Google can ahead rating indicators with out a 301 redirect
Google’s John Mueller says that in some cases it is possible to route ranking signals from an old URL to a new URL without a 301 redirect.
This is mentioned during Mueller’s weekly Google SEO hangout that was recorded on June 4th.
A website owner asks a question and finds they are working on a website that changed a number of URLs without immediately adding 301 redirects.
They are asking if there is a time limit to implementing a 301 redirect before the lack of a redirect affects the rankings.
When changing the URL of an existing page, it is a good SEO method to set up a redirect from the old URL to the new one so that the ranking signals are carried over.
This can help a page keep its position in the SERPs with its new URL.
It turns out that site owners aren’t entirely unlucky if they don’t set up redirects right away, as Google is able to route signals itself.
Here is Mueller’s full answer.
John Mueller from Google on forwarding ranking signals
Müller informs the site operator that Google can forward ranking signals without the help of a 301 redirect.
But of course it depends.
“It’s tricky because there is no specific time for it, especially because there are different variations of this kind of problem situation that you have here.
In particular, if the old content is still there and you’ve made a copy of it on a new URL, in such a case we will treat these two URLs as part of the same cluster. And we’re trying to pick a canonical url between these two urls.
And it can happen that we switch to your new URL for this. And when that is the case, we essentially forward all signals from the old URL to the new URL automatically, even without redirection.
In this scenario, you probably won’t see much of a difference if you add a forwarding later. The main difference you would see is that it would be much clearer to us that you want to index the new URLs rather than the old URLs.
In this setup you probably wouldn’t notice a change in ranking, but you would probably find that we would switch to the new URLs a little more consistently. “
This may be comforting when you find yourself in a similar situation with your site, but there are a couple of “ifs” as to whether signals are relayed.
Based on Mueller’s answer, it sounds like these conditions need to be met:
- If a URL is changed but the content remains the same, Google can forward the signals.
- If Google recognizes the new URL as a canonical version, it can forward the signals.
However, if the content of the page changes along with the URL, it is less likely that Google will be able to relay the signals.
In addition, there is always the possibility that Google will regard the old URL as canonical and signals will then not be forwarded.
Always try to set up manual redirects instead of depending on Google. If they’re not set up right away, it’s good to know that Google may be able to route signals itself.
What happens if the old page is deleted? Can Google still relay signals?
Google will not be able to relay ranking signals if the source of those signals is removed from the web.
If you delete a page and republish the same content to a new URL, all signals will be lost.
“In a situation where you delete the old URLs and just add the same content elsewhere on your website, essentially the first step would be to lose all of the information we would have about that page because it suddenly had a 404 .
And we would treat the new page as something new and essentially say that there is a new page here and we would have no connection between the old page and the new page.
This is something where at some point we will delete the old page from our index and lose all of those signals. And if you wait too long and add a forwarding much later, those signals are already gone and that forwarding won’t forward anything.
In a situation where you’re deleting things and just moving them to another location, then probably after a while – I don’t know how long that would take depends on the website – you wouldn’t see any improvement from adding redirects .
And in such a case, from my point of view, it would make sense to add redirects there, just so you can be sure that if there is a small value associated with these URLs, it will at least be redirected. ”
Hear Mueller’s full answer in the video below: