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How to Properly Implement a 301 Redirect

What is a 301 redirect?

A 301 redirect is a command used to tell the search engines that a page has permanently moved, and that you want them to index the new page and drop the old one from their index.

Think of it as a change of address card for the web. As long as everything is done correctly, a 301 redirect will ensure that you keep the rankings earned by the old page and prevent duplicate content that could arise if the engines were to index both versions of your site.

How to Implement 301 Redirects Using .htaccess for Apache

Make sure you have access to your server and your Apache configuration file, and that you can use your .htaccess files. The ability to use .htaccess files will reside in a command called “Allow Override” in the Apache config file. If you do not have this access, you’ll have to first call your hosting company and get access.

Once you know that you have access to this file, your next step is to locate it. The .htaccess file is a control file that allows server configuration changes on a per-directory basis. It controls that directory and all of the subdirectories contained within. In most cases, this file will be placed in the root web folder for your site. If there’s no .htaccess file present, create one.

To begin using the .htaccess file to redirect page(s) on your site, open up your FTP and log in to your site. Work your way into in the root web folder in order to access your .htaccess file.

(Note: The dot in .htaccess makes it a hidden file, so make sure your FTP browser is enabled to view hidden files.)

When you start editing the file, use a UNIX style text editor rather than Notepad. Typically, an HTML editor or code editor such as TextPad works just fine. To 301 redirect pages using the .htaccess file, you will add a line to the file that tells the server what to do.

To 301 Redirect a Page:

RedirectPermanent /old-file.html http://www.domain.com/new-file.html

To 301 Redirect an Entire Domain:

RedirectPermanent / http://www.new-domain.com/

Once you have inserted the commands to 301 redirect your pages, you need to make sure that there is a blank line at the end of the file. Your server will read the .htaccess file line by line, which means at some point you’ll need to throw it an “endline” character to signify that you’re finished. An easy way to do this is to put a blank line at the bottom of the file.

How to Do a 301 Redirect Using IIS on a Microsoft Windows Server

Navigate your way to Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager, which is found with Administrative Tools within the Start menu. From there, you will find a panel on the left-hand side that lists all your sites. Choose the site you want to work on.

Once you select it, several modules come up. Verify the URL Rewrite module is present. If it is not, you can install it here.

Once you have it, double-click to open the module. On the right-hand side, you will see an option to Add Rules. Click it and then select Blank Rule under the Inbound Rules section. Hit OK. This will take you to an Edit Inbound Rule page. Type a name for the rule, such as Old Domain Redirect or Old Page Redirect.

Go to the Match URL Panel. Set the requested URL at “Matches the Pattern” and then Using as Regular Expressions. Now you will specify if you’re redirecting a single page, a group of pages, or an entire domain:

  • To redirect a single page, type in the page name under Pattern. For example, if we were redirecting this blog post, we would input blog/how-to-properly-implement-a-301-redirect/ in the Pattern field.
  • To redirect the entire site, we would input (.*) in the Pattern field.
  • To redirect all the pages on BruceClay.com within the SEO folder, we would input seo/(.*)

Make sure “ignore case” is checked.

Skip down to the action panel and select Redirect within the Action Type drop-down menu. In the Action Properties, type in the new URL. If it’s a single page, input the single page. If it’s the entire domain or a group of pages, type the new destination with a back reference, which is {R:0}. The back reference will keep all page URLs intact with the new domain.

For example, if we were changing BruceClay.com to BCI.com, we would input http://www.bci.com/{R:0}

If you use tracking parameters and you want them to carry through, check Append Query String.

In the Redirect type field, select Permanent (301).

Click Apply at the top right in the Actions column to save the redirect.

(If you want to review the redirect, hit back to rules in the Actions column.)

After you save this redirect, the rules you created are saved into the web.config file, which you can edit in the future.

Alternative Methods to Implement a 301 Redirect

If you don’t have access to your .htaccess file or your Windows Server Administration Panel, you can still implement 301 redirects with code on your old pages. If your pages are in PHP, ASP, Java, or any other language that allows you to modify response headers, simply place code at the top of each page to do the permanent redirect.

Why You Might Need to Implement a 301 Redirect

There are many times a 301 redirect makes sense. Here are a few of the most common:

  • You’re changing your entire root domain.
  • You want to reorganize pages by changing or removing a directory.
  • Let’s say CNN posted a link to this blog post, but the URL was incorrect. We’d still want to capture the traffic that is going to a 404 page. So we’d put in a 301 redirect to direct users from the bad link to the right URL.
  • You want a vanity URL.

Top 5 Social Media Trends for Businesses in 2017

RIP Vine. It seems like just a few short years ago that the network–and its catchy 6-second video format–debuted and companies raced to figure out how to cash in.

Then this October, we learned the app would be officially shut down by Twitter. Even before then, attention had already shifted to newer, more flexible video formats like the new giant on the block, Facebook Live.

This constant social media turnover is all-too-familiar and, oftentimes, all-too-costly. Companies invest in new tools and strategies, develop marketing plans and race to bring employees up to speed… only to see the proverbial rug pulled out overnight.

So what’s the secret to future-proofing your social strategy? Look beyond the latest bells and whistles and turn an eye to the macro-trends driving the industry.

