12 minute read

There is great debate in the SEO community about whether certain redirect types are bad for SEO and, therefore, detrimental to page ranking.

Among the claims:

  • All forms of redirect have a negative impact on SEO.
  • Temporary 302 redirects harm SEO because search engines ​don’t​ see them as ‘canonical.’
  • 301 redirects are better than 308s because they’re better supported and understood by search engines.
  • 307 redirects negatively impact SEO. 302 redirects should be used instead.

So, are redirects bad for SEO? Let’s take a closer look.

Mythbusting redirects: Does your choice of redirect impact page rank?

Okay, we couldn’t get Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage from “Mythbusters” to weigh in on this one (apparently, there was not enough opportunity for explosions!).

However, we did one better.

Who is more qualified to answer the question, ‘Do redirects hurt SEO?’ than Google’s Senior Search Analyst/Search Relations team lead, John Mueller?

In a recent YouTube video on Google Search Central, Mueller stepped forward to provide a definitive answer.

“Search engines have dealt with redirects from the beginning. If an SEO (specialist) tells you redirects are bad, send them here,” he said.

Mueller settled the debate on whether to use a 301 or 302 redirect for maximum page rank by stating, “It doesn’t matter. Use the technically correct redirect type. It can also be a 307 or 308 redirect.

5 ways properly-implemented redirects will prevent SEO issues.​

A redirect WILL cause discoverability and search issues if it hasn’t been properly configured. Here are some best practices to follow:

1. Use the correct redirect type.

You heard it right from the mouth of Google’s Senior Search Analyst: use the “technically correct” redirect to avoid problems.

Use a 301 Redirect for – a page that has moved permanently, ie. where an old URL is no longer in use. It indicates that this and all future requests should be directed to the specified URL.​ Search engines will typically update their indexes to reflect the change, passing search authority from the old page to the new page. Users' bookmarks or saved links should also update automatically. ​

Use a 302 Redirect for – a temporary redirect when the page is down but may be reactivated in the future (for example, a page under maintenance). ​Unlike a 301 redirect, a 302 redirect does not update search indexes or pass authority to the new destination.​

​​Use a 307 Redirect for – a temporary redirect​ when you need to specify​​ the request method (GET, POST, etc.). ​​​Use a 308 Redirect for – a permanent redirect when you need to specify the request method (GET, POST, etc.).​​

​​​​What are GET and POST?​​

GET: Imagine you're asking a librarian for a book. You tell them the title, and they give you the book. In web terms, when you type a URL in your browser or click on a link, you're making a "GET" request.

POST: This is more like filling out a form. It's used when the browser needs to send data to the server, like your username and password, search terms, or the contents of a shopping cart.

​​​To summarize the main differences between 301, 302, 307 and 308 redirects:​​

  • 301 and 308 are for permanent redirects, while 302 and 307 are for temporary redirects.​​
  • 302 and 308 maintain the request method during redirection, while 301 and 307 may change the request method.​​
  • ​​​307 and 308 were introduced to address ambiguities and issues related to the behavior of 302 and 301, respectively, especially concerning request methods other than GET.​

2. Ensure redirects are simple and go to the right page.

If a redirect is going to the wrong page, or the link is broken, you have a problem. Conversely, you also need to be aware of where your redirect chains lead to and avoid complex paths with multiple redirections – as this can make the chains unnecessarily hard to crawl. Some SEO software and dedicated redirect platforms have features to check, verify and correct faulty redirects.

3. Always redirect to an HTTPS​ address​.

Google and other search engines WILL penalize links that do not use the HTTPS protocol and are not deemed secure – which negatively impacts SEO. Both the destination page and the redirected URL should be HTTPS.

You can use advanced redirect tools (such as EasyRedir) to automatically provision SSL certificates, ensuring HTTPS is in place for all your redirects.

More advanced users can upgrade all redirected traffic to HTTPS using the HSTS (HTTP Strict Transport Security) protocol. HSTS was adopted in 2012 and is incorporated into all the latest browser standards. It allows a website to tell browsers it can only be accessed using HTTPS​, which can prevent cyber attacks where a bad actor can attempt to downgrade HTTPS traffic to the less-secure HTTP​.

