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Multiple 301 redirects bad?

     
1:04 pm on Jun 8, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Hi,

I've migrated a forum with over 4 million posts, 12s of thousands of members and just as many attachments this week end.

Problem is I had to use the new forum software migration tool to do it and it ends up like this:
1. First 301 redirects to standard non-mod_rewrite URLs
2. Second 301 redirects to standard new forum links.
3. 3rd redictect redirects to SEO friendly new forum links.

It gets worse when I try to go all SSL as it adds 2 more redirects.

So, total: 3 to 5 permanent redirects to end up with the correct new URLs.

Is this too much? Will I loose juice at each redirect?

My users love the new fonctionalies and design but I am worried that Google kill my business before I get more traction.

Can someone advise? Or has experience with multiple 301 redirects like these?

Thanks
7:46 pm on June 8, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Never mind Google. What about your users? Are any of them on satellite? We won't even talk about dialup which, contrary to widespread belief, still exists.

Five redirects is still well below the point at which the browser steps in and pulls the switch. (Got a notion it's typically 30, though I may just be making this up.) But honestly now, it sounds as if you need to spend some time working on your redirect code. Is it your own server or shared?

:: wandering off to experiment on test site ::

Depending on browser, number of permitted redirects ranges from 16 (Safari) to 42 (Vivaldi), with most at 20 or 21. Wonder where I got 30 from? That's assuming default settings; I don't remember changing any of them.
1:26 am on June 9, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I try to keep it to three redirects. On one site where we're relaunching with new URLs, we've decided to put off putting SSL on the whole site for 3-6 mos till we're sure all the new URLs are indexed (or at least most of them) We can afford to wait.
2:57 am on June 9, 2015 (gmt 0)

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The problem is, I have to mind Google. Spent a lot of money building a great new site and positive feedback is off the charts, they love it. But if Google throws us off, just like most other sites we're screwed. It's horrible to think that doing the best you can technically do will eventually get you killed by the bot.

I can't really put off SSL either, Google started indexing both http and https, duplicating all my pages and now my redirects say that http is the correct version, permanently, it's not...

This thing is driving me crazy. If I knew that the juice would pass along and that 5 redirects were fine, I'd have no issues. I hate to have to think about what Google may or may not think of it while users don't mind, on the contrary.
4:58 am on June 9, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I have to mind Google

Well, I meant it the other way around: even if you didn't have to think about search engines, five chained redirects is pretty ghastly.
5:42 am on June 9, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I agree about keeping it to three redirects... and in fact, if possible, I like to keep it to one or two. Here's an excellent discussion on the topic that covers the many reasons why that is so. It's worth a careful read...

Matt Cutts Answers How Much PageRank is lost through a 301 redirect
Feb 2013
https://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4548792.htm [webmasterworld.com]

In the discussion, I paraphrase what Matt suggests in one of the videos about limiting chained redirects...

Matt discourages chained redirects.... If you can do it in one hop, that's ideal. Google is willing to follow multiple hops... but if you start getting up into 4 or 5 range, that's a little bit dangerous, since Google might decide not to follow all those redirects. Keep it down to 1 or 2 or maybe 3.

One of the reasons for limiting it as much as you can, btw, is that the redirects on your domain might not be the only redirects that Google encounters.

followgreg, several comments you make about these redirects make me wonder whether you're using mod_rewrite at all, and whether you've canonicalized http and https. I'm not an Apache programmer, but you, or someone you hire, should be able to consolidate a lot of these redirects with regular expressions, as some of them shouldn't be occurring sequentially. Conceivably, your forum software migration tool might be creating some problems for you.
10:36 am on June 9, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Whether it is too much or not isn't the real question.

The migration of members occurred very quickly, but how many of the 4 million posts were useful contributions as well as the attachments?

I would weed the old garden for useful stuff to re-plant on the current domain and then simply redirect the old domain with a single 301. Thus removing any potential loses due to changes that will occur in the future that you cannot predict and redirect to old domain to a specific deep place that needs link juice.
5:24 pm on June 9, 2015 (gmt 0)

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redirect the old domain with a single 301

Please say you didn't mean to redirect all requests for no-longer-there URLs to the root.
12:03 am on June 10, 2015 (gmt 0)

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The domain itself is defunct meaning those pages/attachment worth anything at all should be relocated to the new domain giving reason for others to start linking to them.

Contrary to popular belief no one intentionally links to a redirect. So any value you originally saved diminishes daily, until you have a worthless chain of redirects.

So no I didn't say that or implied that... I simply implied there will be no requests someday. So move the data, then remove all redirects and point the domain to a sweet spot.
 

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