What is 301 Status Code (Canonicalization Issues)?

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301 status codes is the power in the hands of website owners when it comes to controlling and redirecting the URLs. 301 refer to the permanently moved page response. 301 is the status code for the requested URL by the site visitor that is passed back from the server. Use of 301 status code provides a proper passage for the link juice to a new location. It also automatically redirects the site visitor or bot to a proper URL. Already discussed in previous article about HTTP Status Codes, & also discussed 404 Page Not Found, In this article we will talk about how to fix a 301 status code.
There are two ways of implementing 301 redirects. Either it can be implemented at the server level or can be coded into the page that you wish to redirect. The preferable method is setting a 301 status code at the server level but for this you have to be well versed with few tricks and methods.

What is 301 Status Code

Implementation of 301 Moved Permanently Status Code

The 301 redirect commands can be set up with the use of htaccess file (.htaccess) which is located in the Apache server environment.  The 301 redirect commands can be easily edited with simple text editor tool like notepad. The .htaccess file resides in the root directory of the site domain. One of the simplest forms of 301 redirect command is link tag using Rel Canonical.

Canonicalization Issues

Canonicalization is a common issue that most of the websites face and is not paid much attention but it is one that plagues major elements of a website. We can fix canonical issue with .htaccess. Some of the most important reasons to resolve the canonical issue are listed below:
  • Does not allow multiple URLs for same content on the website.
  • Prevents dilution of link juice to same content URLs
  • With canonicalization search engine does not auto choose the URL but selects the one you want in SERPs.
In the year 2009, Google came up with a new solution for the canonical issue and announced that now they would accept a new form of the link tag which would help the website owners handle canonicalization issues. The new element they introduced was rel=canonical. This tag was introduced to simply the process of canonicalization for search engine bots. This link tag can be added to the <head> section of any with the correct URL for the elaborated content on that page.
Now when the search engine bot accesses website’s index.html and finds there a canonical link tag with the ref added to the trailing slash version, a signal will be sent to the bot that the trailing slash url is the actual URL for this specific content. Then the search engine will evaluate the trailing URL for the ranking purpose in SERPs. After this search engines passes all link juice to the trailing slash pages.
However, the link tag does not affect the functioning of a website. It even does not assure that visitors will not link to an “incorrect” URL in the future. This tag is designed for bots and keeps both the versions of a page live. Now, if you want to delete the duplicate version of a page then use the 301 redirects.

Tips to fix 301 Status Code:

The status codes in the category 3xx are considered redirect messages. These codes indicate to your web browser that the user has to perform an additional action to access the required resource. 301 status code indicates issue on the web server that hosts your application, so we while diagnosing we can ignore the things on client side. If you are using an application and it shows 301 moved permanently, then there is some issue with all the processing happening in the back end. If we talk about how to fix the 301 moved permanently status code, there are many ways to do it. So let us discuss in detail some tips to diagnose and fix http 301 error:

You need to add your .htaccess to fix the non-www to www canonicalization issue:

#Force WWW
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^ [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$$1 [L,R=301,NC]

RewriteEngine On (www to non-www domain)

#Force non-www
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^www\.myexample\.com [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$$1 [L,R=301]

Inspect Server Configuration Files: 

The very first step you need to take to check the cause of 301 moved permanently is the configuration files of your web server software which will be most likely Apache or nginx as both of these web servers make 84% of the world’s web server software. If your system’s web server is Apache then look for .htaccess file within the root directory. On the other hand if the server is working on nginx then you will have to look for nginx.conf in one of a few common directories.

Check for Application Code or Script Bugs: 

If nothing else works then there might be problem in the custom code within your application. Debugging your application manually will help you to find out where the problem is occurring. Ideally, one should copy the entire application and perform a step-by-step debug process. This will allow you to recreate the scenario in which the 301 moved permanently occurred.

Check Server –Side Logs:

Every application will keep some kind of side logs. The application logs basically the history of all the activities that happened on an application like, which pages were requested, the server it connected to, database results etc. Server logs are related to the actual hardware and will offer details about the health of all connected devices and services. Use Google to get more information about the server-side logs. 
We hope this will give you a clear idea about the 301 Moved Permanently status code. These few steps will definitely help you to fix the http error 301 and various other error codes that occur in your system.

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Anjan kant

Outstanding journey in Microsoft Technologies (ASP.Net, C#, SQL Programming, WPF, Silverlight, WCF etc.), client side technologies AngularJS, KnockoutJS, Javascript, Ajax Calls, Json and Hybrid apps etc. I love to devote free time in writing, blogging, social networking and adventurous life

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