The trouble with 301 redirects and backlinks

On the SERoundtable the question is raised whether you can check if a site 301 redirects to your website, referring to a thread on the SEW forums and an article by Aaron Wall. That seems quite simple to me, as most of the times you’ll see clicks coming in from sites on which your own site doesn’t have a link, and you can just test which one goes to your domain.

It’s way more difficult to check for sites for which you can’t look into the logs though…. 301 redirects can be picked up (and thus affect the ranking) within a matter of days, whereas the backlinks to that 301′d page or domain might take months or even up to a year to show up in your backlink checks, if they ever do that all. (Think about it, 301 splitting still works…)

This is one of the reasons why you shouldn’t be checking just your own rankings, but entire top 100′s for your keywords. If one site goes up incredibly, and another one is suddenly gone, it might well be that the one was 301 redirected to the other… I’ve seen up to 4 sites disappear at once, with their complete juice being redirected to 1 other site, which was skyrocketed into the top 3 on a competitive keyword, from being down in the top 20…

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2 Responses

  1. Peter van der GraafBy Peter van der Graaf on 7 August, 2007

    301 linkjuice is easily traced when you know which domains are redirecting to you. But if such a hidden domain gives you linkjuice, but no visitors, it is prety hard to find out that it does. I once got free juice and only a small number visitors gave the culprit away. I still don’t know why the owner did it.

    If nothing obvious like domain ownership or shared IP ranges links a 301-ed domain to you, a competitor can’t easily copy your linkbuilding tactics because he can’t find any. Just keep de 301 domain under the radar and get enough links to the normal domain.

    Hopefully 301 linkjuice passing doesn’t get changed in any future algorithm update. 301s are so overused in optimization, that things are bound to change.

  2. Joost de ValkBy Joost de Valk on 7 August, 2007

    Heh, if they only started with getting 302′s right…