Clicking on a link and being greeted by a “404 Page Not Found” message can be a jarring experience for any user. This often happens when the page they’re trying to reach no longer exists. As a website owner, this can be detrimental to both your user experience and SEO efforts. Thankfully, there’s a solution to this issue – the 301 redirect.
The Problem: Broken Links
When a visitor clicks a link to your store, they expect to find the product or content promised in that hyperlink. However, if you’ve restructured your site or removed discontinued items, visitors may land on a 404 error page. This results in a poor user experience, potentially causing them to leave your site and never return. Beyond that, it can negatively affect your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts as search engines may devalue your site due to the presence of these ‘dead ends’.
The Solution: 301 Redirects
A 301 redirect is a way of telling both users and search engines that a page has permanently moved to a new location. When a visitor lands on a page that has been redirected, their browser is automatically sent to the new page. It’s a seamless process, providing a smooth user experience.
Importance of 301 Redirects
Implementing 301 redirects is vital for several reasons. First, it preserves the user experience. Users find what they’re looking for without encountering any frustrating ‘dead ends’. Second, it helps maintain your site’s SEO health. When you delete a page without creating a redirect, any backlinks pointing to that page are essentially wasted. A 301 redirect, however, passes the majority of the link equity to the new page, helping to preserve your site’s organic ranking power.
SEO Benefits of 301 Redirects
From an SEO perspective, 301 redirects are essential. They help search engines understand changes or movements within your site, aiding in properly indexing your content. When used correctly, 301 redirects can:
- Preserve link equity: Backlinks are a key component in how search engines determine your site’s authority. By using 301 redirects, you ensure that the link equity from the original page is passed to the new one.
- Prevent loss in organic traffic: Broken links can result in a drop in your organic rankings. However, implementing 301 redirects can prevent this by seamlessly directing users and search engines to the correct page.
- Support site restructuring: If you’re redesigning, reorganizing your site, or deleting a large number of products, 301 redirects can help maintain your site’s SEO performance by guiding users and search engines to the right content.
How to Create Redirects in BigCommerce
Your Store Tools, our free toolkit that’s packed with free tools to help manage your BigCommerce store, has a 301 Bulk Uploader tool that makes uploading 301 redirects in bulk quick and easy! You’ll first need to create a free Your Store Tools account by clicking here.
Once that’s done, click on the 301 Bulk Upload tool and follow these simple steps to get started:
Step 1: Create your CSV file: This file should contain a “from” and “to” column.
- The “from” column will contain the page that you want to redirect. Do not put in the full URL, just the page name such as item.html. It’s important to note, that it is not necessary to include the forward slash, however, if it’s included, it will simply be ignored during the import process.
- The “to” column will contain the page you want it redirected to. This can be an existing page in your store or an external site. If it’s an existing page, simply enter the page name such as /newitem.html. In this case, it is necessary to include the forward slash. If you’re redirecting to an external site, simply put in the entire URL path.
Step 2: Click on the 301 Bulk Upload Tool: First, select the storefront you want the redirects uploaded to, then select the CSV file you want to upload.
Step 3: Map Your Fields: Map the “from” and “to” fields appropriately, then click Next.
Step 4: Select an Email Notification: If you want to be notified when your import is successful, simply select Yes, if not select No, then click Submit.
Once uploaded, the 301 redirects will automatically be applied to your store. This way, any users attempting to access the old URLs will be seamlessly redirected to the new ones, ensuring a consistent user experience and the continued effectiveness of your SEO strategy. You can log into your store and select Settings > 301 Redirects to verify.
Watch a Video on How to Upload 301 Redirects in BigCommerce
The video below will guide you through using Your Store Tools to upload 301 redirects to your BigCommerce Store:
In conclusion, 301 redirects are a crucial part of managing your online presence. They protect your site from the negative impacts of broken links, such as a drop in user satisfaction and search engine rankings. By understanding how to effectively implement these redirects, particularly with tools like our 301 Bulk Uploader, you can ensure that your site remains user-friendly and SEO-strong, even as it evolves and grows over time.
Remember, a well-maintained website is an effective website. Regularly check for broken links and always apply 301 redirects when necessary. This proactive approach not only benefits your users but also helps search engines better understand and rank your content. Don’t let the fear of broken links or page removals hinder your website’s development – embrace the power of 301 redirects and keep your site moving forward.
For more information on our 301 Bulk Uploader tool, please visit our support documentation located here.
Scott Sanfilippo began his eCommerce journey in 1994 by co-founding one of the Internet’s first online retailers, TheFerretStore.com, which was acquired by PetCo in 2006. In 2001, he co-founded the eCommerce design and marketing firm Solid Cactus, which was acquired by web.com in 2009. Today, Scott is the General Manager of Your Store Wizards and lives in Delray Beach, FL. Scott can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.