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How long to keep 301 redirect

after SEs have indexed new site structure

     
3:43 pm on Mar 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

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A month back, I had redesigned my site and had to change many filenames to comply with the growing size of the site. Made some new directories and sorted out files from here and there to their proper locations.

Added 301 redirect (RedirectMatch) for all the changes made to files and directories. All of my pages are pure html and no dynamic pages at all.

Google, MSN and Yahoo have indexed the newly created site structure with ease.

Therefore, now the question is for how long I should keep the 301 redirect in my htaccess as it has become very large to maintain.

Is it fine to remove all the redirect entries as all the major SEs have the new site structure, or should I have to keep it forever?

7:16 am on Mar 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Hi
Even I do have a similar sort of query, I have recently changed from 302 to 301 to avoid all the cannonicalization issues, to explain it :
for the home page:
[mydomain.com...] only this particular url existed in the index
But all the internal pages existed without a www, i.e. [mydomain.com...] and so on.
Now there was a 302 temporary redirect to all the internal pages to [mydomain.com...] I changed it too a server side 301.
Now what should be the consequences, the index in due course be updated and should drop the previous url and show the [mydomain.com...] instead of [mydomain.com...]
If so after how long and if not then what?
Thanks :) :)
1:16 pm on Mar 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I thought i was alone!

WebmasterWorld Community please help.

1:54 pm on Mar 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I think the standard answer is "as long as possible." If you have people deep-linking into your site it is much better to redirect them than give them a "page not found" error.
4:46 pm on Mar 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Forever... Especially Google will not forget old links / old URLs and every once in a while they check these old garbage links ...
4:53 pm on Mar 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I'm with the others... A link is forever, not just for Christmas.

Certainly a month is nowhere near long enough. Sorry if the htaccess file is too large. Is that a problem for the site performance? If you need to get rid of some, aim for all the pages nobody ever read anyway on the old site I guess. But I'd leave it there for a long long time.

12:37 am on Apr 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I'd have to agree with forever as well.

I moved a few pages, 301'd then removed the 301's from the htaccess after about 6 months or so. I started losing the new pages in a few engines again, some even reverted back to listing the old urls.

When I re-added the 301's, my site plummeted even for my own domain name.

I can't be 100% sure that was the cause, but it certainly seems it.

The safest bet seems to be to leave them in forever.

1:44 am on Apr 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Hi

I recently did the same on a site I have taken over and left up the old directory structure. eg there was a directory called "pages" so all it contains now is a .htacess file full of redirects. It takes up very little space and is very usefull for bookmarks, external links etc. Being in a different directory I don't have to worry about it, if I ever do forget what it's there for it'll be years down the road and it probably won't be missed much by then anyway. Are you able to split out the file into smaller ones? Saves maintainance headaches and keeps the site fast,

hth

Andy

2:00 am on Apr 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

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forever, if at all practical. Since there is objectivel no particular reason to ever remove it, why remove it? Keep all the inbound links you had, running the 301 costs you nothing, it's just one more rule in rewrite that only executes if the page is requested, which it will almost never be.

There is no benefit from removing the 301, and there may be a long term benefit, so why risk it?

3:18 am on Apr 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Thank you all for sharing your experiences and citing examples. I am very much convinced to keep all of my 301 redirects forever.

RedAndy, that was a good suggestion but I have just couple of move directories and large number of files name changed. Anyway, I have a single htaccess and I am going to keep all the redirects.

4:15 pm on Apr 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Forever is a bit long ;)

I think the community feels that you need to keep these 301s in place until the search engine of interest (Google in this case) understands completly what is going on.

On the other hand, some links are out there "forever." So the other rule would be to keep them as long as you want credit for th link.

4:17 pm on Apr 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Sorry, I should have added this too...

If you're worried about the size of your .htaccess, make sure you're being as efficient as possible with your rules. Jim over in the Apache section is great.

4:52 pm on Apr 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

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BillyS, i got your point.

And about consulting Jim (no doubt, he is a real master in Apache) i already did that and he helped me shrunk my htaccess file by half. Thank you BillyS and to Jim also.

8:32 pm on Apr 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I would normally have said "forever" too, but I'll go with this:

Keep the redirect in place until about a year after the very last time you see any user, bot, or agent requesting any of the old URLs. That will mean you have no incoming links to those old URLs, all search engines have forgotten about them too; and none of your visitors have anything bookmarked either.

It should be easy to grep out all the requests that result in "301" from your logs and keep an eye on it.

8:39 pm on Apr 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

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That will mean you have no incoming links to those old URLs.

This is why the forever is suggested. It's going to be difficult to get all those incoming links updated.

That's why it is important to be Proactive instead of Reactive when it comes to site architecture and URI structure. I cringe anytime I have to change a web address. It happens and, the best thing to do is prepare and try to avoid it if at all possible. Once those inbound links are established, trying to un-establish them is next to impossible. ;)

10:53 pm on Apr 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

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> about a year after the very last time you see
> any user, bot, or agent requesting any of the
> old URLs

aka forever, as others have noted. Even the bots of the big 3 are showing upo and dutifully following the 301 they followed last month, and the month before and the month before ....... and the month before and the month before .... and the month before and the ....
(well beyond 2 years each. I now accept that certain lines will more likely than not remain in htaccess for as long as the site exists.

5:52 am on Apr 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

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301 - moved permamently

This should update in the SERP's to the new url as it did with mine. After about 6 months if there are still requests coming in for the old URL it will be because the bot is finding you through a link (to the old URL ) from another site, you have to find out who is linking to that old URL and send them an e-mail. Make sure you have no IBL's referring the bots to the redirect. Then the 301 - moved permanently should kick in and the bots will stop requesting it.
After 6 months of no requests for the old URL then switch it to 410 - gone. This will kill them once and for all. After 6 months of 410 then you can remove them too.
It is the old IBL's to the redirect that keep them alive. The SERP's (esp smart little googlebot) know what 301 means.

 

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