Chain Redirects; Running in the Shadows
Damn your love, Damn your lies.
Oh chain redirects, they’re nearly inevitable when running large scale websites (small too). At some point you redirected a link, then you redesigned your site and redirected that link again. Maybe you didn’t even realize the link got redirected. Next thing you know, you click A, it redirects to B, and well B redirects you to C, and if you’re lucky you eventually make it to your destination D. Well, if you have a large, long running website you probably have some chain redirects that could use some cleanup.
Chain redirects are bad for several reasons.
First, it’s bad for usability, especially on mobile. Every time your page gets redirected it takes precious time away from your page load speed and visitors are likely to bounce, especially if they’re on a weak Internet connection, like a mobile device. If you have a large number of 301 redirects, the complexity might cause loops and your visitors may get lost — another cause for a bounce.
Second, the link’s authority is said to depreciate every time it passes through a redirect. This happens internally between pages and externally (backlinks). You need that “link juice” to elevate your signal that it’s a trusted page. Don’t loose out on that depreciation of about 15% (source: Sam Harries).
Thirdly, Google might just give up following the link before it reaches the final destination. Though it is not given how many redirects that might take. I’d say three and more redirects is too many for a single link. If you have a large website and you’re wasting Google’s time and resources on a wild goose chance chances are you’re loosing out on getting other pages crawled; see soft 404’s.
How do you find chain redirects?
I personally use Moz as their crawl tool organizes a nice spreadsheet for you. You can also look at links on Ahrefs (another paid service), or Screaming Frog. If you think suspect you may have a chain redirect, you can use HTTP Status Code Checker or Redirect Tracker to investigate each link. Or you can hire me for SEO services and I’ll do it for you.
Good luck, and check out Moz Blog as another good resource for 301 info.
And here’s something to listen to while you’re breaking the chain: