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301 Redirects for Lawyers

Aug 28, 2016

In light of all the recent turbulence in the market, this blog post is about discussing SEO implications of 301 redirects. The implications of redirects have been known for quite some time. Specifically, the implication of 301 redirects as a method of partially bypassing or somewhat diminishing SEO penalites.

What does a 301 redirect do?

301 redirects are a way of transferring SEO rankings + SEO credit from one domain name to another. It allows you to change your online “name,” to a new domain name – without completely starting over from scratch. If you’re in a penalty, that penalty can also pass through.

In some cases, Google can ignore the 301 redirect if it looks suspicious, or if it looks like the redirect like it may be an attempt at negative SEO. For example, if a website with 100,000 backlinks gets redirected to a domain name with 0 backlinks – Google may ignore the redirect completely, or it may only allow a certain number of the backlinks to be credited to the new domain.

How can an attorney use it to rank better?

If you think you’re in a Google penalty, you probably have data to support your complain. You were probably ranking better, and now you’re ranking worse. It’s important to know, though, why you’re ranking worse. For example, if you’re ranking worse because you were “outcompeted,” by the competition – that’s a completely different issue vs. having a Google penalty. If you’re simply being outcompeted, a 301 redirect will do absolutely nothing to help fix that. If a lawyer SEO firm is promising this will help, then it’s probably a lie.

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If you were ranking better, and are aware of poor SEO practices done – then a 301 redirect MAY be the answer. Typically, before you consider abandoning your existing domain name, you want to do all of the restorative tasks possible. For example, if the issue is poor content – you want to delete all of the poor content on your website, or improve all of the existing content – in order to help remediate the issue. In the past, we’ve seen clients get out of Panda penalties – by changing their content all together, or in some extreme cases – creating a new website, with a new design + new content, top to bottom.

301 redirect’s aren’t magic bullets – and they don’t work as a sure option to avoid penalties. Before you engage in potentially murky tactics, you want to do everything possible to fix the issue on your own.

If your penalty is due to a Penguin algorithm / backlink, reason – the first thing you should do is remove all of the negative backlinks coming to your site. It’s important to do this before – 301 redirecting, or doing anything else. After you’ve removed as many as possible, your next step is to disavow as many links as you can.

What is link disavowment?

Disavowing links is a manner in which you tell Google – that you didn’t build certain links, and to remove any association with those links. Depending on how you’re using it, it can help you distance yourself from negative links – and create a way to get out of manual penalties and/or algorithm penalties. The issue is, sometimes the disavowment and link removal isn’t enough. You sometimes need to totally distance yourself from the existing toxic mess. In this case, a 301 redirect can help .