WordPress 301 Redirect: Everything You Need to Know

At some point or another, you’re going to need to set up a WordPress 301 redirect.

Maybe you’ve deleted some old content that no longer exists, or you’re looking to change the structure of URLs in order to be more SEO friendly.

The general idea behind a redirect is to re-route a user from an old URL over to a new URL without any issues in between.

Implementing 301 redirects on WordPress website will ensure that you are providing a great user experience and that you’re looking after the SEO health of your WordPress site.

Let’s jump into the details on 301 redirects in WordPress, and everything you need to know to set one up yourself.

What is a 301 redirect in WordPress?

A 301 redirect, or a permanent redirect, is an HTTP status code for permanently moving a web page to a different URL on the website.

When a user types the old URL into their browser or clicks on a link with the old URL, your website will direct them over to the new URL which you have specified.

Additionally, a 301 redirect tells Google that a page has permanently moved and that Google should consider the new URL in the same way as it did the old URL.

A WordPress redirect is essentially a way for a website to tell a web browser that the page that it’s attempting to reach has been moved, so the browser should visit another URL.

It’s really that simple.

Just for your reference, normally you’ll see links or URLs called as permalinks in WordPress. This is WordPress’ naming scheme for what is usually called a URL or a link.

It’s important to understand how to use 301 redirects in WordPress, and when to user them because they:

  • Pass link equity if you change a URL’s page or merge the content of pages.
  • Take users to a working page, rather than a 404 error page.
  • Tell Google that a page has permanently moved.

301 Redirect vs 302 Redirect

There are different types of redirects that exist, including 301, 302, 303, 307 and 308.

301 and 302 redirects are the most commonly used, and the two that you should know about:

  • 301 redirect – A 301 redirect in WordPress is a permanent redirect. This redirect permanently points both site visitors and Google bots to the new page.
  • 302 redirect – A 302 redirect is a temporary redirect. It redirects users to the new page, but not Google bots. That means no link equity is passed to the new URL.

For most intensive purposes, you’ll most likely only be using the 301 redirect as your main method of directing traffic from old to new URLs.

This method is going to preserve your SEO efforts as much as possible.


Why are 301 redirects important?

301 redirects are important for a few reasons.

First of all, they help to maintain a great user experience.

If a page has moved, or no longer exists, you don’t want users visiting this page and receiving a 404 error. Not only is this bad for the user’s experience, but this also is going to directly have an impact on the SEO health of your website.

Additional to that, 301 redirects will help to pass the link equity that you’ve worked hard to build up when a page has moved or no longer exists.

An example of this would be that you completely changed the URL structure of an old post and created a new post that is more search-friendly. That post is already ranking in Google, and you want to ensure that it remains accessible to users who are clicking on the search results. You’ll want to tell both Google and users the new URL of the new post using a 301 direct.

If you’ve moved a URL to a new location, you’re going to want to tell both Google and your users that. Google will then pass any of that link equity from the old page, over to the new page, so it can continue to rank highly in the search engine results pages.


How do I set up a 301 Redirect in WordPress?

There are multiple use cases in WordPress for using a 301 redirect, and we’re going to cover the three most common:

  • Redirecting a single page to another page
  • Redirecting an entire subpath to a specific page
  • Moving to a completely new URL structure

If you’re looking to complete a website migration (going from an old site to a new site,) 301 redirects are going to be extremely important – you’ll want to check out the following in-depth website migration guide to ensure a smooth transition.

Luckily, if you’re only going from an old domain to a new domain, that process is much easier. You can simply add a redirect within your hosting tool to push users over to the new domain once it’s all set up.

Additionally, you can edit your web server configuration file, .htaccess which we will cover below.


How to Setup a WordPress Redirect From One Page to Another Page (The Simple Way)

Redirecting WordPress pages is made simple with the use of a handy WordPress plugin called “Redirection” which you can install following these easy steps.

Note: There are other plugins out there on the market such as simple 301 redirects, Yoast SEO (premium) and redirect manager, but for the purpose of this exercise we’re going to be using our favorite tool, which is the most simple to set up.

  1. Navigate to your WordPress admin area, typically found at /wp-admin/
  2. From the left-hand menu, click on “Plugins” → “Add new”

3. From the top-right hand search bar, type in “Redirection”

4. Click on “Install Now” (you’ll see my button shows as “Active” as it’s already installed in this case)

5. Click on the “Activate” button to enable the redirect plugin.

6. Go to “Tools” in the left hand side menu of your WordPress Admin panel.

7. Click on “Redirection” and then click on “Add New:”

8. Enter your “Source URL”

  • The source URL is the URL of the page where you want to implement your redirect.
  • For this example, I’ll be using /old-page/ as the one I want to redirect

9. Over on the right-hand side, click on the selection box that says “URL Options / Regex” and select “Regex” from the menu:

Side Note: Regex, also known as a regular expression will append itself to the end of your source URL to ensure that your users are redirected even if they are coming from a link that contains a UTM parameter.

10. At the end of your Source URL, you’ll want to add the following expression:

(?!\/.*\/)((\/?)$|.*.*=.*)

Important: If your URL ends with a trailing slash as such: /old-page/ you’re going to want to remove the trailing slash, and then add the expression to the end of the URL as such:

11. Enter the “Target URL”, which is the new URL to where you want to re-direct the old page. In this case, we will be redirecting to /new-page/ as shown below:

The remaining settings you can change accordingly, but the default settings will provide what you need to get the job done.

The last step is to verify that your redirect is working.

Visit your Source URL, hit the refresh button and check that it’s redirecting to the new Target URL.

If you have a WordPress plugin installed to cache your pages, you’ll most likely need to dump your cache before the redirect works.


How to Setup a WordPress Redirect From One Page to Another Page (The Advanced Method)

If you’re already familiar with what an htaccess file is and feel comfortable going this route, this would be the “more advanced” method to set up 301 redirects.

This method also is the best way to approach an entire website migration.

If you’re running on cpanel, you can also directly modify the htaccess file without having to utilize an FTP manager such as Filezilla.

You can also use your .htaccess file to set up page redirects, but in all honesty, it’s not as convenient as the redirection plugin method.

Getting started, you’ll need to connect to your site’s web server to access and edit the .htaccess file either using an FTP client or through the provided login area from your hosting provider.

FileZilla is a great option for easily connecting over FTP to your web sever.

  1. To get started, you’ll need to connect to your site’s server to edit your .htaccess file. You’ll find the htaccess file in the home directory of your FTP:

Important Note: Always make a copy of your htaccess file before making any edits. Simply download a copy, and save it in a safe place.

2. Open up the htaccess file with notepad and you’re going to want to enter the following code which states which redirect rules you want to put in place:

RewriteEngine On
Redirect 301 /old-page/ http://www.example.com/new-page/

Simply replace the example URLs above with your own.

3. Save your htaccess file, and test your redirect by visiting the old URL. If successful, the link should not be redirecting you over to the new page.


How to Redirect an Old Domain to a New Domain Name in WordPress

Re-directing an old domain to a new domain is also quite an easy feat.

Using your hosting platform, you can typically set up a re-direct directly within the hosting control panel itself.

The best case to find documentation on how to set that up, depending on your host, would be to run a quick search for “redirecting from an old domain to a new domain host name”.

Additionally, you can also edit your htaccess file in order to set up a re-direct:

RewriteEngine onRewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^oldomain.com 
[NC,OR]RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^www.olddomain.com 
[NC]RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://newdomain.com/$1 [L,R=301,NC]

If you’re unsure how to edit the htaccess file, check the previous step on getting access via FTP and making those edits.

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