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In sitemap there was page a.html which has some PageRank. Now a.html is redirecting to b.html using 301 and sitemap has b.html entry, a.html is removed.

Queries are:

  1. As a.html is not in sitemap then how search engines understand 301 redirection of a.html to b.html and add PageRank of a.html tob.html?
  2. Will search engines still crawl a.html? How much longer?
  3. Is it necessary for the sitemap to have both entries: a.html and b.html for some time so search engines resolve query 1 as mentioned above?
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    There's been comments from Bing devs that if you have dirt (301's, 404's etc) in your sitemaps they will not crawl them. I would not be surprised if Google has similar policies. Here's a good discussion on this. moz.com/blog/… – jeffatrackaid Jul 9 '14 at 17:25
  • Thanks @jeffatrackaid, Its really helpful and in detail discussion. Actually I am worried about exactly same scenario mentioned there. What I concluded is, after redirecting pages to new ones for some time keep old entries in sitemap so crawler visit those pages and knows 301 redirection. If I am missing anything please correct. – Sandesh Jul 10 '14 at 5:45
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    You should not have 301s in your sitemaps. The updates are not instant. If you look at your logs, you will see the bots continuing to hit the old URls for quite some time. It is not as if they process a sitemap and forget their prior search map for your site. – jeffatrackaid Jul 10 '14 at 14:17
  • PS: After a week observations. Organic traffic dropped to almost zero for all pages which are 301 redirected. – Sandesh Jul 21 '14 at 6:12
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My answers:

  1. Search engines bots are web crawlers (like your web browser in some way) and when a 301 redirect is thrown, they are notified. Therefore, they follow the new redirect to reach the new page and know the PageRank must be transferred.

  2. If the 301 redirect is up, search engines don't crawl a.html anymore, that's why after a long time, they remove this page from their index.

  3. You did the right thing regarding the sitemap.xml, you must remove pages which are 301 redirected (indeed, the sitemap.xml file is useful for indexing and these pages mustn't be indexed anymore).

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