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Understanding 301 Redirects and Their Impact on SEO

When it comes to managing your eCommerce store, few tools are as critical as the humble 301 redirect. As anyone with an understanding of website management will tell you, 301 redirects play an essential role in maintaining a website’s SEO ranking and ensuring a seamless user experience.

What is a 301 Redirect?

A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect from one URL to another. It’s an HTTP status code, and it instructs search engines that a particular page or website has permanently moved to a new location.

When you enter a URL in your browser, your request will be routed to the appropriate server, which will respond with an HTTP status code. This status code informs the browser how to handle the request. For example, a 200 code means the request was successful, while a 404 means the page was not found. A 301 code, however, means the page you’re looking for is not here—it’s moved permanently to a new location.

Why Implement a 301 Redirect?

There are several reasons why you might want to implement a 301 redirect. You may be rebranding or changing your website’s URL, consolidating multiple pages or websites, discontinuing a product and wanting to direct shoppers to an equivalent or replacement item, or even moving content within your website.

From an SEO perspective, 301 redirects help preserve your website’s search rankings when making these changes. They signal to search engines that your content has moved, so your hard-earned SEO equity is transferred to the new location. This allows you to maintain the traffic and ranking positions that you built up on the original page.

How to Implement 301 Redirects in BigCommerce Using Your Store Tools

The task of implementing 301 redirects might seem daunting, especially if you’re dealing with a large number of URLs. Fortunately, if you’re a BigCommerce user, we have a free 301 Redirect Upload tool that simplifies the process by allowing you to upload redirects in bulk.

To use this tool, follow these steps:

  1. Create a free Your Store Tools account and link your BigCommerce store by clicking here.
  2. Within Your Store Tools, select the ‘301 Redirects Uploader’ tool.
  3. Prepare a CSV file that lists your old URLs in the first column and the new URLs in the second.
  4. Select your CSV file within the app, and then upload it. Your Store Tools will automatically implement the redirects for you.

Here’s a quick video that shows how easy it is to upload your 301 redirects using our free tool:

By providing a bulk upload feature, Your Store Tools saves you from the tedious process of manually entering every redirect and ensures your redirects are implemented correctly and efficiently.

The Risks of Ignoring 301 Redirects

What happens if you don’t implement a 301 redirect? In a nutshell, you risk losing your SEO ranking, frustrating users, and harming your website’s credibility.

Without a 301 redirect, users who click on an old URL will not be automatically directed to the new location. Instead, they’ll likely encounter a 404 error page, leading to a poor user experience. Worse yet, this can cause your website to lose the valuable SEO equity associated with that page.

Search engines, seeing the ‘page not found’ error, will assume the content has been removed and adjust their index and rankings accordingly. This can result in a significant drop in your website’s visibility in search engine results.

301 redirects are vital for preserving your website’s SEO ranking when making changes to your eCommerce store’s structure. Ignoring 301 redirects can lead to poor user experience and loss of valuable SEO equity. Thankfully, platforms like BigCommerce, combined with tools like Your Store Tools, simplify the process, making it easier to implement these redirects and safeguard your SEO investment.

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