When Should You Undo a 301 Redirect?

Aug 26, 2009 • 9:10 am | comments (11) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under SEO - Search Engine Optimization

A thread at WebmasterWorld has a webmaster who is getting a bit nervous that the 301 redirects he set up for a site won't be the best bet in the long run for his end goals. In summary, his original URL was doing "great" in both Google and Bing, with number 3 and 1 rankings, respectively. But about a month ago, he did a 301 redirect and the rankings have not recovered. He wants to know if he should reverse the 301 and go back to the previous state.

Excellent question and something that SEOs and webmasters struggle with all the time. If you have a well-ranking web site, but you need to move URLs, should you do a 301 or look for a way to keep the URL. The answer is not always in the control of the webmaster, but when it is, it is always a painstaking decision to make.

The question here is, after a month in place, should you reverse a 301 redirect? I like the response from senior WebmasterWorld member, willybfriendly, who said:

From my experience it will take a minimum of 3-4 months. Redirecting an entire successful site as you did is not for the faint of heart.

Going back to the old site will in all likelihood only increase the time it takes to get your rankings back. If you are confident that your original reason for moving was sound, then I would advise you stay true to your conviction.

It will probably get worse before it gets better if it has only been a month now. But, assuming you have done it right, it will get better...

I would likely agree with this statement. Stick to your guns, at this point in time, if possible. If after three months, things don't look good, then maybe there is another issue with the new domain.

What would you do?

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

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diarmuid ryan

08/26/2009 01:35 pm

i think it is unfair how google treats redirects, most cases are legitate uses


08/26/2009 02:07 pm

Only reason for 301 redirects is for a throw away URL... otherwise, refresh tags and a 404


08/26/2009 02:49 pm

I've added 301 redirects and then removed them several times and rankings have been unchanged every time.


08/26/2009 02:59 pm

At www.whereisnow.com we developed the concept of evergreen link: an url forever valid, even if the linked page or document has been renamed or moved to a different address. Pro-actively used, an evergreen link assures the page rank retention of a website. How? Here's an example: clicking on the following evergreen link http://www.whereisnow.com/KeySearch.now?publisher=3&document=10 you will be redirected to the most recent address of a discussion "bit.ly vs TinyURL valuations". When a new article concerning this discussion becomes available the webmaster simply update the new address on WhereIsNow and all the pages which contains the evergreen link now will redirect you to the new address without any need to update them. And people can also “Bookmark it” the evergreen link to save an evergreen bookmark.

No Name

08/26/2009 03:07 pm

I've done many, many 301 redirects on both whole domains and unique URL. I have never dropped one single spot in the SERPS due to 301. Never. Maybe there are other issues on the website in question?


08/27/2009 07:10 am

We lost rankings on a specific term, because of not 301 redirecting the old URL. After setting up a 301 redirect rankings were back within a week or two. It all depends on how many external links are pointing to the page, and how badly you want to keep it indexed. Never 404 pages which have external (or forgotten internal) links to it. Don't waste your popularity.


08/27/2009 07:16 am

I too would stick to the 301 move and wouldn't look back: you could attempt to move your incoming links from the old page to the new permanent address - this could help matters. Another factor which impacts the overall transition from one set of URLs to another is your relevance in the eyes of the search engines. How recent is your SE cache copy ?the older it is the the lower your priority ...

Jessica Griffin

08/27/2009 08:10 am

Undoing a 301 redirect is akin to constructing a web page from scratch. I would personally stick it out for another couple of months before deciding to undo a particular redirect.

Josh Malone

06/12/2011 04:42 pm

I redirected a few sites in to a single larger website with little not no ranking drops, but now because my business strategy is changing I would like undo a redirect and one of the redirected sites and have it stand on its own and redirect the page on the larger site that the redirected website was pointed to. It has been redirected for about 6 months. Is this a bad idea? Any ideas on the best way to do this?


06/16/2011 02:29 pm

Hey Mike, you say that you have removed 301 redirects and rankings have been unchanged? I purchased a older domain about 6 months ago and for the time and 301 redirected it into my site. Now I have time and want to use the older domain (5 yrs older) as my main domain. Should I be worried? My main site not has a 4000+ links?

Cesar Bielich

04/03/2012 06:24 am

I redirected my site recently and my rankings are dropping. I am confident that what I did is for the better so I am going to stick it out. Im nervous though :)

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