I now recommend Easy Redirect Manager (https://wordpress.org/plugins/eps-301-redirects/) as the top plugin for managing your redirects. The previous one I was recommending stopped getting updates from the plugin creator and was getting out of date 🙂
Hi Ryan! Is it possible to switch domain names in blogger and use 301 page to update all the links? I switched to the new domain name correctly but the old one is showing 404 which I need to redirect to the new one and not only the main url but all the links. Thank you
Hey Sylwia, that’s a great question! If you still have access to the old domain name in question, then yes you should be fine to individually 301 redirect old posts/pages to their corresponding new locations on your new domain/website. If you’re talking about A LOT of pages/links though, then I wouldn’t personally take that approach… Google will be able to naturally detect that your website has essentially “moved” (after some time) as long as you take down your old site entirely and get all of your new content live soon.