301 Redirects Do Not Pass Full PageRank & Link Value

Mar 15, 2010 • 8:42 am | comments (47) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Eric Enge interviewed Matt Cutts of Google and uncovered a few interesting tidbits about Google, but the most significant piece of information was that 301 redirects do not fully pass the PageRank from the redirect. Let me quote you the interview from that piece:

Eric Enge: Let’s say you move from one domain to another and you write yourself a nice little statement that basically instructs the search engine and, any user agent on how to remap from one domain to the other. In a scenario like this, is there some loss in PageRank that can take place simply because the user who originally implemented a link to the site didn't link to it on the new domain?

Matt Cutts: That's a good question, and I am not 100 percent sure about the answer. I can certainly see how there could be some loss of PageRank. I am not 100 percent sure whether the crawling and indexing team has implemented that sort of natural PageRank decay, so I will have to go and check on that specific case. (Note: in a follow on email, Matt confirmed that this is in fact the case. There is some loss of PR through a 301).

Whenever you move a URL or a domain name, we are told by Google to use a 301 redirect, if we cannot keep the existing domain or URL. We were also told that a 301 redirect would pass the PageRank. But that is not fully true. As you can see from the interview above. Some of the PageRank from the redirected URL will be lost. How much exactly? That is hard to say but some is lost.

I personally never like changing URLs but sometimes you don't have a choice.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

Previous story: Keyword Data in Google Webmaster Tools Goes Blank For Some


Jaan Kanellis

03/15/2010 06:52 pm

So I assume he is talking about one domain to another? Not internal 301 redirects that done very often through design changes? What about the Webmaster Tools feature that signals directly to Google that a domain is moving? Is their decay there? What about the canonical tag they Google as preached to use. Is their decay there? ...and when i refer to PR I am talking about the back link credit a certain URL has achieved Why does Google say something like this without explaining the full story?


03/15/2010 07:47 pm

@Michael its not really about Pagerank, its about loss of link equity. 301s were thought to lose up to 10% link equity, but I belive this to be much higher. Maybe as much as 40%.


03/15/2010 08:15 pm

But HTTP 301 is a permanent redirect it is not supposed to lose pr, Matt Cutts has mentioned using it in his blog as well if one were to keep PR.


03/15/2010 08:56 pm

Good to know for clients who are considering changing their DN for whatever reason or already in the process of doing so and setting up a 301.

Bill Kruse

03/16/2010 09:46 am

Page Rank - relevant to anyone or anything these days? Who knows? Who cares? Page Rank isn't the issue, whatever metric Google genuinely uses to value pages these days is the issue. And anyway, would we be wise to believe anything Matt Cutts said on the subject? BB

Marty Martin

03/16/2010 03:44 pm

Some of the PageRank lost is probably through the new domain name which *may* not have the same authority, back link profile, age, etc. all of which the big G (allegedly) uses in it's ranking algos.

Levi Wardell

03/16/2010 09:55 pm

NO WAY! WHAT! OMG! Next we'll be finding out that Google does in fact follow NOFOLLOW links. Wait...what?

Josh Stauffer

03/17/2010 03:46 am

Well, this news will keep me from changing my URL structure unless I absolutely have to. Good tip to know.

David S Foreman

03/17/2010 03:21 pm

I have had sites completely screwed by a domain change and proper redirects. Do not change a domain name unless you are facing a lawsuit or are involved in some kind of litigation that forces a change. Yes it probably words 90% of the time. But holding a revolver to your head with one chamber loaded works about 85% of the time -- its that fifteen percent that makes a mess on your shirt.

Arun Gangwar

03/18/2010 06:24 am

Eric, i totally agree with you. This was happened with one of my site. Actually what happen you loose some of your backlinks when you do 301 redirect.


03/18/2010 06:47 pm

Can you be more specific? In the title you mention "PageRank & Link Value", however in the article only PageRank is mentioned. Isn't PageRank different from Link Value? I was always under the assumption (and I know so were many people) that 301s always maintain Link Value. I could understand PageRank becoming lower, but I'm hoping Link Value remains the same.


04/04/2010 02:22 am

Hi, thanks for the tip. Anyways, this question is about a different type of 301 redirects. The popular wordpress theme, thesis, upgraded from 1.6 to 1.7 a few days ago and one of the features they have with the new version is the ability to convert anything to a 301 redirect. The idea here is to kind of use 301 redirects as a link cloaker. Now would that help stop the leak of pagerank as well?


