Redirect URLs Without Losing Link Juice

Lots of people want to know the proper way to redirect users from old URLs to new ones.

The Question: We are currently changing the URLs on our website to become more SEO friendly. We are planning on using the 301 command to redirect the old URLs to the new URLs, but will we lose all the valuable in-bound links [which help with search engine optimization] we have going to the old URLs?

The Answer: A 301 redirect is the surest way to pass link popularity to the new URL and de-index the old URL in a URL rewrite scenario. The trick is making sure that the server header status is a 301 permanent redirect, not a 302 temporary redirect or a meta or JavaScript refresh.

Only the 301 redirect accomplishes these three important goals:

  1. Redirects the user agent to the content at the new URL
  2. Passes the old URL’s link popularity to the new URL
  3. Prompts de-indexation of the old URL

The other common forms of redirects, 302 redirects and refreshes, will only accomplish the first goal of redirecting the user agent to the content at the new URL.

Keep in mind that a period of ranking and traffic volatility tends to follow URL rewrites. Typically the engines will have adjusted their indexation and rankings to reflect the new URLs within 30 to 90 days of successful implementation; but, depending on the scope of the URL rewrites and the flawlessness of the redirect implementation, it can be a bumpy ride. It’s a good idea to plan URL rewrites and other structural changes for slower seasons, leaving a good 90 days before the site needs to be performing for a peak selling season again.

2 thoughts on “Redirect URLs Without Losing Link Juice

  1. Pingback: Redirect URLs Without Losing Link Juice | Pheasant Phun

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