301 Redirects are a powerful tool websites employ to keep their pages relevant, avoid duplicate content issues, and spread around SEO “link juice” to keep pages performing well on search engines.
Most Shopify stores are either not utilizing redirects, or are using them improperly.
In this post we’ll go over all the times you’ll want to use a 301 redirect for your Shopify eCommerce store.
Times you want to use redirects:
301 Redirects keep your site relevant in the eyes of search engines and have the potential to give your visitors and customers a better experience when browsing your store.
Here are some situations where you’d want to use a 301 redirect.
You’re launching a new version of an existing product.
If you have a popular product that is being phased out and will no longer be in stock, a 301 redirect is a good way to get all the built-up credibility for the old product transferred to the new one.
You have some dynamic URLs on your site that are redundant
Sometimes you can have pages on your site that are the same as an existing page, but you only want one to exist.
In some cases, such as filtering products down by attributes, you’ll want to utilize the rel=”canonical” tag, which tells what the “main” version of a page should be.
But in some cases, you have identical or near-identical pages that should point to a single URL on your site. In these cases you use a 301 redirect. Point all duplicate pages to the one main page.
A link exists pointing to a page on your site leading to a 404 error
A 404 error typically happens when a link (from your site or anywhere on the internet) is pointing to a page on your site that doesn’t exist.
One common reason for 404 errors is a simple typo on the URL when the link was written.
If it’s on your own site, it’s a simple fix, but if it’s coming from some place other than your site, you can’t easily fix the link because you don’t have access to other people’s sites.
The fix here is a 301 redirect.
For example, if your site was generating a 404 error for the link www.exampleshoestore.com/gren-shoe coming from a site somewhere on the internet, but the real link is www.exampleshoestore.com/green-shoe .
Set up a redirect here and you’re good to go.
If you’re looking for a report of 404 pages, a good place to find 404 error pages is through Google Search Console.
Within it you can grab a 404 error report to see all the places on your site Google found a 404 and most can be remedied with a 301 redirect.
When you shouldn’t use a redirect
There are a few instances where you shouldn’t use a redirect, but the only time worth mentioning that you will encounter when running a Shopify store is redirecting a page into an irrelevant page.
When implementing a 301 redirect would confuse the site visitor, that’s the time you should consider not doing it.
For example if you are redirecting from a discontinued product, don’t send the visitor to your home page or to a random product on your site, it has to be very closely related to the page that the searcher originally intended to find.
How to Easily Set Up 301 Redirects
The easiest way to get redirects going on Shopify is through apps.
Since Shopify is a platform that has really great apps available, some can perform technical tasks like 301 redirects with ease (and in a few cases, completely free).
Some Apps on Shopify that can set up 301 Redirects
This app allows you to handle 301 redirects and 404 errors with ease, and even offers a bit of recommendations based on some internal calculations the software runs automatically.
Bulk upload 301 redirects and manage 404 error pages to redirect them into the most relevant page to avoid crawled error pages by Google.
Other SEO tools on Shopify App store can have 301 redirects as a part of their total package, so keep in mind if you already use a comprehensive SEO tool, you can check if they have a 301 redirect feature already baked in.
With very little technical knowledge, you should now know how to set up redirects to keep the overall health of your site topped off.
In combination with proper Shopify SEO, you will have a site that operates flawlessly that users and search engines easily understand and will never get lost operating.