How can I get Googlebot to notice a 301 redirect?

How can I get Googlebot to notice a 301 redirect? - answered by Matt Cutts

Matt's answer:

MALE SPEAKER: Today’s question comes from a different Matt. From W-I– I’m going to assume that’s Wisconsin. And Matt wants to know, if I recently overhauled my site and changed a number of URL paths, how can I get Googlebot to notice the 301 redirects quickly and de-index the old pages? This is one of the things where I would almost say let Googlebot find it in its own time. If we don’t very quickly find a URL, that might be because it doesn’t have much page rank. And so trying to attract the attention of Googlebot by putting links on the root page that then point to the old version, which then do a 301 redirect to the new versions, it’s a little bit strange. You’d almost rather just put the links to the new versions of the page, the new URLs, right on your root page, or something like that. So Google will typically find pages and change URLs relatively quickly, but depending on the amount of page rank and other factors, it might take us some time. I wouldn’t go out of your way to really kind of flag down Googlebot and say OK, come visit this so you can see the redirect. Once we do eventually visit those URLs, then we will see the 301 redirect and the transition should happen from there. If you really want to de-index an old page, you can always just remove it with the URL removal tool. And I believe we just not too long ago launched something we can fetch something as Googlebot, and so if you want to refresh a page that’s in the index, after you fetched it as Googlebot, I think you might have the ability to submit that to the index. So that’s a pretty nice amount of functionality. You can’t just say, hey refresh everything. I think fetch as Googlebot is limited to something like 50 fetches per week or something along those lines. But if there’s one important page that’s changed, then it might make sense to do it for that page. Now I’m not 100% sure whether that will work with 301 redirects, or just if you’ve updated the text on the page. So you might want to do a little bit of a test along those lines. But in general, I wouldn’t go out of your way to try to say, hey Googlebot, come over here, just so that you can show Googlebot that you’ve moved to the new location. If it takes a while, that’s just because we’re not finding the links, or we’re not seeing quite as much page rank to that. And so sometimes it can take a while for us to find those references to the URLs and then update that to point to the new URLs. Hope that helps.

by Matt Cutts - Google's Head of Search Quality Team


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