Google’s Gary Illyes advises keeping redirects in place for at least one year in order to ensure ranking signals are passed permanently.
While Google has previously recommended keeping redirects live for a year or longer, it was more of a general best practice and not something that was known to directly impact ranking signals.
Now we know site owners can remove a redirect after a year and Google will keep forwarding the signals indefinitely.
This is the first “concrete” answer from Google on how long redirects need to stay in place to permanently pass signals.
Here’s the tweet from Illyes:
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).
— Gary 鯨理／경리 Illyes (@methode) July 21, 2021
In a follow-up tweet he points to this Google help document for the rationale behind the one year timeframe.
Illyes specifically references this section:
“Keep the redirects for as long as possible, generally at least 1 year. This timeframe allows Google to transfer all signals to the new URLs, including recrawling and reassigning links on other sites that point to your old URLs.
From users’ perspective, consider keeping redirects indefinitely. However, redirects are slow for users, so try to update your own links and any high-volume links from other websites to point to the new URLs.”
In replies to the initial tweet, Illyes answers a number of questions where he clarifies — yes, when a signal is passed from one URL to another it will stay that way forever.
It takes roughly a year for Google to forward all signals, which is why that’s the minimum recommended timeframe for a redirect to stay live.
If at all possible, however, keep redirects up for as long as you can because that’s better for the user experience.