What is a 301 redirect? Whenever you send users going to one url to a different url you specify, that’s called a 301 redirect. There are actually a few different kinds of redirects, but they are not called a 301 and aren’t really useful for basic SEO. However if SEO or web development is in your future, it would be wise to learn more about each of the 9 different redirects. 301 redirects can be considered an on page SEO factor, since website owners have direct control over their optimization.
301 redirects are important for SEO for a few reasons, mainly to prevent issues with:
- Searchbot Crawling
- Website Indexing
- User Click Thru Rate
- Keyword Rankings
- Organic Traffic
- Goal Completions
301 Redirect Chains Create Crawl Issues
What is a redirect chain? When users goto URL A, but are sent to URL B, and then URL C and so on, that is a redirect chain. This will happen faster than the user can see, however can still cause issues in the long run. Older websites will have very long redirect chains, and the issue is that it adds time to the page load speed as well as presents weak points for future searchbot crawling.
There can be a few reasons redirect chains happen:
- Over time urls can easily change – When URL A redirects to URL B, and URL B is later on changed, that is the start of a redirect chain, when URL B is then redirected to URL C.
- No server rules to define one domain variation – Not defining a specific domain variation can result in costly website indexing issues in the future. Anytime a website redesign, migration of databases, or relaunches, ALWAYS make sure redirects are built in series instead of in parallel.
- https:// and http://
- www and non-www
- trailing slash and non-trailing slash
301 Redirect Loops Might As Well Be 404 Pages
When a URL A redirects to URL B and URL B also redirects to URL A, that is a redirect loop. This happens more from 301 redirect chains and urls being removed over time from a chain, without doing a proper 301 redirection audit. Using a website crawling, redirect chains can be exported into excel or google sheets to look for any long redirect chains and also any 301 loops.
301 redirection loops are an issue for website indexing due to the fact that act like 404 pages. The user and searchbots see a blank white page, nothing more. That’s a hit to the over all website crawl budget and not a good start for SEO. Fixing redirect loops by removing the bad urls no longer needed and shortening redirect chains are the only way to fix 301 loops. Time is of the essence when it comes to redirect loops, as any hit to website crawl budget is a hit to website indexing and overall organic traffic.