Be Wise About Your 301 Redirects and 404 Error Pages

blog networks and using 301 redirects

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles @ / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I have been reading about 301 redirects quite a bit lately as well as 404 errors.  I was doing this because I was having a bunch of 404’s showing up in my webmaster tools account and I wanted to basically eliminate them once and for all.

I used to setup a permanent redirect for all 404 errors to the home pages of my sites, this even included my blog network sites.  From my readings I learned this is not good anymore, or maybe it never was.

The Way I Implement My 301 Redirects For My Sites Has Changed

What I used to believe was if I redirected my 404’s that this would pass the page rank to my homepage, yes it was not the full page rank as it was diluted by Google but it sure lessoned my work load. Also from watching the page rank of my domains on my networks it seemed to work.  This is not so possible to watch for anymore though as Google is infrequently updating the page rank toolbar stats.

So now what if I can not redirect with a simple script on my 404 pages.

Well two things I changed.  The changes I am making now are dependant on whether my site is a money site or a blog network site.

Lets Get Started With My Money Sites

First off, for my money sites most are developed on the WordPress framework utilizing different themes but in general they are really all the same. For each money site that is built on WordPress I implemented a redirect that goes to a search page.  Now this is not just the search page but it is a search page that best matches the terms the user was looking for and shows them all the results. This simple change has almost completely eliminated all my 404 errors for zwinks.org in my webmaster tools.  You can see it in action by clicking this link – http://zwinks.org/senuke.  I have no urls with senuke like this so you are going to be taken to a search page for senuke that shows every result that best matches that query. Pretty cool I would say.

I have one more step to implement into zwinks.org and my other money sites and that is to add the most read posts as a list to the results page also.  This will show up if the query for the search has no results. This I think will have benefits for bounce rates as well.  To date the bounce rate on zwinks.org is hovering around 23% most months but if I could lower that by another 5% or more that should result in better rankings along with providing a better user experience.

Moving On To The Blog Network Sites

blog network frequently asked questions

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles @ / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The second change I am making is for my blog network sites, basically the newer ones now, as the ones I have had for years are keeping their page ranks quite well.  That is probably because of all the link building I have done to them over the years, and treating them all well by posting good content onto them all.  This way they get natural links as well as shares plus any linking that I do too.  So remember everyone to treat your blog networks well, and build links to them if you want them to get stronger and help you rank better over time.

So what is the change I am implementing on the newer and new blog network sites.  Install a redirection plugin that captures the urls that people are still finding the site by.  Once they show up in the plugin all you need to do is to either recreate the page of the url or you can create a permanent 301 redirect for that url to another relevant page on the blog and capture most of that link juice coming in and not loose it.  It is a pretty simple step installing a plugin for awhile, but it does take some extra effort on our part to make sure to check these plugins on each site regularly.  Like at least once a week on a new blog network site.

Protect Your Investments

From what I have been reading about just doing a 301 redirect for all 404’s to the homepage of your domains, is that this method is going to stop working in the near future if it hasn’t already.  Google has said they know about this being a common practice for those who are building blog networks.  So once again we have to maintain our steps ahead of Google on this and be diligent in setting up our blog networks properly to maintain all that page rank, link juice etc that we paid all of our hard earned bucks on.

Watch Matt Cutts To Learn About Google’s View of 301 Redirects and Passing Link Juice

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Author: Dwight

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