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:

  • Stopping a product line? 301 redirect it!
  • Changing a category page location?  301 redirect it!
  • Found two competing pages on the site?  Axe the lower performer and 301 redirect it!
  • Migrating your store to Volusion?  301 redirect it all!

 

Happy selling!
-Alison Garrison, Volusion

About 

Alison Garrison is Volusion’s SEO Group Manager, overseeing a team of passionate SEO and social media experts. Armed with a Liberal Arts degree from Kenyon College and an MBA from SMU, Alison has optimized more sites than she can count. When she isn’t obsessing over search marketing, you can find her with Hilly Bean, Olive & Lamar (her dog and two cats), reading SciFi or exploring the beautiful city of Austin with her husband.

25 Responses to “How to Understand and Use Volusion 301 Redirects”

  1. Mac

    My website is moving to Default.asp as well as it is showing URL without Default.asp. I have tried but still unable to remove Default.asp. please expedite as I m really upset. It is hurting my SEO

    Reply
  2. usdbiz.ga

    That is a great tip especially to those fresh to the blogosphere.
    Short but very precise information… Many thanks for sharing this one.
    A must read post!

    Reply
  3. Hildegard

    Great post.

    Reply
  4. Jim

    Can’t believe this isn’t an issue for more people . . . I’m moving from a host with dynamic product pages. Apparently, I can’t setup 301 redirects for any of my products. Can this be right? This is a huge problem and one that many other customers must have faced. Any thoughts?

    (Incidentally, I did find a bit on one of the Volusion help pages that says there is a workaround for this, but it did not go on to explain what the workaround was! Help.)

    Reply
    • Matt Winn

      Hi Jim, thanks so much for the feedback. Unfortunately it looks like we don’t currently have dynamic 301 redirects within our software, although I’ve alerted our Product team of your feedback for their future consideration. Apologies for not being able to help you in the more immediate term on this one. Thanks!

      Reply
  5. Lee

    How long until it goes live after the redirect?

    Reply
  6. Joshua

    Hi, having troubles with this, we have an excel spreadsheet with all of our old links and new links in two columns…wondering how we go about turning this data into a .xml file for uploading to the volusion redirect manager?

    Reply
    • Gracelyn Tan

      Hi, Joshua. I think our Support team will be able to give you the answer. You can contact them from this page or give them a call. Thanks for reading!

      Reply
  7. Brad

    Now what about setting static URLs for Articles (not just products)? Do you have to 301 redirect all of those?

    Reply
    • Gracelyn Tan

      Hi, Brad. You would only need to redirect articles that you delete completely. If you’re just changing the URL, the software will automatically generate the required 301 Redirects. Thanks for reading!

      Reply
  8. Brandon

    Hi,
    What is the best way to achieve “geotargeting” for website redirects? I would like my website to redirect to an additional domain for a specific country. It sounds like 301 redirects will cause me to lose my search rankings for my main page. Would you recommend ccTLDs for the alternate domain or is there another option?

    Regards,
    Brandon

    Reply
    • Alison Garrison

      Hello Brandon. This is a great question and is relevant for many stores taking their businesses international. We asked our resident international SEO expert and he gave the following advice:

      “It sounds like he’s looking for an international SEO strategy and I don’t think using 301 redirects for geotargeting is the proper route. I would recommend using international domains in the form of global TLDs or country code TLDs. In most cases, I’ve tended to favor gTLDs with language or region subdirectories vs. separate ccTLDs for several reasons:

      Dev Resource – Easier to maintain one site vs multiple sites
      Tracking – Analytics, etc is easier to log into one account, have data in one place, also able to segment URLs into categories via directory structure
      Authority Aggregation – There is some inherent value to pointing all 3rd party links to one TLD, even if those links come from multiple countries / languages
      Local signals – There are multiple ways to help search engines (and users) identify local intent, including IP hosting, etc. One way to do that is by indicating which subdirectory is intended for which country/language pair, via Google Webmaster Tools

      All of this really depends on his goals for his business. A really great international SEO resource is http://www.seerinteractive.com/blog/international-seo-strategy-guide

      We hope this is helpful!

      Reply
  9. Danny

    I wish there was an easy way to manage over 500, the XML upload is confusing and I can’t find any clear content in the knowledge base.

    Reply
    • Gracelyn Tan

      Hi, Danny. I believe Support will be able to help you out with that. Feel free to reach out to them for more information. Thanks for reading!

