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There is another problematic scenario -- when there's a chain of more than one 301 redirect involved. If the established page was already receiving a 301 from an even earlier url, then a second 301 seems to lose the backlink influence that's still pointed to the very first url. This also applies to a chain of redirects that involve a no-www to with-www canonical correction.
If the established page was already receiving a 301 from an even earlier url, then a second 301 seems to lose the backlink influence that's still pointed to the very first url.
1) Does this apply forever? (i.e. what if a 2nd 301 is used a year after the first one was used).
2) Is there a recommended practice: e.g., in such a "time-extended chain", should an old (original) ref be dropped (if we're using the same example) and a 404 be served (after some period of time)?
3) Given the possible loss in ranking, would there be an even worse penalty if one were to "undo" recent 301's? (i.e. go back to the way things were.)
4) If a site, over time, has evolved with such chained 301's, would using/submitting under sitemaps be of any benefit?
In our case, whenever we had to redirect after an "original redirect", we did break the chain down to individual (unchained) re-directs to the new target as suggested.
Is there any evidence of a penalty if redirects are done in this manner. Should the "oldest" re-directs be deleted after a period of time (say a year), or should they be retained forever?.