Cast your minds back a few weeks and you may recall Gary Illyes semi-officially confirming how long 301 redirects need to be kept in place.
Taking to Twitter, he sparked frenzied debate with the following statement:
“Hands up if you asked us recently for how long you should keep redirects in place! I have a concrete answer now: at least 1 year. (But try keeping them indefinitely if you can for your users).”
To which, one SEO by the name of Patrick Stox went a step further to explain the whole thing a little more clearly:
“So the main thread branched a lot with a lot of questions but I think this is the main takeaway. 301 redirects really do consolidate those signals (usually in under a year since G first crawled) and those signals still stay with the new page even after a redirect is removed.”
All of which technically confirmed that 301 redirects should indeed be left alone for at least a year following a site move. We now have even more official confirmation that this is the case, provided by none other than John Mueller himself.
Here is how Mr Mueller explained the whole thing:
“At Google we try to reprocess all pages at least every few months. Most pages are checked more often. However, the amount of crawling is limited and there are many pages that we’d like to crawl, so we have to prioritize,”
“When a URL changes our systems need to see the change in the form of a redirect for at least a few times in order to record that change,”
To be certain that a redirect has been seen a few times, we recommend keeping the redirect in place for at least one year.”
Why Hold 301 Redirects?
The reason it is important to keep 301 redirects in place for a year is to allow Google ample time to process the site move. Should the redirects be removed prematurely, Google’s crawlers may not have enough time to identify the fact that the site has been permanently moved.
A successful site move is about far more than simply redirecting an old domain to a new domain. To ensure your site’s continued SEO performance, you need to set up a 301 redirect from every single page on your old site to the new or equivalent page on your new site, aside from the old pages you do not want to keep which do not need a 301 redirect setting up.
These 301 redirects should be held in place for at least a year. Feel free to keep them in place for longer than this if you like but removing them before 12 months have passed could have a negative impact on your rankings.