When and How to Use SEO 301 Redirects

When clients migrate to Zoey from another platform, one of the first questions they ask is, “How will my SEO and search rankings be affected?” It’s a great question. Smart merchants know the importance of SEO in eCommerce, and we don’t want you to lose the rankings you’ve worked so hard for, so we’re putting together a two part series on SEO and platform migration.

After reading this post, you’ll know:

  • What a 301 redirect is and how it will help you maintain search rankings
  • When using  301 redirects is appropriate
  • How to create 301 redirects in Zoey
What are Redirects?

In internet speak, a redirect is basically the process by which one URL is forwarded to another.

For the purposes of this article, we’ll take a look at 301 redirects in particular as they are the most popular type of redirect and the role they play in maintaining search rankings when migrating platforms and changing domains.

What is a 301 Redirect?

A redirect that automatically takes a visitor from a page you don’t want them to see to one you do.

A 301 redirect should be created when content that used to live at one URL now permanently lives at another.  You can think of it this way: a redirect is to a website as a change of address form is to moving to a new apartment (except you don’t have to deal with the post office! #win!)

Redirects help ensure not only that your customers find the correct content at the correct URL after a move, but also that search engines are able to find and index your pages properly.  For eCommerce stores, this is absolutely crucial for maintaining business continuity.

That last sentence is important so I’m going to reiterate:

For eCommerce stores, 301 redirects are absolutely crucial to maintaining business continuity and search rankings after changing domains or moving to a new platform.

Without creating proper redirects, you can potentially see your traffic drop to zero overnight.  Don’t let this happen to you!

When Should I use a 301 Redirect?

If you’re moving to a new domain or moving to a new platform.

Moving to a new domain? Out with the old, in with the new!  You’ve decided you want to move your website to a shiny new domain.  Seems pretty straight forward, right?  You’ll just need to edit some DNS settings and flip the switch.

While the actual domain update process *is* that simple, without planning to create a 301 redirect between your old domain and your new domain, any backlinks, bookmarks, and page rankings associated with your old domain will be lost.   Be sure to create the 301 redirects before flipping your DNS to avoid this and you’ll be able to rest easy knowing your SEO will remain intact.

Moving to a new platform? This is a big one that is often overlooked by store owners.  Even if you are keeping your domain, you will still need to create 301 redirects between old URLs and new URLs to maintain your SEO when moving to a new platform. It is essential that you take the time to create page-to-page redirects from your old platform to your new platform.

Again, failure to do this will result in the loss of any bookmarks, backlinks, and page rankings associated with your old platform. Customers will be disgruntled. Google won’t know where to find you.  You’ll watch your life flash before your eyes.

Without creating these redirects, you could potentially see your store’s revenue drop to zero in the blink of an eye!  You don’t have to (and should not!) start from scratch when migrating platforms.  With a little planning, your platform migration can be just about seamless.

Do either of the above scenarios apply to you?  Don’t be alarmed!  Creating 301 redirects with Zoey is easy as pie. Just check out our tutorial: Creating URL Rewrites with Zoey.

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