If you’ve read through one of these articles, welcome back. If not, welcome! The introduction is the hardest bit, to be honest. How do you entice people to read an article about a specific technical SEO issue?
If I was writing the latest technical SEO article in a series, I would probably re-emphasise the importance of making sure your site works properly. I might mention that fixing any issues will make your user experience better and make the site easier for search engine bots to crawl.
So far we’ve covered mixed content and 404 errors, so let’s go into something a little less pedestrian. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, marvel and wonder at the mystery of redirect chains and loops.
What is a redirect chain?
A redirect chain happens when you set up a redirect that sends users to another page that redirects. If you’re running a particularly large site and frequently tidy up your content, this can be all too easy to do.
While the user, and search engine bots, will eventually land on the correct page, having a redirect chain in place increases the amount of time it takes for them to get there. If you’ve read one of my blogs before, you’ll know that I am very passionate about minimising load times and delays on websites due to how much effect delays and high load times have on bounce and abandonment rates.
What is a redirect loop?
A redirect loop happens when a redirect is put in place that sends users to a redirected page that either immediately or eventually redirects users back to the original page URL. This leads to an infinite series of redirects, leading the browser to eventually give up on trying to load the page.
A redirect loop is more serious than a redirect chain, as you risk placing users and search engine bots in an endless loop that they are unable to escape or navigate away from.
How to identify redirect chains and loops
This is where it gets complicated – identifying redirect chains and loops can be a little bit tricky (depending on the size of your site). In the spirit of this series, let’s assume you don’t have access to any crawling tools and need to rely purely on Google services and free tools.
If you open up our old friend Google Search Console and navigate to the “Indexing” section, you’ll see an option called “Pages”, click and scroll down until you see the “Why pages aren’t indexed” section and (if you have any redirects in place), you’ll see an option for “Page with redirects”. Click this and you’ll be able to export a list of redirects present on your site.
The next stage is to run these redirects through a tool to see if you have any chains or loops. Again, assuming you have no access to any crawling tools, you might want to use something like httpstatus.io, which can be used to bulk check response codes, but only 100 at a time (which is why we exported redirects from Search Console rather than testing all site URLs).
How do you fix redirect chains and loops?
If you’ve found any chains or loops, now you need to fix them. The good news is that fixing these issues is pretty straightforward. All you need to do is alter your existing redirects so that each redirect in a chain or loop points to the desired final destination page, rather than going through each other.
Need some help?
Fixing redirect chains and loops is pretty simple when you get the hang of it, but it can be incredibly time-consuming to explore manually. If you’re not overly confident with finding and fixing technical issues on your site or are worried about doing more harm than good, why not let our SEO team do the heavy lifting for you?
We routinely perform technical SEO audits for our clients, and can either work with your developers to make changes or even make changes ourselves, so you can focus on what you do best. To speak to a member of our team about SEO support, get in touch with us today.