301 Redirects and Search Engine Optimization
When you are upgrading your website it means either you are removing or renaming particular pages and files. When you do search engine optimization your site ranks well in and pages are properly indexed in search engines. By removing and renaming these files there is a risk of loosing traffic who are following the links from search engines and getting “Error 404 – File not found”.
To avoid or reduce this error you can make your custom error page or use META REFRESH techniques. But they do have some disadvantages. If you will create custom error page you can lose your ranking as the file will appear to be non-existent. The second technique is also not useful because Meta Fresh tags are used by spammers to trick search engines.
Therefore we use 301 Redirect techniques. It is most efficient and visitor/spider friendly technique in internet world. It is also easy to implement and preserve the ranking of your website. 301 Redirects is the most efficient and safest technique to move your pages and rename your files.
The 301 redirect technique is implemented in your .htaccess file. The .htaccess file contains specific instructions for certain requests, including security, redirection issues and handling certain errors. When visitor and spider request your web page then the web server checks the .htaccess file.
As the code “404” means “File not found” the code for “301” means “moved permanently”
The 301 redirect is the safest way to preserve your rankings. The spiders doesn’t read the .htaccess file but recognize the response from the server.
In the next update, the old file name and path is dropped and replaced with the new one. Sometimes it may appear in browser transition period. Search engines follow their own rules and can change their rules at any time. You have to give time to search engines to catch the changes you have done. Also don’t forget to notify your link partners about the changes.