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I've been looking for documentation on how the Microsoft and Google bots interpret 301 redirects.

It seems that google-bot stores documents on a url based index system. But I haven't been able to figure out how bing works. Should I assume that they are still working towards coping everyone else and assume they use an algorithm close to google?

Is it best to just forward a page to a new location via Javascript? I think this might be a blackhat trick, but how would I tell the bots that it's not?

Is 301 redirect my best option and I just have to bit the bullet because said pages are no longer in existence?

What other options do I have that I might not be aware of?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Never redirect like this using JavaScript. It's bad for a variety of reasons. Stick to the standards and send a 301 redirect via an HTTP header. Otherwise you risk sending the wrong message, or no message, to the search engine and then you run the risk of being de-indexed, penalized, or somehow losing value that you have rightly accrued (e.g. link popularity).

All you can do is to do things the right way and then hope anyone interacting with your site is doing things the right way, too. If they aren't you can try to accommodate them if you know what they are doing wrong but always default to the right way first. That way you are future proof and cover the majority of use cases.

FYI, found this about Bing and 301 redirects

Bing will (eventually) deindex pages that have been 301ed and re-index the new page.

Google will de-index the original page and index the new page and transfer most of the PageRank and other value the original page accrued over time. A small amount of that value is lost when the redirect is done. Probably to prevent abuse of the system.

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