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6 Redirect bugs that could ruin your site’s traffic

6 Redirect bugs that could ruin your site's traffic

Redirects are a natural part of a website’s development.

You can create a service page or blog post that is relevant today. But there may come a time in the future when it no longer makes sense to keep it alive.

So what are you doing? Redirect it to a similar page on your site.

If you migrate a site or change the structure of your site, you could have dozens of redirects in place.

Wait. What is a redirect?

A redirect is a way of forwarding one URL to another. For example, let’s say you sell widgets and have multiple pages:

If you no longer sell only blue or white widgets, or if you want to combine all the pages into one, you can redirect your blue and white widget pages to your main widget page.


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This helps keep your site organized, which requires fewer clicks to land on a page and allows you to focus all your optimization efforts on one page instead of many.

You can choose to use many types of redirects – 301, 302, 307, 308 – and you can perform a redirect using a meta update, JavaScript, HTTP headers and others.

To learn more about the different types of redirects, see the technical SEO guide for redirects.

Redirect errors that could hurt your site’s traffic

Any type of redirect or method used to redirect can be beneficial to your site’s traffic and SEO – or it can cause traffic and rankings to drop.

This is one of the areas where even a simple mistake can have major consequences for the traffic of your site.

Be sure to avoid these redirection errors and beware of them if you experience a traffic drop.

1. Redirect everything to your website

Mass redirects to the website

Redirecting each page to your homepage in an attempt to rank for competitive terms may do more harm than good. Google’s John Mueller talked about this a couple of years ago:


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“Redirecting everything to just the website is a really bad practice because we lose all the signals associated with the old content.”

He explains that when many pages redirect to your homepage, it is a red flag for search crawlers.

What can happen?

Google does not see all the positive signals you had built up on the old URLs. The value of this content is lost.

2. Redirect loops that never end

Redirect loops

A redirection loop can be easily avoided by having each new redirection tested. These loops occur when you redirect pages like this:

Page 1> Page 2> Page 3> Page 1

In this case, redirection will continue to bring the person back to page 1 and will most likely be stopped by your browser, which recognizes the loop. From a search crawler perspective, you would probably have indexed the pages because the crawler has no idea what is going on.

If these pages are the main lead pages or generate a lot of traffic to your site, you will lose a lot of revenue in the process.

Sending crawlers through redirect chain nightmares

Redirect chains

Do you want to lower the user experience and influence the ranking of your site? Create redirect chains. These happen a lot, and if you have several people working on your site, they are pretty easy to set up.


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Multiple redirects take place in a chain.


/ about redirected to / aboutus / aboutus redirected to / our company / our company redirected to / about our company

You want to create a single redirect from / about to / about our company to avoid a redirect chain that can:

Slow speeds on site. Increase the bounce rate.

Tip: If you go down to tip 6, you will find a safe way to avoid these nightmares with the diversion chain.

4. To forget that case sensitivity is important

Case sensitivity matters when writing your redirection rules.

Fortunately, John Mueller tweeted “URLs are uppercase and lowercase, but choose which case you want.”


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URLs are uppercase and lowercase, but select the desired case.

– 🍌 John 🍌 (@JohnMu) June 22, 2017

You can have “/ about” or “/ About” if you want.

But if someone writes your URL in a browser, they probably won’t remember which case you used or not. Most people keep the URL in lower case.

There are many ways to create a redirect, but many people use .htaccess on Apache servers. One way to help eliminate uppercase and lowercase letters is to use the “NC” parameter when using RewriteRule.

For example, you can redirect the following page without uppercase and lowercase letters using:

Redirect 301 / at [NC]

And if the person writes “About, about, ABout” or other combinations of cases, all redirect them to “about-new” without a problem.

Use a 302 redirect instead of a 301 redirect

Are you already planning or using a 302 redirect? Should it be a 301 redirect instead?


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Many website owners do not think it matters what type of redirection they use because page A is still redirected to page B.

But these site owners are mistaken.

301 Redirects are permanent

Want to let search engines know that redirection is permanent? In that case, use a 301 redirect.

The SEO value of the original page or site is kept in place and the original page or page stops being indexed.

302 Redirects are temporary

A 302 redirect says “Hello Google, this page is being temporarily redirected, but will be back soon.”

You will use these redirects when you move temporarily, e.g. When you test a new design or send users to a new page due to a redesign taking place.

You tell search engines that the page will be back so it will:


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The new page you redirect to will not receive any of the link’s equity on the original page. You leave PageRank with a 302 redirect.

So what should you do?

If the page returns soon, use a 302 redirect. Otherwise, a 301 redirect is ideal.

If 302 redirects are held for too long, search engines like Google might consider it a 301 redirect.

6. Do not keep track of your redirects

If you have a corporate website, hundreds or thousands of pages or work with many SEO professionals, you need to create protocols to track changes to your site.


You need reference points to track changes that were made so you can review your analysis and decipher which changes led to increasing or decreasing traffic.

Since redirects can be performed at page or server levels, it is important to keep track of them.

You may be able to open your .htaccess file, not see a redirect to a specific page, and assume that one is not in place.


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Someone else on your team may have used JavaScript or a meta update on the page and caused a redirect loop.

Tracking your redirects helps current and future SEO professionals avoid common redirection issues that could affect your site’s traffic and earnings.

You also need to put in place protocols that require all new redirects to be tested and verified to ensure that they work properly.


Website redirects are a powerful tool that helps shape your traffic and can be used to enhance the user experience. As your site grows in size and complexity, chances are you will need to use redirects at some point.

Avoiding the major mistakes above can help you avoid costly, time-consuming problems in the future.

More resources:

Image credits

In-post images created by the author, July 2021


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