John Mueller had a bit of an update on how Googlebot handles 301 redirects when they are in a redirect chain – where you might get redirected multiple times through 301s until you land on the end destination page. In today’s Google Webmaster Office Hours, he said that the maximum number of hops Googlebot will follow in a chain is 5.
Googlebot seems to be improving with age, as this is more than the number of chained redirects Matt Cutts recommended previously.
John Mueller said that Googlebot will follow a 301 redirect chain for up to 5 hops, and if it isn’t able to resolve a page by the 5th hop, Googlebot will try the next time the page is crawled.
In general, what happens is Googlebot will follow 5 301s in a row, then if we can’t reach the destination page, then we will try again the next time.
Matt Cutts in one of his webmaster help videos back in 2011 recommended 1-2 hops as idea, 3 if needed, but suggested that once you got into the 4-6 range, the success rate of Googlebot following those redirect hops was very low.
He does also remind people that having these long chains of redirects can be problematic from a user end as well, especially if latency is involved. And of course, the lower number of redirects you are chaining, the less likely something will go awry mid-chain.
For best practices, the lesser number of redirects chained together, especially when you also consider the loss of link juice when redirected.
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