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When Is It Safe to Kill Redirects & Old Webpages?

When is it safe to kill redirects and old webpages? Here are a few things to consider before you decide to permanently remove a redirect.

Ask an SEO with Jenny Halasz

Editor’s note: “Ask an SEO” is a weekly column by technical SEO expert Jenny Halasz. Come up with your hardest SEO question and fill out our form. You might see your answer in the next #AskanSEO post!

Welcome to another edition of Ask an SEO! Today’s question comes from Josipa in Croatia:

When you are moving site or content and make proper 301 redirects (one to one), what is the safe period after which we can consider all possible page juice is passed to new pages and Google deleted it from its index and it’s safe to permanently kill redirects?

Technically, never. Redirects pass page value indefinitely.

If you’ve moved from an old domain or page structure where you had a lot of high-quality links pointing to those pages, it’s best to keep the redirects in place.

But for some sites – especially large sites – this can become a lot more trouble than it is worth.

The strategy I typically use is to look at a few different markers to see how much those old pages are really contributing to the new location.

Updating Old Links Internally

A quick aside – this process has much less value if you don’t first ensure that you have no live links on your existing site that need the redirects.

Any time you redirect pages, you should always update all live links on your site to point to the new location.

Is a Link of Value?

I look at three primary sources of data to determine the value of a redirect. If the original page has:

  • Some valuable external links pointing to it.
  • External traffic coming to it.
  • Frequent “hits” in server logs (where the redirect is executed).

Then I consider keeping it. But if you apply a threshold for each of these metrics consistent with the rest of your site, you can generally cull a large percentage of your redirects.

For example, if you wrote 100 blog posts on the old site, but moved the content over to the new site and redirected the old pages, and those pages have less than .5 percent of your total site traffic coming to them, and they don’t have any valuable links pointing to them apart from some 10-year-old event blogs, then you can probably safely kill those 100 redirects.

But if in those 100 blog posts there was one that earned a link from USA Today that is still active, then even if it doesn’t get much traffic, you might want to keep that one redirect.

Assess Page Value Using a Rubric & Move On

Build yourself some kind of consistent rubric. For one site I worked on recently, this was the rubric:

If the page:

  • Has less than 100 visits in the last 6 months.
  • Has a Citation Flow (a Majestic value) of 5 or below.
  • Is associated with a specific event (the site promoted events).

Then it was not eligible for redirection.

We collected the data for this in a matter of a few hours, updated the redirect file, and then got back to writing new quality content and obtaining new quality links.

There is a dampening factor on links over time, so you should never rest on your laurels.

You definitely should preserve link equity with redirects where possible, but don’t spend more time looking back than you do moving forward.

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Featured Image: Paulo Bobita

Category Ask an SEO
Jenny Halasz President at JLH Marketing

Jenny Halasz is President and Founder of JLH Marketing, a marketing consultation firm focused on highly technical implementations, specific projects, ...

When Is It Safe to Kill Redirects & Old Webpages?

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