This Is How Long It Takes Google To Rank New URLs After 301 Redirects
Recently, John Mueller of Google made an interesting revelation to SEO services companies and site admins about 301 redirects in their video series “Ask Google Webmasters.”
Mueller responded to the following enquiry from the site owner:
“After a 301 redirect, how long does it take Google to start ranking the NEW URL instead of the old one? I did a redirect from A to B with 301, then Google indexed BOTH but instead of ranking the new one, Google is still ranking the old URL”.
The interesting part about the video isn’t the answer to that question, but the truth that Google doesn’t aid its SEO group with local SEO questions.
As a matter of fact, the SEO team of Google has been asking the same question regarding redirects. However, Google’s Mueller isn’t able to directly help them, he says:
“That’s something that even the SEO team within Google wanted to ask us. Unfortunately, we can’t help the Google SEO team with SEO questions”.
Some time ago, users discovered that Google has its own SEO team. What’s more, they have a harder time compared to others in the same field.
Maybe this is a case in point as to why Google’s SEO experts have it rough?
Going back to the query, this is what Mueller said regarding 301 redirects.
301 Redirects – It’s Not the Only Factor for Canonicalization
The site admin who asked Mueller is attempting to have their new URL indexed by Google as the canonical version by setting up 301 redirects. However, Mueller notifies them that Google utilises several factors for determining a canonical URL, and not only redirects.
“At a general level, a 301 redirect is just a signal for canonicalization. You’re telling us you’d prefer to have the destination page indexed rather than the originating one. And that’s fine. However, we use lots of factors for canonicalization, not just redirects… In practice, what happens here is we spot the redirect, but we also look at the other factors.”
Other significant factors include:
- All references to the originating page
- Sitemap files
- Internal links
Google will identify the destination URL as canonical once all these factors are aligned.
“If everything aligns we’ll focus on the destination page. To make that easier make sure that you update the internal links, the sitemap files, and other references to the originating page so that they all point to the destination page”.
Hence, updating the links on a website to point to the new URL is important, and then swapping out the old URL with the new one on the sitemap.
If by chance, a big site is linking to the old URL, reaching out to them and requesting an updated link is essential.
In short, sending as many signals as you can to let Google know that the new URL is the most relevant version for searchers is a must.
How to Identify Which URL is Canonical
All site admins can check which version of a URL is identified as canonical. But first, Mueller tells them what they shouldn’t carry out when checking for canonical URLs.
“Another quirk here is that if you explicitly look for the old originating page we’ll try to show that in search. For example, if you specifically look for the old URL directly we’ll probably be able to show that to you even if we’ve since switched over to the new one”.
Looking for the old URL is useless as you will eventually find it. However, that’s not an indication that the search engine giant views it as the canonical version. You have to utilise the URL inspection tool in Search Console to make sure.
“You can double check that it’s working right in Search Console by using the URL inspection tool there. There you can clearly see which URL is currently selected as canonical. And if that’s not the page you want, look for signals pointing to the old URL and fix those”.
Google To Employ Question Hub Feature In Search Results For COVID-19 Queries
Google now shows a questions box in the search results and has done so ever since it expanded its Question Hub feature. Today, they are planning to employ this in the US, particularly for COVID-19 queries where there is not enough content on Google’s search results to answer searchers’ questions.
This feature has been available in Nigeria, India, and Indonesia. Now, it’s being tested in other regions to satisfy all COVID-19 questions. Some may have seen the box, for those that haven’t, this is what it looks like:
The said feature was tested in 2018 and has been live in Indonesia, Nigeria, and India for a while now as Google stated that there are content gaps across those searcher questions and languages.
Today, with the COVID-19 situation, Google believes that there are content gaps in the search results, even in the US.
Only a limited number of publishers have access to the answers for these questions. All these can be accessed through Google Search Console. This is if they have access and see these queries. And this is what the interface will probably look like.
Below is the official landing page for the Question Hub: questionhub.withgoogle.com.
For the last 24 hours, there’s been plenty of people enquiring whether this is new. This is the sole reason why Google is receiving queries about this now.
It isn’t new, but it is for COVID-19 enquiries in the United States.
The details you read in this SEO UK blog about 301 redirects and questions box in search results came from https://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-301-redirects-canonical/363652/ and https://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-my-business-launches-new-post-type-for-covid-19-related-announcements.html.
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