When migrating a show from one host to another, or changing the URL from one website or another, there are specific steps that have to occur in the right order to ensure you maintain your best SEO and that your listeners seamlessly follow you wherever you go.
That is where the 301 redirect comes into play.
There are many different types of redirects including 301’s, 302’s, and even other forms of forwarding of URLs such as meta refreshes and URL forwarding. In podcasting (and in most URL change situations), the 301 redirect reigns supreme.
So what, exactly, is a 301 redirect?
The 301 redirect is often times referred to as a permanent redirect. It is generally understood by web hosting servers and web browsers alike that when it encounters a 301 redirect, that means the old URL it was trying to visit has moved, permanently.
Think of it like telling your local post office you’ve changed to a new house address, and all mail should be redirected to you at the new address. As friends, families, and bills mail you, they begin to update their own databases to your new house address, knowing your old one is no good anymore.
That is what the 301 redirect does. Let’s use the following example RSS feed:
Let’s say that feed URL is going move to a new feed URL:
And that change is permanent, it will never go back. In that case, a 301 redirect would be used to point that old feed to the new. When someone tries to access the old feed URL, they are automatically redirected to the new feed URL. In fact, the user often never even notices the change, it just happens.
Why is this important in podcasting?
The 301 redirect is a part of a long running standard used in changing a feed URL from one thing to another, in combination with a special tag (the new feed URL tag discussed below).
When a 301 redirect (and the new feed URL tag) is used, it tells podcast directories that support it that your feed URL has changed and they should update their database. Not only will they update, but those subscribers using that app/directory will automatically update as well, never even noticing a change. Your listeners come along with you as you change feed URLs.
Why would I change my feed URL?
Most podcast hosts utilize a feed URL for your show that they assign to you. If you change hosts, you need to update the feed URL used in podcast directories and for your subscribers. This is one part of many parts of the migration process when moving from one host to another.
Side Note: If you are migrating from one host to another, make sure the new host is able to import your content from your existing RSS feed PRIOR to setting up any redirects.
Can I setup a 301 redirect at any host?
Unfortunately, no. Not all podcast hosts support the ability to add a 301 redirect. Some hosts support it directly in their dashboard (as Libsyn has and continues to do), some hosts ask you contact them for assistance. Some hosts do not offer this ability, which makes it difficult to migrate without negatively affecting your audience.
Do all podcast directories automatically update based on the 301 redirect?
Also, unfortunately, no. Most directories and apps will automatically update. However, there are some that require a more manual approach, different for each directory. Some more popular directories to be aware of that do not support the 301 redirect would be:
OK, got it. How do I setup a 301 at Libsyn? Also, when and where do I need this “new feed URL tag” you mention above?
Let’s start with the 301 redirect. 301 redirects are easily added in Libsyn by going under Settings on your main menu, then selecting Redirects from the left hand side bar.
Enter the RSS feed URL you want to redirect your RSS feeds to:
Hit Save to save your settings. You will be asked to confirm if this is really what you want to do.
Note: As explained above, 301 redirects are used specifically to move your RSS feed from one host to another. Only enter a 301 redirect for your RSS feeds at Libsyn in this box if you want to change your feed URLs to a new feed at a new host.
Hit Yes to save finalize your changes.
What feed URLs, exactly, does this affect? All of them. Libsyn generates an RSS feed specific for each feed based destination you configure in the system (i.e. Spotify, iHeartRadio, RadioPublic, Pandora, etc). Some of these have their own, special configurations which is why we have a different feed for each destination.
This 301 redirect will redirect all Libsyn generated feeds to whatever URL you place in this field.
At this point, you will need to add that new feed URL tag to your new RSS feed. The redirect gets placed in your old feed pointing to your new, the new tag gets placed in the new feed referencing the new feed URL:
What this does, specifically with regards to Apple Podcasts, is ensures that not only iTunes but also Apple Podcasts on mobile all update correctly. BOTH are needed to update both sides of the Apple System.
Your 301 redirect setup at Libsyn will remain online forever, even if you close your Libsyn hosting account.
I’m moving to Libsyn. What steps do I need to take?
Welcome to Libsyn! The migration path is generally quite straight forward. Let’s break it down step by step:
- Contact the Libsyn Support Team to have your existing content migrated into the Libsyn System
- Once that is done, contact your OLD podcast host requesting a 301 redirect be added pointing your OLD RSS feed URL to your NEW Libsyn generated RSS feed URL
- Configure the new feed URL tag inside your Libsyn generated feed URL
Adding the tag is simple inside Libsyn, just follow these steps:
- Log into your Dashboard
- Select Destinations
- Edit your Libsyn RSS Feed
- Scroll to the bottom and open Advanced Options
- Enter the New Feed URL tag in the Extra RSS Tags text box. It should look like this:
(replace <show slug> with YOUR show slug).
So to recap…
To migrate to Libsyn, do these things:
- Have support copy your content from your host into Libsyn
- Setup a 301 redirect pointing your old RSS feed to your new
- Setup the new feed URL tag inside Libsyn’s RSS feed referencing your new Libsyn RSS feed URL
To migrate away from Libsyn, do these things:
- Have your new host copy your content from Libsyn into their system
- Setup a 301 redirect in Libsyn pointing your old Libsyn feed to your new feed
- Setup the new feed URL tag inside your NEW RSS feed referencing your NEW non-Libsyn RSS feed URL
One last question… can I redirect my Podcast Page URL?
Yes! If you are using the Libsyn Podcast Page and want to redirect to a new website URL, you can enter the new URL into your redirects:
This will setup a 301 redirect pointing your old Podcast Page URL to your new website URL.
Getting Additional Help
Have questions? Contact our support staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.