Wednesday, October 22, 2008

How many redirects are too many redirects?

A good SEO debate is 'how many redirects are too many redirects'. I mean; if you chain a 302 to a 301 redirect - is that treated by Google as a 301 or as a 302? If you have a chain of 4 redirects is that too many, 5 redirects or 6?

Heh. This is certainly a question that experience answers. I've worked with many sites and oh-so-many redirect issues. It doesn't take years of experience, however, to spot the killer redirect scenario -- infinite redirects!

Whenever sites start chaining redirects together there is a risk, often a small one, that redirects might start pointing elsewhere in the redirect chain. Search engines really dislike that. It's a very bad experience for the users too. What's more; with the now rapid advance of mobile search these redirects look like a slow mobile download and keep users waiting and frustrated. The iphone copes relatively well with redirect loops but some other smart phones do not.

2 comments:

Piggynap said...

Well, I've not joined the iphone generation yet so can't comment on that, but why would you need a chain of redirects anyway? Can't you just point each old domain to the new one? It might take a bit more work but that's better than messing it up through laziness :)

Andrew Girdwood said...

Oh you might have a scenario where the client wants to track how often a link is clicked on; the redirect counts that on web analytics, the second on their ad server and the third might be a legacy issue.

Or you might have moved domains before all this happened... which would add one more redirect in there too.

... and maybe you're redirecting non-www to www ... so that's your fifth redirect.

Rare but I've seen it happen - and worse!