- Use cases
- Customer Success
- LOG IN
- Start free trial
In the “Redirect loops and chains” webinar on 20 November, Erlé Alberton, Customer Success Manager at OnCrawl, presented different ways to use OnCrawl to manage redirections on your website.
Redirects are HTTP status codes that indicate that the page’s content can instead be found at a different URL. This includes specific redirect codes including:
Note: OnCrawl has observed, after crawling millions of sites, that the 302 redirect consumes significant crawl budget since Google continues to try to determine whether or not the temporary period is over. Try using 301 redirects instead if you’re trying to optimize your crawl budget.
How does Google handle redirects?
According to Google, redirects are part of a site’s lifecycle. They transmit PageRank to their targets, and they don’t cause problems unless they appear in chains.
IMO SEOs fuss too much about redirects. Use the right one for the job, it’s a technical thing, not a SEO thing; it’s not voodoo magic.
— ? John ? (@JohnMu) September 29, 2016
all redirects pass PageRank now
— Gary “鯨理” Illyes (@methode) September 28, 2016
“IMO SEOs fuss too much about redirects. Use the right one for the job, it’s a technical thing not an SEO thing; it’s not voodoo magic.”
— John Mueller
“all redirects pass PageRank now”
— Gary Illyes
“We follow up to 5 [redirects] in a chain (please keep any redirect chain as short as possible), but you can redirect as many URLs on your site as you want at the same time.”
— Explanation given during a Google webinar
However, OnCrawl’s data shows that the maximum number of redirects followed by Google’s crawlers is often around 16.
A redirect becomes a chain when it points to a target URL that is itself redirected to another URL.
A chain can occur in the following cases:
A redirect loop is a closed redirect chain. One of the links in the chain is redirected to a URL that is already part of the same chain. After approximately 20 redirections, which is inevitable in a loop, the user never sees the page.
In the Crawl Report, OnCrawl offers 5 main charts on the subject of your website’s redirects. The charts can be found under Indexability, then Status codes.
This chart has been around for a while in OnCrawl and lets you keep track of the percentage of pages that are redirected (with a status code of 3xx) on your website.
For each redirect type, this table gives the number of associated pages, and more importantly the number of links that point to the pages in the redirect loop or chain.
There are several types of redirect:
This chart allows you to answer the question: once OnCrawl has finished crawling all of the steps in the loop or chain, what is the status of the final destination page?
The chart shows the different possible answers:
Correcting final pages in 3xx, 4xx and 5xx can be extremely worthwhile.
Begin with the 4xx and 5xx (error pages) before moving on the pages in 3xx (these are the pages that are part of chains and loops).
This chart can be viewed either by page groups or by page depth. The version based on page groups allows to you use OnCrawl’s segmentation, which can group pages based on any OnCrawl metric.
A few examples:
In the second tab, you can view the status code based on the page depth in the website. In general, the deeper the page is located, the greater the number of redirects.
This chart adapts to the segmentation you choose.
This chart can also be viewed by depth, so you can see where the pages involved in redirect loops and chains are located.
What to do to manage your redirects
When you click on an metric in OnCrawl, you switch directly to the Data Explorer, with a pre-set filter that lets you view the details for the information on which you clicked.
For example, by clicking on the number of pages that aren’t in a loop but are in a chain with too many redirections, you go straight to the report listing all of the URLs that meet this criteria. You can adjust the filter to have it show you all of the pages that are in loops, for example.
Similarly, you can explore all of the links that point to a page:. For example, in the case of all pages that are redirected, the “Pages pointing to 3xx errors” QuickFilter will show you all of the links that point to redirected pages.
For those of you using the OnCrawl API, you also have a way to list links that point to pages, using cross-requests. We won’t go into detail here, but you can obtain all links by the type of redirect, with their anchors and even the amount of juice that they pass.
You can get an initial diagnosis for redirects even before you run a crawl.
