Status Codes Technical SEO

1 Big Reason You Should Still Remove Those 301 Redirects

1 Big Reason You Should Still Remove Those 301 Redirects

29th July 2016ElizabethElizabeth

Good news! Your PageRank will no longer be diluted when a page returns 301, 302, or 3XX redirects. A brand new announcement by Google insider (webmaster trends analyst) Gary Illyes says redirects won’t cause you to lose PageRank.

So does this mean you don’t have to worry about these pages anymore, and can leave them where they are?

We think not.

Just because you’re no longer officially losing PageRank value on redirect HTTP status codes, it doesn’t mean you can just let sleeping dogs redirecting pages lie.

Remove 301 Redirects Save Crawl Budget

Why you still need to remove 301, 302 & 30x Redirect pages

To start from the beginning, it’s important to remember that any HTTP status code that is not 200 (OK) is considered non-indexable. That page loses points right out of the gate.

Consider this scenario: You have 400 pages on your site that return a 301, 302, or 3XX redirect status when accessed. For your users this doesn’t have a huge impact as they’re sent over to a new page, but crawlers like Googlebot take note and – until now – send “linking juice” along to URLs that aren’t worthwhile.

So yes, you might not be losing PageRank when your pages return a 301 redirect anymore, but there are still consequences beyond ranking that need to be considered.

Your redirects are wasting Crawl Budget.

Googlebot only has a limited amount of resources to dedicate to crawling your website. Like the cash in your wallet, once it’s gone, it’s gone and it won’t go any further. The crawler won’t get to any more pages than its resources allow. Do you really want to waste it on pages that have no SEO value?

Botify Report: Distribution of HTTP Status Codes

How many 3XX redirect pages do you have in your site structure? If it’s more than just a few, Google could be spending huge amounts of time crawling these pages instead of crawling useful, strategic pages that can drive real organic traffic.

What you lose when crawlers access redirected pages:

  • Google’s Crawl Budget, spent before it reaches more valuable pages
  • Google’s resources to store the data they gather about these pages
  • Google’s resources to plan future crawls of this page, again causing valuable pages to miss out on being crawled

Googlebot (and other search engine bots) actually have to spend double the energy when exploring redirected pages as they ultimately need to request 2 URLs to get to the destination page. And some redirects are particularly slow to process, wasting even more precious crawl time.

Now, let’s go even further and consider how many of these 3XX redirected pages are actually outside of the structure of your website. Google is taking the time to crawl these orphan pages, and they’re not even in your core structure!

What do you do?

It’s time to fix – or remove – your redirected URLs

In order to remove your 301, 302, or 3XX redirect pages, you need to identify 3 things:

  • The list of URLS returning redirects
  • The destination pages of the redirections
  • Where links exist to the 3XX URLs

Now, you can either address the redirected pages themselves, or you can address the pages with links to these redirected pages. You can choose your own adventure for which approach is prioritized, but if you have important pages stuck behind redirects (like strategic content, navigation pages, or canonical pages) these should probably be at the top of your to-do list.

How many 301 redirects?

How many redirect pages are on your site? (Botify Report)

For efficiency’s sake, it might make sense to prioritize updating the links on pages that send traffic to redirects. Correcting a large number of these links right away can go a long way to helping Googlebot crawl more of your deserving pages.

Where do redirects link to?

What pages are linking to redirects? How many links? (Botify Report)

Regardless of the approach you decide to take, it’s important to address the impact of 301 redirects on your SEO. Despite what Google’s Gary Illyes and engineers say, you should still remove any 3XX redirect pages to ensure you’re not wasting precious crawl time!

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