Many businesses use 301 redirects as a convenient way to shift a link’s destination from one URL to another. Maybe you’ve changed your URL structure on your website, or perhaps you’ve shifted your business to a new domain. Whatever the case, it’s an SEO-friendly way to protect your inbound links.
However, the SEO benefits stop short when you use chain redirects.
What Is a Chain Redirect?
A redirect chain occurs when you use multiple redirects for one original destination URL. For instance, destination A redirects to destination B, which gets redirected to destination C, and so on. There are plenty of legitimate reasons to use chain redirects, but unfortunately, they’re not necessarily healthy for your website’s search engine rankings.
You’ll confuse the Google bot if you use multiple redirects or if you mix up different types of redirects. For instance, a 301 redirect that ends in a 302 redirect could stop the bot cold and leave your site or page unindexed.
Why Are Chain Redirects a Problem?
Web development teams are often tasked with unraveling numerous chain redirects to fix a website’s SEO.
While a 301 redirect doesn’t dilute your SEO on its own, multiple redirects can have a negative impact on your Google rankings.
For one thing, Google has trouble crawling through multiple redirects, as do other search engines. Furthermore, they’re unlikely to travel through five or six hubs because it takes extra time and resources.
However, other side effects of redirects can also destroy your SEO efforts and reduce the quality of the UX (user experience). For instance, the added time necessary to process multiple redirects will slow down page loading speed. Users will have to wait longer for your site to pop up in their browsers.
You’ll also notice that inbound links become devalued. Since the search engines can’t always determine the original purpose of the link (or its ultimate destination), the link loses its SEO juice.
How Can You Find Chain Redirects?
You can manually search for chain redirects, but when your site has thousands of page that date back many years, this strategy proves problematic.
The best way to find chain redirects is to leverage a tool like Screaming Frog, which now generates reports on chain redirects. It’s a quick and easy audit tool that allows you to instantly identify problem areas so you can fix them.
How Do You Remedy Chain Redirects?
When you know you have multiple 301 redirects, you can start fixing them. Ideally, you’ll want to map each original inbound URL to its final destination. Instead of allowing a link to travel from A to B to C to D, you’ll want A to lead to D, B to lead to D, and C to lead to D.
This way, you skip over the multiple destination hubs so destination D loads faster and Google’s bot can find it.
Boosting your SEO can have lasting benefits for your business. If you suspect you have chain redirects hiding in your website’s code, now’s the time to audit and fix them. You can also look for other ways to gain more market share and supercharge your online advertising strategy. For expert insight, read our case study: Helping Travelstore Become An Online Entity.