Has anyone taken a category of an existing website and moved all the pages of that category to a keyword domain using 301 redirects for better rankings.
I'm not interested in debating the importance of the keyword in the domain, or branding consistency, etc, that's not the subject of this thread. If all other ranking factors are equal it does help. End of story.
Example: GEAR.com take all the camping gear and move it to domain
www.campinggear.com. One issue I can see is if there are a lot of external links to the pages using the old domain that never get updated, does the 301 pass the link juice indefinitely or does Google initially or eventually frown on such a move?
A 301 redirect will pass link juice indefinitely, as long as it remains in place. There is a tiny reduction in link juice, but if you've only got a single redirect it's so small as to not be worth worrying about - the only time it becomes a problem is if you've got a long chain of redirects.
From that point of view, it doesn't matter if you're redirecting to a new domain or simply a new URL structure on the existing domain - it's still a 301 redirect, with the same implications. I've never seen any evidence that Google frowns on redirects that are in place for a long time - they know full well that it's very easy to pick up links, requested and unrequested, and if you change your URL structure or move to a new domain, there's no way you'll be able to get all of those links changed.
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