Google’s Matt Cutts Confirms 301 Redirect Problem…Sort Of

Anybody who has been doing SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for the last few years is well aware that 301 Redirects are a common tool in the average SEO’s belt.  We often use 301 Redirects when migrating client eCommerce sites from their old platform to their new one (i.e. – from Volusion to AspDotNetStorefront).

In his interview, Matt Cutts confirms, as much as Google ever confirms anything, that 301 Redirects may in fact result in some PageRank loss….maybe…possibly.  Matt Cutts, talking about his own site/domain and the use of 301 Redirects when he moved from dullest.com to mattcutts.com:

Please Note: Any and all references to PageRank decay with regards to 301 Redirects are specifically in relation to moving a site from one unique domain to another unique domain.  He is NOT talking about moving your site, on the same domain, to another platform.

“Matt Cutts: Typically, the 301 Redirect would pass PageRank. It can be a very useful tool to migrate between pages on a site, or even migrate between sites. Lots of people use it, and it seems to work relatively well, as its effects go into place pretty quickly. I used it myself when I tried going from mattcutts.com to dullest.com, and that transition went perfectly well. My own testing has shown that it’s been pretty successful. In fact, if you do site:dullest.com right now, I don’t get any pages. All the pages have migrated from dullest.com over to mattcutts.com. At least for me, the 301 does work the way that I would expect it to. All the pages of interest make it over to the new site if you are doing a page by page migration, so it can be a powerful tool in your arsenal.”

Now, after Matt Cutts states that his own 301 Redirect testing has shown it to be “pretty successful”, Eric Enge asks him the following question (with Matt Cutt’s answer):

Eric Enge: Let’s say you move from one domain to another and you write yourself a nice little statement that basically instructs the search engine and, any user agent on how to remap from one domain to the other. In a scenario like this, is there some loss in PageRank that can take place simply because the user who originally implemented a link to the site didn’t link to it on the new domain?

Matt Cutts: That’s a good question, and I am not 100 percent sure about the answer. I can certainly see how there could be some loss of PageRank. I am not 100 percent sure whether the crawling and indexing team has implemented that sort of natural PageRank decay, so I will have to go and check on that specific case. (Note: in a follow on email, Matt confirmed that this is in fact the case. There is some loss of PR through a 301).

So, is this really a major revelation from Google’s #1 blogger?  Or is this just the typical response we’ve been getting from Google for years with regards to their PageRank and search engine result page algorithms?  My vote is for the latter.

It would be great to see the e-mail that Matt sent back to Eric Enge “confirming” that 301 Redirects result in PageRank decay.  Did he confirm that there is PageRank decay, or that there “could be some loss”?