04/04/2010 02:26 am

@ Darren What exactly do you mean by Link value? As far as I know, I would categorize 'link value' into 2; as a means to tell search engines about anchor text and as a means of carrying pagerank. From what I understand there is quite a lot of damage to anchor text value and then according to this article, there is a loss of PR as well. I guess that means that you shouldn't try to change domains of your websites!

No Name

04/14/2010 03:36 pm

There is definitely some traffic loss, I also have done 301 test and noticed a 20% traffic loss on google and much more on yahoo and msn. At least google passes majority of the traffic.


04/30/2010 01:45 pm

If you are moving url, then the 301 redirect gives you the ability to minimise the disruption but google I remember reading a google blog post aeons ago that advised where possible to get people to update the links from the old to the new so... I don't believe it is meant to be a perfect, page rank and inbound link solution - it is really pretty good that it works at all as 301 redirects don't pass the link juice at all in Bing / Yahoo.

Arturas Kvederis

05/07/2010 11:35 am

Well I guess the only way to find is to do a little experiment of my own and check it, thanks for the info!

Daniel Gonzalez

05/18/2010 02:52 pm

I just recently transferred over 1500 links to completely new pages via 301 and when the PageRank finally transferred, most of the 'category' pages came back with higher authority. I suppose in a full site revamp, it's unlikely to see the loss since you are more likely to be creating new content in addition to the restructure.


05/28/2010 09:07 am

I know that Feedburner use 301 links. Now I have a question - "What is better to use: Feedburner or Original RSS feed?" Feedburner links will be indexed by Google faster, but they have some link juice lost... Original RSS will give you direct link, but not so fast in indexing... What to use?

Shelly W

07/10/2010 10:54 pm

I heard that 301s reduced link juice severely. Basically 4 redirects = 1 actual link. Not good.


07/12/2010 08:50 am

i'm scared about link loss, but not in PR .. i just need the backlink and traffic.

No Name

07/26/2010 05:34 am

I love it when confusing information comes out, because it helps us who load names and build a lot of sites and test repeatedly and thoroughly. It gives us an upper hand. I use 301redirects on all sites on initial set-up! Always have, and have gotten to the top of Google with keyword domains instantly, employing 301 permanent address, with effective content, structure, and all the "other stuff". Google uses 301, Yahoo uses 301, even gooogle with an extra o resolves to the correct version, great for multiple domains. The only way to know what works is do a lot of sites, and try a lot of stuff. You just have to stick your neck out and try a lot of new things, for me now it is css3! Do what works for you! Works for me!

No Name

08/17/2010 11:31 pm

Losing links is one side, you also lose domain age which can hurt your Google rankings. Unless your company name changes and you really need to change the domain name, I'd rather just stick to the original name.


09/11/2010 12:20 am

I've 301 redirected quite a few sites and in every instance they lose their rankings after about 4 weeks. This is due to 'domain age' which is a google ranking factor. Google don't tell us this, but if you do a 301 to a new domain you WILL lose all your rankings, IF you domain was previously ranking due to it's age. I've seen this time and time again. Don't do it unless you have to.


10/02/2010 02:52 am

interesting thought to consider. Never knew it will affect page rank and link value. Don't want all the effort to go down the drain.


11/24/2010 02:17 pm

Yes - a 301 is not the complete solution to this problem. You definitely don't get all the PR passed to your new domain...and the old PR shows up on the old domain even after a couple of PR updates. Had to do this a couple of times and it's best to avoid the problem altogether if at all possible.

Hugh Hughes

04/16/2011 07:51 pm

I have a site where we try to offer "free reports", however they have to fill out a small form to get their name and e-address. I was worried that when the bots came around to crawl the site it would show up as broken link because between the "fill out form" there comes up a "thankyou page" and then it redirects to this "free report". So I went and created a "site-map" where I posted "all pages" in hope that this would make a loop throughout all the pages with "no dead-ends" or "broken links" I was wondering if anyone knows more then me and could give me some advise. Hugh

Magic Tricks

06/11/2011 09:17 pm

I have personal experience on the matter. I think it really depends what the new domain name is that you are redirecting to.  I would say you lose about 20-30 percent unless the names are almost identical and of the same age. If you are ranked really well for say magic tricks and your name has that in the domain and then you 301 to a domain name that does not have magic in it then you will lose keyword rankings that were ranking well because of the keywords specifically  in you domain. It will not transfer the rank very well.

Franklin Hughes

07/20/2011 03:05 pm

I need linkbacks as well so I always tag my messages with my paint contractors business website and a few key words here and there. www.colormehughes.com

Franklin Hughes

07/20/2011 03:13 pm

Even though it is a nofollow link google still crawls the text and will see my keywords like paint contractors in marshall nc  www.colormehughes.com. I started my page just a week ago and I'm starting to be able to see where I posted in forums using a combination of keywords, my page rank is nil, If I have a .com that automatically redirects to my isp's free webpages for its members can my page even be ranked? I made the free webpage then bought the domain and linked them. Also is there a way make it say www.colormehughes.com instead of the free web page URL?

