What are redirect chains and redirect loops? How to find redirect errors and what to do about them.
A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect from one URL to another. Common uses for permanent redirects include redirecting traffic from an old page/product to a new one or, when installing SSL, redirecting users to “https”.
Both redirect chains and redirect loops should be avoided. Redirect chains, often created over time, are when more than one redirect exists between the first and last URL. The most likely cause for redirect chains is when a page/product is removed and replaced, yet a redirect already exists for this item. If you have many redirects, it can be hard to keep track of them all.
A redirect loop occurs when the old URL links to the new URL and the new URL links back to the old one. These are often created when website admins install and uninstall SSL. They can be created manually or by poorly configured plugins.
Redirect chains may not be noticeable to users, but they can slow your website and this creates a poor user experience and could affect your ranking in search engines. Also, is said that only 85% of backlink authority (reputation passed to your page via external links) is passed over a 301 redirect. If this is being transferred several times though multiple redirects, your backlink authority on the end page will be significantly reduce and this could also hurt your rankings.
Long redirect chains could also cause search engine crawling issues and search engines may give up early when indexing your pages.
Redirect loops create a poor user experience as the user is unable to view your content. The pages will just continue to redirect. This not only annoys your visitors, but may damage your website’s credibility with users and search engines.
If you want to check your site for redirect issues, you can download Screaming Frog SEO Spider, use it to crawl your website and export a redirect error report. However, this is recommended for tech savvy website administrators and the free version is only suitable for small websites — as it is restricted to 500 URLs.
All 301 redirects are stored on the htaccess file. If you installed them using a plugin, you may be able to change or remove them though this plugin. If the plugin is broken or if they were created manually, they will have to be edited directly on the htaccess file. This is a dangerous file to edit. One error and your website can go down. If you choose to do this yourself, we recommend that you back up your htaccess file before you begin.
If you would like someone to edit the htaccess file for you, please get in touch.