Originally at http://tracking.feedpress.it/link/9375/2381571

Posted by Wayfair

At Wayfair.com, we conduct a lot of SEO tests. We’re constantly measuring and evaluating our strategies, some of which were shared in our last post for YouMoz, Accidental SEO Tests: When On-Page Optimization Ceases to Matter. Sometimes, however, we stumble across what we call “accidental SEO tests.” This typically happens when a bad code deploy unintentionally hurts our SEO, and we end up learning something useful from our mistake.

Tens of thousands of 301 redirects

One of our accidental tests involved regularly 301-redirecting large batches (i.e., tens of thousands) of product pages. On average, we found a consistent (and essentially permanent) traffic loss of about 15% for 301-redirected URLs.

In the past, Google has said a small amount of PageRank is lost through a 301 redirect, which is the same as through a link. Now, for the first time, we can put a hard number to how much that loss is.

Structure of an accidental SEO test

Like any good SEO team, our product pages were set to use the name of the product in the URL. Furthermore, if for any reason a product URL was changed, the old URL was set to automatically redirect to the new one.

What we didn’t realize, though, is that our merchandising teams were also busy being good at their jobs, part of which involved changing the naming standards of products on a regular basis. Every change they made was good for the customer. But when the the naming standards changed, it caused thousands of products to change names. This, in turn, updated the URLs of those product pages, triggering a 301 redirect on every page.

<img src="http://d2v4zi8pl64nxt.cloudfront.net/accidental-seo-tests-the-cost-of-301-redirects/5640b608cf9c…

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