Practical Ecommerce

Ask An Expert: How to Redirect URLs Without Losing Link Juice

Ask an Expert is an occasional feature where we ask ecommerce experts questions from online merchants. For this installment, we address a question about redirecting users from old URLs to new ones. It comes from Brian Rogers, web merchandising manager for 511 Tactical, an online (and physical) store that sells specialized clothing and gear to law enforcement and fire-protection professionals.

For the answer, we turn to Jill Kocher, manager of the search consulting services team at Covario. She is also an SEO consultant and a regular contributor to Practical eCommerce.

If you’d like to submit a question, email Kate Monteith, staff writer, at kate@practicalecommerce.com and we’ll attempt to address it.

Brian Rogers

Brian Rogers

Brian Rogers: “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?”

Jill Kocher

Jill Kocher

Jill Kocher: “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.”

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Comments ( 3 )

  1. Nat January 22, 2010 Reply

    On a related note if you have duplicate content that you can’t redirect using "rel=canonical" is the surest way to maintain your SERP and not upset "the Google." They [wrote about it on their blog.](http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2009/02/specify-your-canonical.html)

  2. George Zlatin January 26, 2010 Reply

    Are you sure that it is worth risking your current rankings by redirecting all of your current URL’s to new ones? Although 301 redirects are the best type of redirect for this it seems like a risky move and I would consider all of the factors especially if you already have high rankings for certain keywords. Sometimes it’s best to just leave your old URL’s alone.

  3. Josh Jacobs September 11, 2012 Reply

    kate, I have read articles from http://www.practicalecommerce.com/articles/1583-Ask-An-Expert-How-to-Redirect-URLs-Without-Losing-Link-Juice

    As per the article, their indexation and rankings reflect the new URLs within 30 to 90 days of successful implementation.

    But, google has not said anywhere about 90 days for pass link juice.

    Even not in – http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=93633

    Actually,I want to redirect a specific page to the new page. Can I get all link juice within 90 days?

    Looking forward to your positive response.