301 Redirects Can Pass Anchor Text
One of the questions we often receive and has been discussed quite a bit is whether 301 redirects actually pass on any anchor text. This is an important question, as much of the web’s new link graph uses URL shortening style services. So, we set out to do a simple test… Get a page ranked for a non competitive term using only 301 redirects. It is important to note here a few things regarding the scope of this study.
- This was repeatedly effective
- This did not test 301 redirecting an old page to another
- We cannot measure whether or not there is any depressive adjustment made because it is a 301 redirect, merely that the effect does exist.
- There very well may be special cases where Google does not pass anchor text through a 301
The experiment was quite simple.
- Create a page on our domain using randomly generated text
- Create a series of 301 redirects via short-url services like Bit.ly (we only used publicly available redirecting services) which point to the above page.
- Create links to those short-urls on a few of our properties using an awkward combination of English words as anchor text that DO NOT appear in the page we created.
- Watch the SERPs for that awkwardly arranged word
As you can see, the page ranks for the anchor text we used in the links. The word for which we are searching does not appear in the title or text of the page (or you would have seen it bolded in either the title or snippet provided by google) We have blanked out the linking domains and the word because we do not want to reveal our own properties. If there is serious question as to the legitimacy of this test, we will be more than willing to recreate it using properties we don’t manage.
Furthermore, Yahoo Site Explorer shows that there are no active links to this page, indicating that it was indexed via 301 redirects (which would not show up in the results).
I must point out that the page ranks BELOW many of the linking pages, ie: the mere mention of this keyword in a link on the linking pages caused them to out-rank the page that we are actually trying to rank. However, this is more an indicator of the importance of keyword occurrence on your page and the potential throttling of PageRank passed through 301 redirects. Anchor Text is a relevancy measurement, thus the simple inclusion of the 301test.php page in the search results for that keyword proves that Google does honor the anchor-text of links that pass through a 301 redirect.