When I change domains, how long should I leave the redirects in place?
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When I change domains, how long should I leave the redirects in place?


Today’s question comes from
Jacob in Denmark. Jacob wants to know, if I get
a new domain and want to 301 redirect www.olddomain.com to
www.newdomain.com, how long do I have to keep the redirect up
before I can start using the old domain for something else? Just until it has been
crawled once? Well, this is something where
search engines can change their policy over time, because
we might see the web evolving, or we might see how
webmasters either have issues, those sorts of things. I can tell you about my
experience moving from mattcutts.com to dullest.com and
then dullest.com back to mattcutts.com Whenever I decided
to move back, I used a 301 redirect. And it took a period of
several weeks, because remember, 301s happen
at a page level. So just because you see one
301 on one page of the old domain does not mean
the entire domain has completely migrated. What I did, is I set up the
redirect such that every single page was redirecting
from dullest.com to mattcutts.com so it had been
a complete transition. And I really didn’t bother to
check on dullest.com for a few weeks, maybe a couple months. And then when I went back and
looked at Google Analytics, at that point, all of my traffic
had swapped over from dullest.com to mattcutts.com So typically, over a period of a
few weeks, or several weeks, maybe think about it like a
couple months, for example, then we might be able to
detect that a site has entirely moved. But if we’re getting mixed
signals, like some pages return a 200, which is an OK,
while other pages return a permanent or 301 redirect, then
we really don’t know what to make of that. I’ve certainly seen some
situations recently where a site said, I moved from
olddomain.com to newdomain.com, but they forgot
to do a subdomain. And so they were still serving
200s on the old subdomain. So it’s definitely not the case
that you can assume, oh, everything will automatically,
magically work perfectly. We do have a tool in Google
Webmaster Tools where you can say, my site has moved
from here to here. So you can do that for the
301s on each page level. But I wouldn’t just assume it
only has to be crawled once. Really, Googlebot and Google
need to build up enough confidence to really know that a
site has fully migrated from the old site to the new site. So it can take a little while,
but hopefully, after a while, we do pick up on that.

14 Comments

  • Ryan Ireland

    Is there any penalty for old 301's? That wasn't addressed in this video, but I can't see a reason to take down a 301 redirect on a page level (domains are another issue).

  • ianvisits

    The simple answer should be "as long as possible" as you are not just talking about Google search results, but clicks-in from outside websites that linked to content on old-site.com and they wont know you changed your website in a way that breaks their links.

  • Jeff Yablon

    I have to agree with Porretz and ianvisits; Search Engine "Awareness" isn't the whole story; any existing link juice you have has be be maintain/curated.

    That said: assuming you maintain ownership of the old domain and redirect things on a page-level rather than a site level, the question doesn't matter; a correctly-formatted 301 will pass the juice where you want it/it belongs

  • Peter Lauge

    It's very important that you never give up the old domain. Because the you're able to 301 all incoming link from the old domain to the new domain. If there are any.
    And maybe someone bookmarked the old domain.

    So I would keep the 301 for years and look into my Analytics for old 301's from the old domain, before I skip the old domain or use it for something else.

    🙂

  • vesogry

    Hello Matt
    I have a problem. I made 301 redirect from mydomain.pl to mydomain.eu. After a while all my traffic moved from pl to eu. I have a few high ranked keywords, some of them on first position, but yesterday, I can find only 3 keywords, on positions 70, 80. I don't use black SEO. Is this permanent, have my website got filter and how i can check this.

  • vesogry

    Now, I lost all my positions in google. I made 301 redirect and every position vanished. I've read on forum that positions can come back after 6 (sic!) months . Don't redirect if you don't have to. There also might be a problem, bacause I redirected from mysite.pl to mysite.eu(slash)pl. It really sucks, because this was my main client source and now it's very difficult to make enough profit.

  • weRescorts™

    Like to know, Can you remove 301 redirects files, that are no longer in use from your server ? If so how long would you wait for ? 🙂 

  • anbu devilhunter

    i redirected properly from old to new but your webmaster shows 1000 of links from my old website i used disavow tool too, But you removed my website from search rankings and gave me site wide match pure spam this is real bad 🙁 it hurts a lot, how 301 redirect will become as backlink? please solve my problem

  • robertoamarillas

    Please, an stupid question, the content in my olddomain.com should be deleted? Or leave it there? For how long since i did the redirection 301 to my newdomain.com

    Currently both installations are serving the same exact content, but I think that could create some duplicate content warning in Google

    Hope you can help me with this question 🙂

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