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How-to 7 min read

How to find and eliminate redirect chains

Redirect automatically guides visitors to a new URL. Cyclic redirection can harm the SEO-optimization of the website and lower its position in the SERP.

What is a chain of redirects

A chain of redirects is not a redirection, but in more than 2 steps. Experts argue about their harmfulness: up to 5 transitions are called not very harmful, as search robots are able to go through them.

But for the effective promotion of the site chains should not be on the site at all. A chain of redirects can lead to a cyclic redirect if it is configured incorrectly. And this will adversely affect the search results.

The reason for the appearance of transition chains and cyclic redirection could be a virus infection. Search engines may find your website unsafe for users and block traffic.

Types of redirects

Redirects exist in several forms. We will mention two of them: temporary and permanent. The code 301 is responsible for each of them: reports that the page has been moved to an address on an ongoing basis and 302, which similarly works for temporary movement.

How redirect chains affect promotion:

  • they slow down the process of displaying web documents - users may not wait and go to competitors;

  • visitors can be warned that your site is unsafe for them, as it causes a cyclical redirection, and there is a risk of such one;
Recommendations for cycling forwarding from Google
  • "steal" the link weight, as links do not completely transmit it;

  • spend crawling budget, and pages can be poorly indexed.

It is worth noting that particular harm to website promotion is the mixing of permanent and temporary redirection in the chain, that is, the simultaneous appearance of a 301 redirect and 302. The search robot will redirect and can leave the page without crawling it.

And Google's temporary redirection is worse perceived in terms of promotion than constant 301 because, with 301 redirects in the SERP, the old page stops showing, and with 302 it can display both the new and old pages. When using the 302 redirect, the link weight is not transferred to the new page.

Temporary redirects are not a good idea for promotion in Google search. The search engine prefers the permanent 301 redirect as the most appropriate.

The robot may refuse to go along long chains of 5 redirects, believing that it is being deceived. That is, he will not be able to crawl the site. Therefore, the page risks not getting into the ranking, and there will be no benefit from it.

How to search for chains of redirects

To search for chains, use checkers or special services. Most popular:

Allows you to see the entire redirection chain. With it, you can make sure that redirects work correctly or at what stage in the chain cookies are picked up - they are indicated by a round yellow icon. The service is free.
Webmasta redirect search
This is a comprehensive SEO audit tool that also allows you to find redirect chains.
Netpeak Spider SEO Audit Tool
The tool is paid, the cost is $ 14 per month. There is a free 14-day trial.

You can also use the following extensions for browsers for checking:

Redirect Path for Google Chrome;
Live HTTP Header for Mozilla Firefox, Chrome.

Once you find the redirect chain, you need to identify the source of the problem. If you have configured redirects by yourself, you should remove them or change them to single ones.

The history of the fight against redirects from the user Serpstat

One of our users found a chain of redirects on his WordPress site.

Using the .htaccess file in the root folder of the site, he found a fragment that is responsible for creating a human-readable address or URL:
# BEGIN WordPress
<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteRule ^index\.php$ - [L]
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
RewriteRule . /index.php [L]
# END WordPress
After reviewing the network status bar in the browser, I concluded that a redirect chain was created. Namely, the cycle of 302 redirects:
A cycle of 302 redirects on site
As it turned out, the reason for this was the disappearance of the root file wp-login.php. And the most likely cause is malware. He had to update the site engine to recover the file.

Eliminating the redirect chain

You need to find out the reason and understand why the redirection occurs. Check the logs to see if these redirects are really there.

If you didn't find it, then look for similar lines in the main code:
301 redirects in page code
If the page on which the redirection is detected has a dynamic address that is generated during the transition, the script itself may also generate redirects.

Be careful when rewriting page URLs, especially when using templates. This is a common cause of redirect chains and loops.


Redirect chains are more than 2 redirects from one page. It is advisable to avoid them.

They negatively affect the promotion: increase the loading time of the content, spend the crawling budget, "steal" the link weight, and can bring the site to cyclical redirection.

You can find them using free or paid tools - checkers. If you find a chain of redirects:
Run an analysis in several checkers.
Make sure that this problem is also visible in the site logs.
Find out the sources, if possible.
Based on where the problem came from, plan its solution.
Get help from experienced webmasters.

This article is a part of Serpstat's Checklist tool
Checklist at Serpstat
Checklist is a ready-to-do list that helps to keep reporting of the work progress on a specific project. The tool contains templates with an extensive list of project development parameters where you can also add your own items and plans.
Try Checklist now

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