If you aren't familiar with URL redirecting, it's similar to having your mail forwarded by the post office when you move. Even if someone puts your old address on the package, the post office knows to forward it to your new address.
If you move a page on your website to a different location - or move your entire website - a URL redirect enables the web page to be referenced from more than one URL, so people can find it even if they try accessing the old URL.
A 301 redirect is used when an inbound link to a particular page references a page that has been permanently moved to a different location on the Web. If customers can't find your new address, they can't shop in your store. Volusion makes it easy to implement 301 redirects using the 301 Redirect Manager in your Admin Area.
Accessing the 301 Redirect Page
If you have a shipping policies page, it may have been located at a different URL on your old site than it is on your Volusion site. If shoppers used to access your shipping policies at http://www.myvolusionstore.com/shipping and it is now located at http://www.myvolusionstore.com/articles.asp?ID=57, you'll want them to be able to type in the old URL and still get redirected to the correct page with your shipping policies.
The source path represents the URL where a page used to be located, and the target path indicates the URL you want shoppers to be redirected to.
Importing 301 Redirects
In the 301 Redirect Manager page, you'll upload a list of redirects using a standard, pre-prepared, XML file with the following format:
<redirects> <r> <s>source1.html</s> <t>newdirectory/target1.html</t> </r> <r> <s>source2.html</s> <t>newdirectory/target2.html</t> </r> </redirects>
- Once your XML file is ready, click Browse on the 301 Redirect Manager page and locate the file on your computer.
- Click on Upload to engage the XML file upload.
- Note that selecting Replace All Redirects will overwrite all pre-existing 301 redirects with the contents of the new XML file.
- Click on the Click Here to Download the Redirects XML File link to view and download the current list of redirects within the system - in XML format.
- Use the above option to obtain a basic XML-formatted file which can be used as a template to build custom 301 redirect-based XML files.
The system can read and process up to 5,000 redirects in one XML file. If more than 5,000 redirects need to be imported, they will have to be imported using multiple files.
Using the Redirect Manager
301 redirects can also be manually entered line-by-line using the Redirect Manager. The Redirect Manager consists of 3 values for each redirect:
IP Address Security Rules
|Source Path||This is where the original file or files were located relative to the store's domain name. Note that only the path and file(s) that follow the domain name in the relative URL should be entered here.|
|Target Path||This is the location the 301 redirect will send all inbound links requesting the file(s) at the Source Path location. Again, this generally will be the URL location without the site domain name.|
|Delete||Enabling this option and clicking Save at the bottom of the page will delete the respective redirect from the system.|
One other option available within the Volusion redirection table - Redirect .aspx pages to default.asp. - will enable a special redirect option for any custom scripts you've created using Microsoft's ASP.Net and uploaded to your store's public directories. When active, the system will redirect a browser experiencing any 404 (page not found) or other error in regards to custom .aspx pages to your store's default.asp page, effectively redirecting the browser to your storefront.
Tips and Tricks
The following are some tips and examples of how you can use the 301 Redirect Manager to manage inbound links to your store.
Using a 301 Redirect After Migrating to Volusion
If you've recently migrated your store to Volusion from another ecommerce provider, Volusion's file and directory structure will not be an exact match for your previous provider's structure. You may have a legacy of custom files, images, and product links that have been indexed by search engines and referenced by affiliates and blogs that would be contextually lost after the migration.
Volusion's 301 Redirect page lets you keep everything in place by setting up redirects to automatically forward visitors, customers - even search engine links - to any specific location within your new Volusion store.
Let's say you're an online clothing retailer migrating to Volusion and you have a custom size chart you provide to your customers via PDF file. The PDF file was located within the old system's root directory, but will reside in a different location in your Volusion store.
You want to make sure customers and search engines that reference the file's previous link can still find it online at its new location. Here's what you can do:
- Log in to your Admin Area and go to Settings > Maintenance.
- Click on the Manage 301 Redirects link.
- Within the Redirect Manager table's Source Path field, enter the original file location (in this case: /size_chart.pdf).
- In the Target Path field, enter the new file location (in this case: /v/vspfiles/sizechart.pdf).
- Click Save.
That's it! Now, all incoming links or visitors to the size chart will be automatically redirected to its new location. This rule even applies to links reported by Google, Yahoo, and other search engines.
301 redirects will only be applicable provided that there is no active file or domain at the location provided within the Source Path field. If this is not the case, the source path will be ignored in favor of the actual file in the source path's location.
Additionally, the 301 redirect system does not take query strings into account when redirecting. To redirect a URL that contains a query string, your source path should use the file name (and any subdirectories, if present) only.
Note on Reserved Sub-directories
The following sub-directories are reserved for Volusion use:
Because these sub-directories are in use by Volusion, you are not able to create 301 redirect from any of the above directories (the Source Path cannot be a page contained in one of these directories).
Using Wild Cards With 301 Redirects
If you need to redirect inbound visitors and links from an entire series of files to those files at another location, you don't need to create a redirect for each file - they can simply use the wildcard character.
You need to redirect inbound links to custom images on your previous site to the same images now hosted in Volusion (the images in this case number in the hundreds). To do so, try the following:
- Log in to your Admin Area and go to Settings > Maintenance.
- Click Manage 301 Redirects.
- Within the Redirect Manager table's Source Path field, enter the directory the images were located in, relative to the domain, followed by the wildcard character (e.g. /images/*).
- In the Target Path field, enter the location of the directory currently containing the images, followed by the wildcard character (e.g. /v/vspfiles/images/).
- Click Save.
Done! Inbound links to the images at their original location will now be automatically redirected to their current location on an file-to-file basis.
Volusion 301 redirects can potentially save you a lot of time, energy, and money. If you're planning on moving pages on your site - or your entire site - to a different location, take advantage of this feature and make the transition seamless for you and your customers.
For another helpful article about the advantages of using 301 redirects, see Auto 301 Redirects to SEO Friendly URLs.