If you've been doing business online for a long time, then chances are you've used redirects from time to time. Redirects are when someone types in a URL for a domain and the user is automatically sent (or "redirected") to another domain.

You may have also heard that Google may penalize you for having a domain redirect to another one. Redirects cause some problems on the Internet, and even Pay Per Click search engines often require that the domain to which you send traffic is the one where the user ends up – no redirects allowed.

But there are valid reasons why business owners and affiliates may need to use a redirect strategy. For instance, what if you move your domain and your existing customers aren't aware of it? If your website simply closes without notice, the traffic will see a 404 Error Code that the page can no longer be found.

You might also need to send your other domains, such as additional extensions (.org, 'net, .biz) to your primary domain (.com). So how do you go about redirecting without being penalized by search engines?

You have to use a 301 redirect code. If the move is only temporary, then you can use a 302 redirect code, but if it's permanent, you want to use the 301. If you use other methods of redirecting your domain, such as JavaScript redirects, the search engine won't allow you to retain link popularity and other SEO advantages you've worked so hard for with your original site.

Setting up 301 redirect codes differ, depending on whether you are hosted on a Unix/Apache or a Windows server. Unix/ Apache uses a file called .htaccess; 301 redirect on a Windows server (for .asp or asp.net) is controlled by entering a small script at the top of your landing page file.

If you are using a full-service hosting company, try opening your hosting control panel and choose the redirect options. Every host is different, but you should be able to enter the redirect information and choose a permanent redirect, which will create a 301 code for you. This way, you'll maintain a positive ranking with Google and other search engines and won't be docked for your SEO efforts for not redirecting the right way.