How to Understand and Use Volusion 301 Redirects

Curious how to boost your Volusion store’s SEO with 301 redirects? You’ve come to the right place. Check out this article for a crash course on our easy, yet effective, 301 redirect tool.

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For many online store owners, the mere mention of a 301 Redirect elicits confusion and anxiety.  I can sympathize!  After all, you have a business to run, and let’s face it – the technical details behind running a website can be mystifying.

Here’s the good news. The Volusion platform makes 301 redirects ridiculously easy. No coding or server access required! You can execute hundreds of redirects in a matter of minutes.

 

What is a 301 Redirect?

A 301 Redirect is a permanent redirect.  It tells search engines that a page has permanently moved.  Since the move is permanent, search engines know to transfer the SEO mojo for the old page to the new one.  If you skip the 301 redirect, you risk throwing away all your hard work and online visibility. In other words, if you don’t redirect old pages, you’re ultimately saying “sayonara” to that page’s ranking, its back link profile and any bookmarks to that page.  In short, skipping the 301 redirect is catastrophic to that page’s SEO.

 

Why should I use 301 redirects?

In today’s competitive online marketplace, failing to implement 301 redirects greatly hinders your SEO success.  Just ask Matt Cutts, Head of Webspam at Google, or Duane Forrester, a Senior Product Manager at Bing.  They emphatically agree that 301 redirects are a must for preserving SEO traction.  Duane even suggests shooting your IT team if they refuse to do your 301 redirects! A bit extreme, perhaps, but you get the point.

In sum, search engines demand that you use 301 redirects. And, more importantly, 301 redirects greatly enhance the user experience for shoppers navigating your site, as you want to help your old visitors get to the right place after a page is deleted.

 

When should I use Volusion’s 301 Redirect tool?

There are three common scenarios when you should implement 301 redirects with your Volusion store:

  1. When you change page URLs or URL naming conventions (a common occurrence with a site migration).  URL structure change is a common outcome when migrating from one ecommerce platform to another. If you migrate your store, you should permanently redirect your old page URLs to their new locations. This will preserve each page’s established SEO and online visibility.  If you fail to do this, you can expect to experience a painful decline in your organic search engine traffic.
  2. When you remove a page from your site. This is a common occurrence for ecommerce sites as inventory inevitably changes from time to time. When you remove a product line from your inventory, you should permanently redirect that page to the most logical destination.For example, if you discontinued the product Women’s Flared Button Fly Jeans, you’d want to redirect that old URL to a higher level category page, such as Women’s Denim or another similar product. If you don’t redirect the product URL, that page will return an ugly 404 error.  Too many 404 Errors and search engines will perceive your site as lower quality, which hurts your overall SEO performance.
  3. You’ve discovered two competing internal pages.  It’s not uncommon for you to discover that you’ve set up two separate pages for the same category or subcategory. For example, you might have accidentally set up two categories for Women’s Denim – both of which carry the same inventory, but have two distinct URLs.  Rather than linking both navigations to a common Women’s Denim URL, perhaps one is linked through the top navigation to one URL and the other through the left hand menu to a different URL. This essentially means you have two separate pages competing with each other for visibility in the search results, which you don’t want. (Trust me, the marketplace is competitive enough!)If you discover two competing pages, use analytics to determine which page is the top performer of the two (i.e. attracts the most organic traffic).  Delete the lesser page and 301 redirect that page to the top performer.  This will consolidate their SEO mojo and eliminate internal page competition.

 

How do I set up a 301 redirect in my Volusion store?

In your Volusion admin, simply click Settings > Maintenance > Manage 301 Redirects.

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Once you’re in the 301 Redirect tool, enter the old URL tail (do not include your primary domain name) under Source Path, and the new URL tail under the Target Path. Click save, and voilà! Your 301 redirect is implemented.

See, I told you it was easy – just make sure to only enter the tails of the URLs as shown below!

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Please note: The page under the Source Path must be non-existent for the Volusion 301 Redirect tool to work.  This means deleting that old page completely.  You cannot 301 redirect an existing page with the Volusion tool.

If you’re migrating to the Volusion platform from another provider, you’ll likely want to do a bulk import, as it’ll be much faster than entering all your redirects by hand. Start with a comprehensive list of your site’s landing page URLs, which can be obtained through Google Analytics.

  1. Set the date range to a time period when the old URLs were active.  This could even be the present if you haven’t yet migrated to Volusion.
  2. In the left-hand navigation, click Content > Site Content > All Pages
  3. Under “Pages,” click “Export” and Export to a CSV file
  4. The CSV file will show you all the URL tails for top pages people visited during the time period you selected. (Use these as the “Source Path” tails and then set up the logical, new “Target Path” tail according to your new Volusion URL structure.)

You can even have all your redirects set up before you migrate over, so that when you make the move to Volusion, the 301 redirects snap into place immediately and your store never misses a beat.

For more details, check out our Knowledge Base article on creating 301 redirects in a Volusion store. And, of course our, Tech Support team is always there to help you along the way.

 

Now you’re a 301 redirect pro!

Now you know that whenever you need to communicate to search engines that a permanent URL change has taken place, you can say with confidence “301 redirect it!”

So to sum things up:

 

Happy selling!
-Alison Garrison, Volusion

Alison Garrison

Alison Garrison is Volusion's director of services, overseeing a team of passionate marketing and design experts. She's an avid animal lover and enjoys exploring beautiful Austin with her husband.