What Are Redirect Chains? 3 Exclusive Ways Broken Redirect Chains Impact SEO
This guide will help website owners figure out if they have any redirect chains affecting their SEO
What is a redirect?
Redirects are HTTP status codes that the content on a page can be found on a different URL than the original created. There are three different types of redirects:
- 301: permanent redirect
- 302: temporary redirect
- 307: temporary redirect that forces a search browser to issue a new request for a unique URL that is the same as the request for the old URL. The difference between 307 and 301 is that a 307 redirect guarantees that the body will not be changed.
What is a redirect chain?
A redirect chain when there is more than one redirect between the original URL and the destination URL. For best practices, SEO professionals know a single 301 redirect should be in place when redirecting a URL. Sometimes there are multiple redirect chains for a few reasons.
Three main reasons why redirect chains happen.
- The changing of older domains over time.
Sometimes with more aged domains, there have been multiple versions of the website due to new web design. A new design and URL structure can cause a change in URL. When a URL is changed more than once, a redirect chain may occur. In the image above, you can see how URL 1 redirected to URL 2 to URL 3.
- Http to Https
We rarely see a website that is not secure. A not secure site will not have the (S) in https. When this change occurs, a typical 301 redirect will change http to https. This is ok for one redirect, but a chain can most likely happen when more changes occur throughout the site. Sometimes a site owner will start their website URL in the format http://yourdomain.com then this gets redirected to http://www.yourdomain.com. In this example, you can see that the difference is the “www.”. The redirect chain will occur when the site owner ads the https making the site URL look like https://www.yourdomain.com
- Multiple blog post title changes
It is possible that you have gone forward and corrected the title of an already published blog post. (This only occurs if article titles are what you base your site URLs on.) What happens is automatic redirections every time a title is changed.
Three reasons why redirect chains are a problem.
- Crawling issues
As discussed in prior blog posts, each site has a crawl budget given by search engines. When a redirect chain is in place, search engines get confused. Search engine crawlers may give up on looking for the final page in a redirect chain if there are long redirect chains.
- Page speed issues
Page speed is essential for SEO. When there are multiple redirect chains in place, your site speed declines.
Here is an example of how a redirect chain can affect page speed. For this example, we will use the two versions of the Algorithmic Global URL in GTmetrix.
http://algorithmicglobal.com vs. https://www.algorithmicglobal.com
From this example, you can see clearly that the redirected site http://algorithmicglobal.com caused the website’s load time to be 3.1 seconds slower.
- Loss of backlink equity
Up to 85% of a page backlink quality gets transferred to a redirected URL. This means the longer the chain, the higher loss of equity occurs.
We’ve discussed how redirect chains impact a website, but the real question is: how can a site owner find out if there are any redirect chains on their website?
Discovering redirect chains using Screaming Frog.
Using the screaming frog spider software, we can analyze a good bit about the structure of a website. Once you scan your site’s URL, you will be able to note if there are any redirect chains.
Finding the redirect chains report:
- Go to reports
- Go to redirects
- Click redirect chains
After you get an excel report that looks like this:
As you can see, the Algorithmic Global website does not contain any redirect chains. But to keep this going, let’s say that there were some redirect chains.
Fixing redirect chains
Say there is a redirect like in an example where URL1 was chained to URL2 and then to URL3. To fix this issue, we need to cut out the middle man! What we can do here is do a 301 redirect from URL1 directly to URL3. You can do this procedure for all the redirects that your site may have. Remember that the redirect always needs to go from the first URL to the last URL in the chain.
Redirect chains hurt SEO. Fixing a redirect chain is not complicated if you know how to do 301 redirects. If you need help or have any questions on your site’s redirect chains, please leave a comment below, and we will respond.