Search: 301 Redirect Changes

Google is changing how it interprets your 301 (and other 30X) redirects. Heres a comparison of the old and the new, and what you should already be doing.

Previously:

  • Migrating a site to HTTPS would lose rank, just because 301 (permanent) redirects need to happen to do so.
  • 302 are temporary redirects, so they weren’t even counted as redirects.
  • 301 redirects lost somewhere between 10% and 20% ranking. The same as linking a page to an entirely different one. See this youtube verifying.

I’ve always recommended:

  • Not redirecting unless absolutely necessary.
  • Focus on setting up a great Information Architecture, reducing the need for redirects to be required.
  • Launching your site in HTTPS by default. This also brings bonus page rank, and lets servers use enhanced browser technology to make sites load faster. Not to mention the peace of mind your users receive, especially if you’re collecting data.

This year, changes have are underway to reduce these pains:

  • Rank is no longer lost for 301 and 302 redirects. It can be assumed the main reason is to push adoption of HTTPS.
  • Google in particular doesn’t care which redirect method you use, they’ll all be interpreted correctly and no rank will be lost.
  • Hypothetically, if you redirect a page, and the content remains exactly the same. You can expect no rank loss.

All redirects carry risks, consider POST or GET data that may be sent also. These could be lost depending on how you implement redirection. If you redirect a page to an irrelevant one, it may be interpreted as a 404 (Not Found)

You should focus on establishing a good site structure and have HTTPS on regardless of any of these changes.

Published

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You should be using h2 (HTTP/2) and HTTPS and compelling reasons to make the switch to HTTPS if for you still haven’t.