How soon after Google recognizes my 301 redirect, can I take down my domain / website?
November 27, 2017 - SEO
Whether a redirection of one page or a complete migration from one domain to new URL, 301 redirects are needed to ensure that whatever SEO authority your page or website accumulated will be passed on to the “new” address.
The problem with redirects is there’s no hard time frames that we can set our watches to. There’s no telling how long Google will take to re-crawl and re-index all your 301 redirects — could be five days, could be five months depending on how many URLs that are being redirected. With that, it’s best to be prepared if you know a redirect is coming down. Give the search engines time to digest them — the more URLs, the longer you want to give. Unfortunately, if you’re moving dozens of pages or thousands, the whole redirection process can take up MONTHS.
Google shouldn’t give you a set time frame, with so many different factors and unique situations that come with a site migration (# of pages, changes in content, proper implementation, crawling and indexing) that it’s impossible to have hard rules regarding timing for every scenario.
How Long Keep Website/Page After Google Recognizes 301 Redirects?
One question that isn’t asked as much is once Google’s properly reflected all the redirects in the SERP (meaning the new URL shows up in the search listings where the old one did), how long should one keep the old landing page or website up? Keep in mind, we’re not talking about how long to keep the 301s up, but how long to keep the old site and pages that are being redirected.
We wondered if we’re seeing our new page / site in Google listings, is it then safe to take the website down immediately or should you wait another week/month/year just to be sure? We know it’s a nominal fee, but why do we have to keep paying for a domain that no longer exists, much less paying for the hosting of the site?
There’s a couple considerations before we give you our recommendation: Does all your page/site traffic comes from search engines? Are you concerned with any back links or bookmarks to the old site? How often (if at all) do users type in the old web address?
If the vast majority of your traffic comes from search engines and you don’t have a ton of bookmarks, backlinks and people typing in the old URL, then the short answer is yes, you can take down the site or landing page once you’ve checked that all the impacted pages have been redirected successfully.
This is just my personal opinion on the subject (I’ve been doing SEO for 15 years), so I’ll give you my rationale as to why. Basically, it comes down to two factors: 1) Google doesn’t officially suggest keeping the page/site up any amount of time and 2) I am working off the logic that 301 redirects are permanent redirects and “directives” to the search engine, so once they’re processed, the assumption is they should be applied as unchanged, indefinitely.
That’s different than a 302 (temporary) redirect where search engines see that as a URL that they may have to come back to in order to get an update.
All that said, there’s a lot of considerations and factors to consider, not to mention the risks, but if you WANT or HAVE TO take a site down after Google has recognized and re-indexed your 301 redirects, I think you should be good to go. For a great conversation about this topic, you can go to this thread in Google’s Product Forums.