What is a Redirect Chain? The Complete Guide 2023

Wondering what a redirect chain is?

Good, because I’ll show you exactly what they are, why they matter for SEO, and how to fix them.

Let’s jump right in.

What is a Redirect Chain?

A redirect chain occurs when a page on your site redirects to a page that’s already redirected.

Convoluted, right? Don’t worry.

Here’s a quick explanation:

Now you might be wondering:

Why are redirect chains a problem?

3 Reasons to Eradicate Redirect Chains

1. They’ll Cause Crawling Issues

Anything that confuses Google’s crawlers is generally going to be a bad thing.

Redirect chains fall under the “bad things” category.

That’s because there’s a chance that Google’s crawlers will give up on trying to find the final page in a redirect chain.

The longer a chain goes, the worse it is for crawling and indexing your site.

Don’t forget:

The latter (indexing) is a prerequisite for ranking.

2. They’ll Hurt Your Website Loading Speed

Optimal website loading speed is fundamental to achieving great User Experience (UX).

Great UX leads to great SEO.

That means your goal should be to eliminate anything that negatively impacts your site’s loading speed.

Redirect chains are one of those negative factors that you need to tackle.

In fact:

Pingdom emphasizes that redirects can have a huge impact on site loading speed.

To prove this point, I ran a small experiment that you can try yourself too.

Go to Pingdom and enter your root domain. That means in this first test, I’ll use “gotchseo.com.”

Here is the benchmark loading speed for test #1:

Speed Test #1

By running the test with my root domain, I’m purposely causing multiple redirect chains, such as:

  • gotchseo.com
  • www.gotchseo.com
  • gotchseo.com/
  • www.gotchseo.com/
  • https://www.gotchseo.com/
  • https://www.gotchseo.com

For test #2, I simply used my final URL, which is: https://www.gotchseo.com/.

Here are the results:

Speed Test #2

My page loading speed went from 1.02 seconds to 0.728 milliseconds.

That’s a 28.6% decrease in page loading speed just by avoiding redirect chains!

3. Lost Backlink Equity…?

There’s some debate on whether or not backlink equity (PageRank) passes 100% through redirects.

It doesn’t matter, in my opinion, because it’s common sense.

Why would you keep a redirect chain when it has no positive outcome for your SEO performance?

It’s much more likely that it hurts more than it helps.

Now you know the three reasons why you need to tackle redirect chains, but how do you actually find them?

How to Find Redirect Chains

The best way to find redirect chains is to use Screaming Frog SEO Spider.

Open Screaming Frog and enter your domain:

Screaming Frog

Then click “Reports” and “Redirect Chains.”

Screaming Frog Redirect Chains

You’ll then get access to a report that looks like this:

Redirect Chain Report

Right away, you’ll know whether or not you have redirect chains.

If you don’t, then the awesome job!

If you do, here’s what to do next.

How to Fix Redirect Chains

The good news is that fixing redirect chains is super easy.

Take a look at this example:

Fix Redirect Chains

All that you need to do is eliminate the redirect between Page A and Page B. Then, 301 redirect Page A to Page C.

The end result is that both Page A and Page B will be 301 redirecting to the final page (Page C).

Just rinse and repeat this process for every redirect chain you have.

That’s a Wrap

There are countless SEO tasks you can do, but I put fixing redirect chains into the “quick wins” category.

That’s because it impacts so many different elements of SEO (crawling, indexing, page loading speed, and even site authority).

Plus, fixing this issue is super easy.

That’s all you need to know about finding and fixing redirect chains.

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Nathan Gotch

Nathan Gotch is an SEO professional with over 10 years of experience. He's the founder of the #1 SEO training program in the world, Gotch SEO Academy. And the author of The SEO Entrepreneur. Nathan's SEO expertise is featured on Semrush, Ahrefs, and Search Engine Journal.