One of the most common issues that you can find on any website is error pages. This can occur for various reasons, such as servers getting bogged down due to high traffic, also known as a 500 Error, or page requests that cannot be found in your website, which is a 404 Error.
For the latter, 404 Errors make up a significant percentage of all web page errors. Whether it be a small or a well-established website, there will always be a chance that users would encounter this on a regular basis. These kinds of error pages not only hamper the user experience but is also bad for your SEO. The best way to solve these error pages is through 301 redirects, which helps lead users into the right place.
While doing 301 redirects is a handy solution that ensures you wouldn’t lose PageRank, there are times when it could actually cause a negative impact. Here’s what you need to know about the possible negative effects of redirection.
Effect on Loading Speed
The main goal of redirection is to help lead users into content they intended to see, or to pages with related or updated content. This is a common practice on websites that have gone through a revamp or are looking to streamline their content to optimize their performance. Redirection not only affects the user experience and traffic to your content but having a large number of redirected links can cause your loading speed to slow down to a certain extent.
With loading speed as an important ranking factor in both desktop and mobile, those few seconds truly matter, as taking just a few moments longer might cause you to lose precious traffic. While redirection aims to help users access your content, having a lot of them can cause your website to have slower loading speeds. While having to redirect pages is challenging to avoid, is it best to ensure that you are still able to optimize your loading speed using methods like AMP integration and caching tools which would surely help your rankings.
Redirect links on landing pages is another issue that must be avoided as much as possible, this can have a negative effect on your traffic, along with the process of completing a conversion. Along with landing pages, redirecting most of your web pages to your home page is also a practice that is not encouraged, as it will only confuse Google, and lose some of your hard-earned traffic from the content that will be redirected. Instead, the better approach is to redirect them to related content, which allows the new page to have a better chance of growing their traffic.
While having multiple pages getting redirected can be a regular occurrence to certain websites, there are instances in which redirect chains would be created. A redirect chain happens when the primary URL and the target URL have more than one redirect link. Redirect chains can happen for various reasons, with content and website updates being the most common ones.
While 301 redirects would still be able to retain their PageRank, having a redirect chain will affect GoogleBot’s ability to crawl into your website. If the redirect chain reaches to around 4-5 links, GoogleBot would less likely crawl the latter pages, and in some cases, not crawl the page at all. Link value can also be devalued due to long redirect chains, with each subsequent redirect losing a significant percentage.
If you have long redirect chains in your website, the best practice is to begin cleaning them up as soon as possible, even more so for older web pages that have been redirected in the past, which can hamper the traffic of older content. Optimizing this process would bring in positive changes to your traffic and search rankings, and ensure that GoogleBot would be able to crawl each page evenly while making sure there’s enough link value.
While redirection is a process that helps users and retains much of your PageRank, having an excessive or disorganized set of redirects can negatively affect page performance, and affect how GoogleBot crawls into your website. Knowing when or when not to use the right form of redirection is crucial for your SEO success.
If you have questions or inquiries about redirection or SEO in general, leave a comment below and let’s talk.