Tag Archives: automation tip

These Uses for Redirects Can Save You Time and Money

Redirects

3 Uses for 301 Redirects

I know, I couldn’t resist the numerical alliteration: 3 uses for 301 Redirects. Before we get into the uses, this post will cover some of the technical aspects you may or may not know about 301 redirects, 404 error messages, and why they matter on your website.

Technical Aspects of 301 Redirects

301 Redirects is a technical term for telling web browsers to go to a different page than the one you entered into a browser. The purpose of a redirect is to keep people from being frustrated by the error message you see so often in internet surfing: “Oops! The page you are looking for cannot be found!” This error message is technically called a 404 error message when a server receives a request for a page that it does not have. 301 Redirects Avoid a 404 Error

This is an error you do not want your users to see on your page.

“Generally, 404s don’t harm your site’s performance in search, but you can use them to help improve the user experience.”  – Google Webmaster Tools

Rather than sending the user this error message, a 301 message tells the browser to go from the intended address to another one of your choosing. Even though Google says, generally, it does not hurt search ranking, you do not want people to click on a search result and land on a 404 error message. This is the number one reason people use redirects: to prevent the website user from bouncing because they got an error message.

I have discovered several uses for redirects that do more than just prevent 404 error messages. Read on for more info.

Redirect Hacks

Redirect to A Social Page

One use of a redirect I have discovered, and use, is to send people from an easy web address to a hard to remember URL for a social platform. For example, I use www.mybloggingcommunity.com to send traffic to my free Facebook group. With a social platform, your address always comes after the name of the platform, so even if it only a word address (many profiles use long strings of numbers), it is better to have 3-4 words that identify your business and redirect that to your social platform.

Redirect from A Page You Haven’t Built

When I was writing the review for Hobo’s Grill in Fort Mill, SC, I thought I would probably want to build a landing page focusing on restaurants and breweries, but I did not have time to do it at that moment.

With a 301 redirect, I was able to insert my preferred link to the text of the article and set up a redirect to my homepage so that readers who click on it will still see something of value and when I build my local restaurants landing page, it will already have links to it.

Manage Inventory

I noticed this with an online store that I was helping manage: if you no longer hold a certain inventory item, people will land on broken pages when they look for it. If you are selling a product on your site, this is the last possible thing you want your users to see!

If you are going to discontinue an item in your inventory management, make sure you set up a 301 to send the users on to the replacement item. If you do not have a replacement item, then send users to a landing page explaining that you no longer hold that type of item, but recommend they look at a list of other sites. This way, you are providing your user with valuable service, rather than leaving them high and dry on your desolate 404 page.

These are some of the uses I have discovered for a 301 Redirect. What are some uses you have discovered?

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How Automation Tricks Save Me 100s of Hours a Month

Note: The first part of this post about my social marketing tip is mostly tongue in cheek. If you want to get to the meat of the automation tricks, head down to the bottom of the post. If you don’t mind reading a little bloomin humor (sorry, couldn’t help it), read on.

I often read about how the machines are going to replace everyone in the workforce and how bad this is for us. I think that we are overreacting.

One Neat Automation Trick

Yes, artificial intelligence seems like we are creating our nemesis from the show Terminator, but the fact of the matter is, we have no idea how to create an intelligence like ours. So, what are these fancy AI creations actually functioning as?

The End of Many Jobs Saves Me Time

Well, modern AI is just a better version of the machines we have been using for years to save time. AI systems are labor saving devices a lot like the ones we all use every day (and replace human labor in the process).

  • Dishwasher – This is one of my favorite industrial automation tools. Really. I went without one for so long, when we got a dishwasher in our new home, I calculated the time savings to me at about 1.75 hrs per day, every day of the month. So just this item alone saves me 37 hours a month.
  • Laundry Machine – Have you ever done laundry by hand? I spent 5 weeks in Mombasa, Kenya in 2004 at a YWAM base. We did all our laundry by hand. Time it took per machine sized load? 30 min, conservative estimate and that is just the washing part. At a conservative 4 loads per week for my family of four, using a washing machine saves my wife and I 60 hours of work each month.
  • Automobile – OK, I understand that people did not travel as far as before cars became the auto-motion of choice, so I will not include my commute to work. But, I will include my commute to the grocery store nearby because it is within walking distance (30 min), but I choose to drive it (5 min). So, since we go to two different stores about twice a week, that is a time savings of 400 min. or 6 hours and 40 minutes a month travel time. IF I did include my travel to work (10 Miles round trip) or my wife’s bimonthly trips to school (20 miles round trip), the time saved goes up significantly.
  • Search Algorithms – Now, I know you’re probably not one of the weird nerds who flipped open the encyclopedia at the dinner table to argue about whether Gengis Khan actually became a Christian in his old age, but my family was. I still remember that dinner table conversation because my mom was absolutely adamant that he had not, but our World Book Encyclopedia disagreed with her. So my brother won that conversation. Anyways, the time it takes to find something out nowadays has drastically decreased: you can say it to the AI on a modern phone and get an answer back from whatever page is on the top of Google in a matter of a few seconds. Or, if you’re particularly old-school, you can still type it in. Since I am a writer, automated search functions save me probably 10 hours of work a week researching my blogs.
  • Automatic Lights – Lights aren’t automatic, you say. You still have to flip the switch. Yes, but have you ever tried filling a lantern? Have you lived by the light of candles? Both of these are amazingly inefficient systems, especially if you are making the oil and the candles yourself. That was the pioneer way. The last time I made candles was in school, but it took about 20 minutes to create 6 by hand-dipping. You need at least 4 to read, so in order to make certain we have 4 hours of light a night, and assuming a burn rate of 1 every 2 hours, you need 8 per day or 240 candles total. Time to make them? 120 minutes or 2 hours (and that is if you have the ingredients warmed on an electric warmer, and does not include clean-up time).

So, I have counted up over 100 hours of time saved from these modern devices. See? Automation has already killed the hand-washer, the candlestick maker, the cart driver, the launder (well, no, it didn’t do that, but they definitely changed). And we are worried about the next innovations?

OK. Now that I’m done my silliness, here is the actual time-saving device I learned this week:

IFTTT – The One Neat Automation Trick I Learned Last Week

Pronounced ift (like gift, but without the g), IFTTT, IF This Then That, is an automated tool that allows you to create automatic responses to events in apps you control.

For example, I use IFTT to automate my social media marketing. I set events in my Google calendar titled “GroupPost.” I put a link to a Canva photo in the where file and what I want to say in my group in the Description box (I linked to a new Google Calendar I created specifically for Facebook Management). Then I set the post to repeat every week, or on the same date each month, or every other week.

In IFTTT, I create an applet (that’s what they call ’em) to send that post to my Facebook posting system (for my group I have to use Buffer). This allows me to create automatic posting of an activity on Facebook and set it up to repeat when I want it to.

For more reading on IFTTT, check out this Reddit thread or this article on 40 IFTTT Recipes at Buffer.

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