pageoneresults - 5:58 pm on Jun 14, 2010 (gmt 0)
So, what exactly is wrong with this setup other than MC's hint at each 301 losing a bit of "link juice"?
Based on my understanding of the Redirect Protocols, that would be incorrect handling.
I believe Google is going to report any chain of redirects as a Soft 404 in this type of scenario, specifically the 301 > 301 > 200.
Anytime you have an additional hop involved, the chain effect, I believe it's the kiss of death. I don't think the final destination page gets much of anything here, maybe you can prove otherwise but that second 301 is where things take a turn for the worst.
Based on what I've read in the Redirect Protocols, you don't want any type of chain, at all. Everything should be a 1:1 with no hops inbetween. The W3 even specifically state in the UA guidelines that a request should be treated as a loop once the fifth redirect is detected. I know, you only have two but it is that second one that is the concern.
301 > 200
302 > 200
304 > 200
No chains allowed. I'm sure someone will come along and try to make a valid argument for a chain of redirects but I've not come across one yet so I'm ready for ya. :)