We recommend testing your Start URL before crawling. OnCrawl will automatically validate your Start URL as soon as you enter it in the crawl settings. If your Start URL isn’t valid, it could be because of different reasons:
Start URL is redirected to a page in 200 – Start URL is redirected to a page in 400 – Start URL is part of an unresolved chain
“Status codes breakdown”
An SEO optimization always starts with a page’s possibility to gain more impressions. By applying a segmentation based on ranges of impressions from GSC, we can see the pages that have 0 impressions in GSC over the last 45 days. This allows us to discover that some of these pages respond with 3xx and 4xx.
You can, of course, you a different segmentation to better view additional characteristics of your data.
“No. of pages inside 3xx chains or loops”
This chart provides an overview of the number of pages that are affected. Again, it’s organized by group, or by depth depending on the tab you use.
By group, we can tell at a glance the type of group that is most affected by redirect loops and chains.
By switching to the other tab, we can see at what depth pages appear in loops and chains. But just because we’re looking at depth doesn’t mean that we can’t use a segmentation.
If you have the URL-based segmentation provided by default in OnCrawl, use the second filter at the top of the page to target a particular page group in the segmentation. You can then use this chart to see the breakdown of depth in your site structure for pages in this group.
Remember that a page that isn’t very deep in the site has better chances to be indexed than a page that is deeper. The strategy above helps to focus on the most important groups on your site and on the pages that are placed the highest in your site structure, in order to prioritize your SEO actions.
OnCrawl is based on metrics. And like all OnCrawl metrics, the metrics related to redirect analysis are available in the Data Explorer.
You can add the following data to your reports:
– The target of the redirect
– The distance (in number of redirects) until the end of the chain
– An indication of whether the page is part of a chain with too many redirects
– An indication of whether the page is part of a redirect loop
– The ID number of the cluster. All of the pages that are part of the same cluster are found in the same redirect chain or loop.
– The final target page for a chain and its HTTP status
You can also use these metrics to create OnCrawl segmentations. For example, this allows you to group your pages according to the number of redirects in their chain or to target small or large redirect chains. We can also look at characteristics of pages based on their distance from the end of a chain: 1 redirect, 2-5 redirects, 6-10, 11-20, more than 20…
The URL details explorer contains information about a page’s redirect chain.
From the Data Explorer, you can click on a URL to get more details, including redirect information.
On the URL Details page, there is a variety of data regarding this page’s redirects. There is also a visual representation of the redirect chain. This visual includes:
– The start of the chain
– The status of each page in the chain
– The final target of the chain (in green)
– The current URL
This visual is also available for loops. The page status codes and the redirect path are represented the same way as for chains.
During the webinar, Erlé offered the following advice:
Top SEOs pitched in to the discussion on Twitter to add additional best practices for redirects:
However we should aim at redirecting to the final URL without additional chains.
— Maria Cieślak (@McCieslak) November 22, 2018
Yeah, aim for direct-to-target redirects. Redirects slow things down, especially on mobile, especially cross-host. We crawl 5 chained in one go, and take it from there the next time we crawl. Crawlers are great at spotting these issues for you!
— ? John ? (@JohnMu) November 22, 2018
It’s also key to look for the causes of chains 1) site launches 2) automated redirect tools (i.e. when a URL is altered) and 3) an active content team.
ID’ing and fixing is relatively easy when you’re looking, however it’s most cost effective to address as point of process
— Chris Green (@chrisgreen87) November 22, 2018
Make sure internal links point to final redirection targets. 😀
— Señor Muñoz (@senormunoz) November 22, 2018
My answer is here: https://t.co/rsrXsZLsl6
Basically, I hate them ??
— Omi Sido (@OmiSido) November 22, 2018
Something people do not sometimes think about is redirecting images while working on their website redesign. ?
— Alice Roussel (@aaliceroussel) November 22, 2018
especially if the site has 1M+ urls, crawling can become tricky so we need to avoid redir chains asap by regularly monitoring site health via automated crawl analyses
— Murat Yatagan (@muratyatagan) November 22, 2018
The slides from this webinar are available on Slideshare (in French).
If you’re interested in this feature, it is included as part of the standard crawls in OnCrawl. The only thing you need to do is have run a crawl after the feature was released.
And if you don’t have an OnCrawl account yet? No worries: now is the perfect time to start your free trial!