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.


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!