Here are five big movements that promise to change how businesses use social media in 2017:
1. The “reachpocalypse” peaks

Reaching users the old-fashioned way on social media–i.e. building up an audience overtime and sharing updates–simply no longer cuts it.

Algorithms are increasingly limiting the percentage of your own audience that sees your posts. This isn’t some grand conspiracy: It reflects the reality that our feeds are more cluttered than ever with messages, photos and videos. Not everything makes it through.

How can businesses cut through the clutter? Unsurprisingly, money talks.

All the networks have evolved their own native ads–promoted posts and updates that look just like the real thing. In 2017, it’s time to start using them.

Once the “sticker-shock” wears off, these ads are actually a smart investment. They can be highly targeted, are shareable and it’s easy to track the return on your purchase in terms of views and clicks.
2. Employees become your social media army

For companies looking to expand the reach and impact of social media without spending a dime, there’s an increasingly powerful option… that’s already on your payroll.

Employee advocacy–encouraging and incentivizing team members to share brand messages on their own social media accounts–is poised to be a game-changer in 2017.

Even at moderately-sized companies, you can tap into hundreds, if not thousands, of new followers. Messages fired out from personal accounts are more trusted and also circumvent some of those pesky algorithms mentioned above.

I saw this, for example, in a case study my company did on sports entertainment chain Topgolf. Topgolf enlisted 300 of its associates to start sharing updates and saw Likes increase by 220 percent during the initiative’s launch last year.

There’s a right and wrong way to do this. Advocacy can’t be forced.

Employees need to want to share company posts, and the content has to align with their own audiences. There’s little point in staff blasting out B2B pitches on their personal Facebook profiles, for example.

The process of sharing also has to be dead simple. Some new tools (my company, Hootsuite, offers one) let employers push out updates to employees for re-sharing via mobile app.
3. The social media skills gap widens

More companies than ever are using social channels for marketing, customer service and sales: around 90 percent, according to the latest data from eMarketer.

But a curious thing has happened: Training and resources for frontline employees has been largely ignored. Research from management consulting firm Capgemini Consulting says nine out of ten companies report their workers don’t have the requisite skills to leverage social media as a business tool.

This manifests itself in everything from missed opportunities for sales leads on Twitter to embarrassing corporate gaffes on Facebook. It’ll only get worse in 2017, as employees will be expected to use ever more channels in more diverse and sophisticated ways.

Some hope is on the horizon. Social media coursework is slowly being incorporated into university programs, and not just for students pursuing marketing and communications degrees. For businesses seeking a quicker fix, online, on-demand resources can help fill the gap.
4. CEOs finally get the hang of social media

It’s a rarity to find someone who’s not on Facebook–unless that someone happens to be a Fortune 500 CEO. A full 61 percent still have no social media presence, according to a 2015 report from CEO.com.

But 2016 marked a kind of changing of the tides.

Facebook launched a new “business influencer” program, attracting the likes of Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman and T-Mobile CEO John Legere to its ranks. LinkedIn’s blogging platform Pulse now showcases more than 500 elite business authorities, from Bill Gates to Arianna Huffington.

It’s no longer an option but a business necessity. Globally, more than two billion people are now on social channels; the average user spends nearly two hours a day plugged in.

In 2017, expect to see more executives take the plunge into legacy channels like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter–as well as fresher platforms, like Instagram or Snapchat.
5. Sales and customer service get more social

Lots of businesses still think of social media as purely a marketing tool. That’s not true anymore.

Consumers learn about products on Pinterest and Instagram. They’re sold to on Facebook and Twitter. They seek customer service on messaging channels like Facebook Messenger.

This trend toward “conversational commerce” only stands to accelerate in 2017 with the rapid deployment of chatbots.

For the uninitiated, a chatbot is a kind of virtual assistant living within Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp or another platform. These AI-powered bots guide customers through an array of simple (and not-so-simple) tasks in natural, conversational formats–from ordering a pizza to booking flights or even managing finances.

The rise of chatbots promises a way to quickly scale social selling and customer service efforts, offering users the equivalent of 1:1 service without necessarily requiring additional employees.

The one constant that businesses can depend on is that social media itself isn’t going anywhere. It’s increasingly the one reliable place to reach consumers.

The tools and channels may shift, but the cultural sea change instigated by Facebook more than a decade ago is here to stay. You don’t need a crystal ball to see that.

Responsive or Bust: Google’s Focus on Mobile & How to Design for It

Google’s always upping the ante.

Google’s always changing the face of the Web and how we interface with it.

And they always keep us on our toes.

On Feb. 26, Google announced a new search algorithm which ranks non mobile-friendly sites lower in the results queue.

Here’s What You Need To Know:

1) As of April 21, there will be more mobile-friendly websites in your search results. Google Webmasters write, “…we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high-quality search results that are optimized for their devices.”

Poll

What is your company’s mobile web strategy?

2) More than ever before, responsive design can boost your search ranking and user satisfaction. According a recent Comscore report: Most digital media consumption growth, over the past four years, occurred on smartphones and tablets; up 394% and 1,721%, respectively. And, 31% of all traffic to the top 10 digital properties were mobile-only visits.

With the recent announcement from Google in mind, here are some tips for UX Designers and Developers alike to improve the responsive experience on your websites.