301 Redirects: Formatting Bulk Redirects in 4 Quick Steps

By Janet Driscoll Miller | Oct 14, 2010
More Articles by Janet

So you’ve got a website redesign going on. Exciting! But the one thing that most folks find less exciting than the reveal of the bright and shiny new website is the behind-the-scenes efforts to retain organic search rankings. 301 redirects, while necessary, are rarely a fun endeavor, and the formatting can take forever. Here’s an easy way to quickly format your 301 redirect mapping for non-dynamic pages to match .htaccess formatting.

Step One: Map the Old Web Pages to the New in Excel

The mapping step takes time, but is relatively straightforward. Create a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet with two columns — one for the existing URL and one for the new URL to redirect to on the new website. For each old URL that is changing, enter a new URL in the appropriate column. Use the full website URL (ex: http://www.search-mojo.com/about-us.php versus about-us.php). For instance, we just relaunched the Search Mojo site and had some old pages that needed to be redirected to new versions. Here’s our mapping:

Step Two: Format the Excel Document to Match .htaccess Formatting

After the mapping is complete, follow these steps to format the data in Excel to match the 301 redirect formatting required for .htaccess:

1. Select the old URL column and remove the main domain. For instance, if the old web page is “http://www.search-mojo.com/about-us.php”, the replaced domain URL would be “about-us.php”. You can easily do this for all of the URLs by hitting CTRL-H to do a find/replace, then replacing the domain (with trailing slash) with “redirect 301 “:

2. Select all of the cells in the old site column and the new site column, then copy and paste into a word document.

Step Three: Edit the Data in Word

Pasting the data from Excel into Word will paste the data as a table.

You’ll then want to change the table to text. Select the table, then under the Table/Format menu, select “Convert Table to Text” and select “Other” for the separator option. For other, use a single space.

Step Four: Adding to Your .htaccess File

Finally, you’ll want to add the reformatted redirects into your .htaccess file. Download the .htaccess file from your server. Open it in an HTML editing program (or even notepad or the like), then copy and paste your redirects from Word into the .htaccess file. Save the file, upload to your server, and you’re done!

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  • You learn something new every day! I have never thought of using excel, I have always cut and past manually, thanks for pointing out my lack of thought LOL

  • Pingback: Detour! 301 Redirects and SEO | Alt Media()

  • Kathy Long

    You’re going to feel really stupid when I tell you when you redid your website, you forgot to 301 redirect it! I had a link to it in my Evernote that brought me to a 404 page. So there you go. You’re welcome. And thank you for such a great article!

    • Janet Driscoll Miller

      Kathy, thanks for the comment. However, we did 301 redirect our entire site. Not sure why you encountered a problem, but glad you found the article!

  • You’re a life saver <3 This is JUST what I needed !!

    • Janet Driscoll Miller

      Carly, so glad it was helpful!

  • Thanks for sharing

  • Noel Maurice

    Hi, great article – the only place I found on the web that describes it so easily. BUT – the images are broken, so I can’t see the examples, and also I’m confused by the “redirect 301 “: – do i literally write – “redirect 301 “: – or without the quotation marks, and if without the quotation marks, do I include the colon, or with quotation marks and colon, and if so does the colon go inside the quotation marks? You’re probably sensing my pain 🙂 – I know this is an older article but if you could help me with that I’d be extremely grateful! (and the article led me to explore the rest of the site and sign up to get updates :))

    • Daniel Taylor

      You write them without the quotation marks.No colon just a space after the redirect 301.