FAQ: What’s so bad about A -> B -> C redirect chains? And how to fix them.

The problem with redirecting page A to page B to page C, is that it slows down search engine crawlers as well as human users’ browsers, giving people a poor experience, especially if they’re on a slow connection, by forcing them to load extra unnecessary URLs in order to get to the page they want.

How to properly fix redirect chains

The complete way to solve this is twofold:

  • Update your redirects. Redirect page A directly to page C (while also keeping page B going to page C like it currently is).
  • Update your hyperlinks. If you also have editorial control over page A, and it still links to page B (the old destination) you should update it to link directly to page C (the new end destination). This will save search engines from doing extra work every time they follow your link, to avoid haemorrhaging link equity while they’re over-crawling and of course to show that human users are not forced to go the long way round either.

Complications / grey areas concerning redirects

Sometimes when cleaning up redirect chains we come across grey areas which are not easy to solve. There can be legitimate reasons for temporary and inconsistent redirects, for example for temporary content, for personalisation and for split testing purposes. These are important marketing tools, so we can’t simply clean them up, we just need to be very careful how we do them, so Google doesn’t suspect us of cloaking, and so that users and browsers don’t get confused, etc.