What is a Redirect Chain? The Complete Guide 2020

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 final destination URL that’s already redirected.

Convoluted (same for search engines), right? Don’t worry.

Here’s a quick explanation of a URL redirect chain, with multiple 301 redirects status code:

Practically redirect loops occur when you 301 redirect original URL “C” to the URL “B”, where URL “B” has been redirected to a URL “A” before (URL “A” could have been also redirected, redirects from HTTP to https are also counted).

Now you might be wondering:

Why are redirect URL chains a problem?

3 Reasons to Eradicate Redirect Chains

1. Many Redirects Cause Crawling Issues

Anything that confuses Google’s search engine bots is generally going to be a bad thing.

The redirect loop falls 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 to the final destination, the worse it is for crawling and indexing for your site. Google’s John Mueller advises less than 5 redirect hops in a chain for the destination URL, if there are more Google will not land on the final URL. So if you don’t trust me, trust John Mueller.

Don’t forget:

The later (indexing) is pre-requisite for ranking (redirects loops decrease “link juice” and overall web page speed).

2. Multiple Redirects Hurt Your Website Loading Speed

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

Great UX leads to great SEO.

That means your goal should be 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:

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

Here are the results:

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

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

3. Lost Link Equity…?

There’s some SEO value 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 efforts?

It’s much more likely that it hurts more than 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:

Then click “Reports” and “Redirect Chains”.

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

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

If you don’t, then 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:

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 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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Thanks for reading.

6 thoughts on “What is a Redirect Chain? The Complete Guide 2020”

  1. Hi Nathan, Thank you for this useful information about redirect chains. I was ignoring some redirections found in ahrefs audit but now i will have to fix them after reading your article.

  2. In our case we have a 302 redirection, changeable for a 301, in the page A, and a 302 redirection, unchangeable because a infrastructure things, in the page B.
    What do you think about change redirection A for a 301? Could it impact the authority of C in any way?

  3. I’ve seen you around a lot, but I don’t think I’m familiar with your blog,yet. I should start visiting you there.

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