SEO Glossary: 301 Redirect

In a nutshell: What is a 301 redirect?

A 301 redirect (also known as 301 forwarding) tells a requesting browser or bot that the requested Internet address (URL) is permanently accessible at a new address. For this reason, the status code 301 (Moved Permanently) is also used.


When does it make sense to set up a 301 redirect?

The setup of a 301 redirect is always useful if the URL structure of an Internet project is changed. The same applies when the complete domain name is changed and the project is moved. If a webmaster discovers that content can be accessed via two different URLs, a 301 redirect is also useful to merge them.


  1. If an Internet user enters the desired URL in his browser or a bot wants to access it, he retrieves the corresponding file.
  2. In this case, the Internet browser or bot asks the server to deliver the corresponding file.
  3. If a 301 redirect is active for this file/subpage, the server notices this and gets the info to which new address or file the redirect is made.
  4. Internet browser or bot now receives the status code 301 (Moved Permanently) and is automatically redirected to the new address.



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Search engine bots in particular remember that a web page and the corresponding file are now permanently accessible under a new path. Accordingly, the user will be automatically redirected to the new subpage in the future. At the same time, the new URL is indexed in the search engine.

Is a 301 redirect bad for SEO?

Setting up a 301 redirect is anything but bad. Because it maintains the usability of a website, users do not land on a 404 error pages (content not found).


At the same time, a 301 redirect shows search engine bots that the structure has changed. This makes it easier for Google, Bing and Co. to find out that previously desired content can be accessed without any problems.


Those who do not use a 301 redirect run the risk of having their website completely reset in search engines. Valuable rankings and associated traffic can be lost. In addition, users are annoyed because they receive 404 error pages more and more often and go nowhere.



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How to create a 301 redirect?

The setup of a 301 redirect can be done either by PHP or in the .htaccess file. At the same time, the module "mod_rewrite" is required in the Apache web server.


301 Redirect with PHP

To set up a 301 redirect with PHP, code must be inserted in the respective PHP file to be retrieved:


301 Redirect with .htaccess

To use a 301 redirect using .htaccess, there are several options:


Example: redirects to
RewriteEngine OnRedirect 301 /old-bottom/ /


htaccess Create redirect from non-www to www:


RewriteEngine OnRewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !^$ [NC]RewriteRule ^(.*)$$1 [L,R=301]


htaccess Create redirect from www to non-www:


RewriteEngine OnRewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^$ [NC]RewriteRule ^(.*)$$1 [L,R=301]



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Conclusion: What is a 301 redirect?

If individual subpages move to a new address or a project moves completely to a new domain, a 301 redirect is always useful. This status code, called Move Permanently, shows the Internet browser and bot that the subpage and file are permanently accessible at a new address. This is beneficial for both user-friendliness and search engines.

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