Matt Cutt is back on track with a new set of instructional ‘technical SEO’ videos, with whiteboard and all, Rand Fishkin’s style. I found this video (embedded below) particularly helpful as it covers a question that most in-house enterprise SEOs dealing with large enterprise-level websites may have asked themselves at some point in their jobs: ‘will it be an issue to have 301 redirects chained together?’ I am sure most of us agree that it is not good practice having a ‘301 redirect’ chained to another one, but if that accidentally happened?

The video is actually not just about how many 301 redirects you can chain together. It covers some other basic and useful typical questions:

  • linking urls by topicality instead of just linking to the homepage
  • No. of total 301 urls you can do on a site, is there a limit?

but the chaining of 301 redirects and the perceived risk of penalisation is what I had been wondering about.

If you have happened to have gone round asking this question to other SEO industry peers, in SEO forums or in conferences, you will have most likely got the same answer I did, typically along the lines of: ‘…ummm I wouldn’t overdo it and, if possible, I would stick to just having one sequence of redirects and avoid having double redirects or more in case you get penalised….’, well watch the video to hear Matt Cutts’s googly opinion:

On this video, Matt confirms that the Googlebot starts being suspicious on multiple redirect levels when it bumps onto a 4th or 5th sequential redirect. If you watch the video, make sure you are patient as it covers this at the end of it.

“We are willing to follow multiple hubs, multiple levels of urls…at the same time you get too many, if you’re getting up to four or five hubs, then that’s starting to get a bit dangerous, in the sense that Google may decide not to follow all those redirects”

I conclude that if the unavoidable situation of having double redirects happens, if we ever slip, we are on the safe side with Google. The question that lies pending for those international SEOs responsible for multiregional sites is: ‘ what about the other search engines, how does Bing, Naver, Yandex, Baidu, Sezam and other local or regional search engines react to that?’ If you have an insight to share on this respect, please feel free to comment.

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