      Reply
  10. Gemma

    Hi
    Could you clarify something for me. If you have website.com and website.com/home and both have the same content so you 301 redirect them when you enter or click on website.com/home should it just delete the home and just state website.com/ in the URL bar?

    Hope I have explained this OK.

    Kind Regards
    Gemma

    Reply
    • Gracelyn Tan

      Hi Gemma,

      Here’s what Alison had to say:

      “In this inquiry, I believe you’re asking about the default.asp page (Gemma – please correct me if I am wrong here.) If that is the case, just make sure that “Enable Canonical Links (recommended)” is checked. I see this box is not currently checked on your site, so please check that box ASAP. Enabling the primary canonical will resolve any potential link dilution issues from alternative URLs – such as default.asp – for the home page. This feature also triggers canonicals for all the category and product pages, which is a huge value when it comes to SEO.”

      Hope that helped! If you have further questions, let us know and we’ll pass them on to Alison for you.
      -Gracelyn

      Reply
  11. jacob

    I have “Enable full URL for Home Page Canonical Link (include /default.asp)” unchecked. Do I leave the Target Path BLANK to send to home page?

    Reply
    • Gracelyn Tan

      Hi Jacob,

      Here’s what Alison had to say:
      “I like that “Enable full URL for Home Page Canonical Link (include /default.asp)” is unchecked. That’s what I prefer. If you’re asking whether or not you need to do any further redirects to help your home page SEO, then the answer is no. As long as “Enable Canonical Links (recommended)” is checked, you’re all set! And I see it is checked on your site, so you’re good to go.”

      Feel free to reach back out if you have any further questions!
      -Gracelyn

      Reply
  12. Nonnie

    I’m about to do some site updates.

    What do you do about a deleted product that’s been redirected to a category with a 301…if you then change/redirect the category?

    I’m assuming you can’t redirect a redirect?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Emily Teachout

      Hi Nonnie,

      Here’s what Alison, our SEO Manager, had to say:
      “Our tool can, in fact, redirect a redirect. I checked in with tech support, who tested it on a test site, and it worked.”

      Hope that helps!
      – Emily

      Reply
  13. James

    It would be nice if we could redirect /default.asp.

    Reply
    • Nathan Joynt

      Hi James, thanks for the comment. This is a common request from Volusion merchants and the main reason why we allow you to select the canonical version of your home page and communicate to the search engines that the other version is duplicate content. To make sure the SE’s understand that the /default.asp version is duplicate and not the preferred URL to display you have to keep the box next to – Enable full URL for Home Page Canonical Link (include /default.asp) unchecked. This option is found in the Search Engine Friendly URLs drop-down under Home>Marketing>SEO. Yours is currently checked and I recommend you uncheck it. To learn more about canonical URLs and how Google treats them, please read this. Here is more Volusion support documentation to help explain as well. Hope this helps.

      Reply
      • Michael

        Nathan,
        I have been trying to solve this issue for a while, so could you provide some clarification for me: My reading of that Volusion article titled “/default.asp and in store URL” (third paragraph) says:

        “Under the Search Engine Friendly URLs section of your Marketing > SEO page, there is a setting Enable full URL for Home Page Canonical Link (include /default.asp). This checkbox will enable the canonical link for your homepage to allow Google to merge the ranks of your otherwise “duplicate” content.” —

        seems to go against what you are saying when you write:
        “To make sure the SE’s understand that the /default.asp version is duplicate and not the preferred URL to display you have to keep the box next to – Enable full URL for Home Page Canonical Link (include /default.asp) unchecked.” (correct me please if I’m misreading this).
        Particularly, if leaving that box unchecked and no 301 redirect is needed. My canonical link goes to /default.asp — and I have the box checked, but would prefer store.com as the canonical page.

        Reply
        • Nathan Joynt

          Hi Michael, sorry for any accidental confusion. Basically, if you prefer http://www.isleofskyecashmere.com to be the ranking URL in Google, leave that box unchecked. Doing so will add the rel=canonical link into the source of /defualt.asp to point to /. This effectually tells Google (and other SE’s) that /default.asp is duplicate to / and not the preferred landing page to rank in search results. In this case it’s also a good idea to update all of your internal links to your homepage with / rather than /default.asp. Most common place to start is the logo.

          If you want /default.asp to be the preferred ranking URL than keep that box checked. Doing this will flip the aforementioned order so that the rel=canonical link in the source of / will point to /default.asp.

          Reply

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