Google Incorrect 301 Redirect Advice

What’s this about?

This is an extract from TWIS SEO News & Update 30 June 2017.

Wow. Google gave some incorrect 301 redirect advice, which you can read in this post. It centres around redirecting 404s and speaks from a Google perspective, rather than a webmaster / user perspective.

If you would like to discuss the ways you should implement 301 redirects and the impact not doing them could have on your web business, please feel free to contact me.

#SEO #Redirects #SiteMigrations #TechnicalSEO


Google Gives Incorrect 301 Redirect Advice

Summary:

  • On Twitter, John Mu gave incorrect advice on using 301 redirects.
  • Effectively, he said that if you have a 404 you should leave it rather than 301 it.
  • His advice only speaks from a pure Google crawling perspective,
  • It does not speak from a webmaster / user perspective for incorrect links / broken links / modified links.

TWIS 30 June 2017 Google Incorrect 301 Redirect Advice

Actions to take:

  1. Keep on 301 redirecting URLs which result in a 404.
  2. If linked incorrectly externally, 301 redirect the incorrect URL to the correct one and contact that link-giving website asking them to correct their link.
  3. If de-listing pages / content, always 301 redirect to the next most relevant page.
  4. Don’t, however, imagine that you can hoover up all link juice by simply 301 redirecting from old content to new irrelevant link content. Google worked that little tweak out a number of years ago.
  5. Contact me if you would like to discuss how and when to implement 301 redirects.

Discussion:

Sometimes, Google’s utterances are misleading or correct only when viewed through the particular prism of a Google employee. This is one such case.

The implication is that unless you have a 1:1 replacement for a page, you should just let it 404 or continue to 404. This is beyond silly. It is likely that an old page either has some internal links, or some external ones – anyone following those links would be disappointed to find a 404. It is a better user experience to redirect to a relevant page where at all possible.

If a webmaster links to a page incorrectly, then it make absolute sense to redirect that 404 to the correct URL (and contact that webmaster to update the incorrect link).

John is correct that every site has infinite 404s, but the implication that ignoring 404s is the right way to go is just wrong. Where possible always 301 redirect 404s to relevant content – let the random 404s stay.

More info:

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TL;DR

  • John Mueller gave incorrect advice re 301 redirects on Twitter.
  • Mainly involves 404s.
  • Always be sensible about what to redirect and what not to redirect.
  • Read The State of SEO in mid-2017.

Thanks for reading. If you would like to discuss what these changes mean for your web property, or would like to know how to implement them, please feel free to contact me.

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