Are you using 301 redirects?

One thing about being on the Internet for so many years is that you frequently have to teach yourself new tricks. One of my first clients still brings me back in to consult on occasion, and recently asked for guidance on redirects. (They use redirects in a lot of deep and exciting ways as their site spans multiple server hosts!) A good friend who is a Search expert mentioned to me at dinner Saturday that everyone has moved to 301 redirects, which I hadn’t encountered yet since this is an area that I work in once maybe every couple of years.

In my day, you simply created a quick META redirect and if you wanted to speed it up for modern browsers, you added some Javascript and/or VBScript to flip the page even faster. No more. These days, search engines are wary of these methods, which have been dreadfully abused by spammers and scammers. Now they want you to use ASP, PHP or other server side methods that include a message for spiders notifying them that the change is permanent so they can update their records based on a trustworthy source.

The article How to redirect a web page, the smart way by Steve Hargrove includes all of the code samples you need to pick your method and get started. I trained my client to use the ASP version, which will work on their site and took only seconds to customize:

<%@ Language=VBScript %>
<%
Response.Status=”301 Moved Permanently”
Response.AddHeader “Location”, “http://www.new-url.com/fullpathtonewpage”
%>

The best part is that it’s even easier to configure than a META redirect. The only downside is that you can’t use it to replace an existing HTM page. For that, you’ll probably need to try HTACCESS or one of the other methods. If you are redirecting the home page of a site or subdirectory and your server supports ASP, you can simply move or rename the default.htm and create a default.asp for the redirect and your server should find it (just as long as you don’t direct link to the old HTM page).

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