How To Properly 301 Redirect A Website Domain

It’s a common question that pops up. You own several domains and host duplicate copies of the same site (or simply point them all to one site). Your business strategy changes and so does the need to change to a new domain. You buy out your competitor’s site but just want to point it to your own. There are many reasons WHY you would want to redirect a domain, but making sure proper redirects are in place can be the difference between advancing your site in the SERPs to dropping out of the SERPs altogether. For additional reading, see our post on resolving canonical issues with 301 Redirects as well (www vs non-www pages).

  1.  Consider the value of the domain(s) you are redirecting. MAX out the domain registration to preserve your backlinks as well as to protect against someone buying it up later. It will also preserve any browser bookmarks that are out there to the old domain. This first step is not a requirement for 301 redirecting a domain.
  2. Point the old domain to the new using proper 301 Redirects:
    A) An .HTACCESS file:

    • 301 Redirect an entire website domain:
      Redirect 301 / http://example.com/
      NOTE: This maps old pages to new pages 1 to 1… If the new page doesn’t exist on the new site, you will get 404 errors. So, be careful with this common redirect.
    • 301 Redirect an entire website domain to a single page: 
      RewriteEngine on
      RewriteRule ^.*$ http://www.example.com/index.html [L,R=301]
    • 301 Redirect a page to a sub-folder:
      Redirect /index.html http://example.com/newdirectory/
    • 301 Redirect a page to a new website page:
      Redirect /oldfile.html http://example.com/newfile.html

    B) Or within Windows IIS (will need to work with website administrator)

  3. Again, if the domain is not an exact match to the new destination website, a whole site 301 redirect will not work. In this case, 301 redirects should be employed page by page (section by section). Pages that relate can be redirected to their proper counterparts. Any pages that have no homes can simply be redirected to the homepage.
  4. When all website 301 redirects are in place, check your work:
    A) Take a sampling of URLs from the old site (representing groups of redirects) and check to make sure they all resolve as proper 301 redirects.  This site, http://www.webconfs.com/http-header-check.php, has a tool which when you put in the URL should mention that it’s a 301 from page A to B.
    B) See what Google sees. Go to Google and do a site search (Translation, put the following into a Google search, site:YOURSITE.com). Check each link to make sure that it is actually going where it should be. Fix any issues.

301 Redirects can be a bit tricky to use, and if not coded properly, they just won’t work. If you need HELP ensuring proper 301 redirects are set up on all of your website properties, contact Mannix Marketing – experts in Internet Marketing since 1996.

About Sara Mannix

Sara Mannix is the CEO of Mannix Marketing, Inc., a Digital Marketing Agency headquartered in Glens Falls, NY. She founded Mannix Marketing in 1996 with a goal to get clients "found" on the web through organic Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The company now serves over 1500 clients worldwide and employs a team of nearly 30 specialists, still operating under the tagline "We Get You Found On The Web." This multifaceted company is an industry leader, specializing in organic SEO, Conversion Rate Optimization, SEO-friendly Website Design, Online Advertising, Social Media and more. Mannix Marketing also has one of the largest portfolios of tourism and city guides in Upstate New York. These guides, which include Albany.com, Saratoga.com, LakeGeorge.com, GlensFallsRegion.com, CliftonPark.com and Adirondack.net, reach over 10 million visitors a year. Corresponding social media profiles for the region extend this reach to millions more on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube and more.