Downtown Ecommerce Partners

07/26/2011 04:32 am

There's a lost PR I get. But what exactly? Is it the understanding of what the anchor text says from also those links creating the page rank? 


08/11/2011 03:12 pm

I just renamed my site for better branding and to get a dot com from www.ExtraPoints.us to www.FreeTripGenius.com.  It took a few days for google to crawl the new site.


09/09/2011 08:52 pm

Thank you for this post, does anyone have a link to Matt's direct response on a blog somewhere?


09/26/2011 05:37 pm

I have a related question on 301 Redirects.  Our site is getting top rankings now, but I'm always looking for ways to improve on it.  We starting using a third-party online project management site and the number of projects is growing exponentially.  I have found that by creating a 301 redirect (I create a unique page for each project) I can provide our own url instead of the third party url.  Of course they land on their site, but I can control the url and login information directly (their emails always go to my client's spam folders).  So this works better for us, but is this helping our SEO since I'm creating unique pages  (and a lot more traffic) or hurting because I will end up with a lot of 301 redirects? I'm not an SEO guy, but understand just enough to do serious damage.  


09/29/2011 06:47 am

Loosing PR means nothing if you don't want to sell your site.  Loosing rankings is the thing we should scare.  I changed URL structure often, but i never recognized a ranking loss. Most People here are talking about PR and / or a domain change. At the moment I migrate a large shop from one platform to another - URL structure will definitly change. Will be interesting if the rankings  drop now...


12/02/2011 05:38 pm

I wondering about this as well as I just got a new client who has a domain they have to take down www.21stCenturyMarketingInc.com


12/11/2011 05:59 am

We changed from http://crushblvd.com to http://beautifulpeoplenetwork.com and lost from PR 3  to PR 0. I guess there's a trade off trying to get a better keyword ranking.

chante bradford

02/04/2012 04:59 pm

My site 


03/14/2012 09:27 am

I just redirected my blog (www.palazzopizzo.blogspot.com) to my own domain (www.palazzopizzo.com) a week ago - and my Page Rank dropped from 4 to ZERO ! :-( Any tricks ?

Barry Schwartz

03/14/2012 10:05 am

Of course it will.


03/15/2012 03:06 am

If your talking about Google Toolbar PageRank (i.e. the score out of 10). It has nothing to do with age and is purely to do with links. If you redirect a domain then it will take time before Google updates it's Toolbar PageRank, so your new domain will not show anything. While Google may blank out the Toolbar PageRank for the old domain as it is no longer a website in it's own right. If your talking about rankings in SERPs then that's a different matter. I've personally not seen any evidence that domain age itself is a factor, but it may be.


03/15/2012 03:09 am

Google does not instantly update its Toolbar PageRank so I think it's just a case of waiting till it changes. This can be months. Focus on what's more important. Are you still getting the traffic you had from Google? If so then you've not lost any real ranking status.

Sathyavrathan PK

06/03/2012 01:27 pm

that solves so many questions and confusions I have in mind...thanks


06/19/2012 06:46 pm

This is an old post, but thought I'd pose my question here just in case. I have a new client who previously used www.crystalpc.com ... but changed to www.crystalrugged.com a few years back. While their old domain redirects to the new(er) domain, the old domain still appears in search results. I would assume they have a 302 in place, instead of a 301. The page rank for both domains is nearly identical. I assume the proper thing to do is to change it from a 302 to a 301, correct? The only reason I ask is because I don't want to lose the traffic they are currently getting from their old domain. I'm sorry if I didn't explain this very well. Also, a sidenote...does link value get passed at all through a 302? Thanks.

Business Review

12/05/2012 12:15 am

Now I am waiting for pr pass from my 1 domain to another. still nothing

K.Singh, London

01/27/2013 01:50 pm

What happens to domain age when you transfer domain name? My current domain is over 6 years old but due to change in company name, it has become essential to swithc domain. If I do the correct redirects, will I still get the SEO benefits of my old domain's age?


06/17/2013 04:39 pm

mmm.... curious because Matt Cuts says the exact opposite in this video interview : http://searchengineland.com/google-pagerank-dilution-through-a-301-redirect-is-a-myth-149656


06/17/2013 04:43 pm

to be more accurate, he says that there is a loss, but it's the same that would happen with a regular link (10-15%)

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