A 301 redirect is a method of telling web browsers and search engines that a web page or site has been permanently moved to a new location. Usually a 301 redirect includes the address to which the resource has been moved. Web browsers will typically follow 301 redirects to the new location automatically, without the need for user action.
A 301 redirect should be used whenever a website is moved to a new domain name (URL) so that search engines will quickly change their indeces and, in theory, preserve the search engine rankings that the site had at the previous domain.
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