With EasyRedir, you can implement HSTS to automatically upgrade redirected traffic to HTTPS. This can be a valuable feature for anyone with legacy URLs running free in the wild or for redirects that are still receiving a lot of traffic.

4. ​Use JavaScript redirects​ carefully​.

Unlike properly-configured HTTPS redirects mentioned earlier, JavaScript redirects can have a negative impact on SEO. The primary reason is that they require the search engine to render the page to locate the redirect. Search engine crawlers, like Googlebot, attempt to render every page, but this process may fail for various reasons. In such cases, Google won't discover that your content has moved, leading to a failure in passing authority. Consequently, using JavaScript redirects can adversely affect SEO and should be avoided.

Another reason to steer clear of JS redirects is their potential slowness. Similar to search engines, when a user clicks on a link, their browser needs to render the page to identify the JS redirect. As a result, JavaScript redirects offer a slower user experience compared to server-side redirects like 301s and 302s, which bypass this step.

However, there might be situations where server-side redirects like 301s are not feasible. In such cases, JavaScript redirects serve as a useful tool for guiding users and search engines to the appropriate content. For instance, since JavaScript redirects execute client-side, they can be employed for conditional redirects such as A/B testing or redirecting users to a new page after a successful login attempt.

While Google may not favor JavaScript redirects for general use due to accessibility concerns for web crawlers, they remain effective in redirecting users in specific circumstances.

5. Use​ Geo IP redirection​ carefully​.

Geo IP redirects (also known as location-based redirects) are initiated based on visitor geolocation. While this sounds like a useful way to promote a localized user experience, ​when not implemented properly it can negatively impact SEO.​

So why is this a problem? ​One​ reason is that Googlebot crawls from just one location. Which means, only one version of a website’s location-based content will be indexed.

Google’s John Mueller said, “If there’s something you consider important on your website, make sure it’s on the default content that’s shown to all users. And finally, if there’s any page you want to have findable in search, make sure that you’re not blocking users in other locations from reaching that page."

Googlebot primarily uses US-based IP addresses, posing challenges in crawling and indexing geo-redirected sites targeting other regions. This may result in incomplete content indexing and diminished visibility in search results.

Serving distinct versions of the same content to users in different locations can generate duplicate content across multiple URLs, causing confusion for search engines and diluting your website's authority. Conflicting hreflang annotations or canonical tags across versions can further complicate matters, hindering search engines' understanding of relationships and potentially leading to improper indexing and ranking fluctuations. Using hreflang tags and canonical elements to specify the preferred URL version helps address this issue.

​​​Geo IP redirects are complex and technical, so take your time and consult experts to determine if this is the right strategy for you. That said, many global and multinational organizations deploy geo-IP redirection to offer localized experiences to their audiences across different regions, thus increasing sales and customer satisfaction. For example:​

  • ​Automatically directing visitors to location-specific pages.
  • Tailoring products and services to a visitor’s region to increase conversion rates.​​
  • Directing users to country-specific sites or pages (e.g., example.de, example.fr, example.ca).
  • Implementing geo-based popups, notification bars, or location-aware links for users to opt into localized experiences without automatic redirection.

​​​Be sure to follow Google’s guidelines and implement geo-IP redirects correctly. Treat Google's crawlers like regular visitors from various countries to avoid violating search engine guidelines and potential removal from search engine results pages (SERPs).​​

​​​While redirecting users to different pages is acceptable, serving different content on the same page based on location data can create inconsistencies in indexing and ranking. Search engines strive for relevant and consistent results worldwide. Serving varied content based on user location may impede search engines' ability to provide the most suitable results for a given query, resulting in a subpar user experience and potential ranking issues.​​

Keeping up with SEO is challenging enough!

So, back to our question: are redirects bad for SEO? We can now confirm this myth has been officially BUSTED.

When properly implemented, secure redirects actually improve SEO for your websites. But be careful ​and deliberate ​about how you implement redirects​, especially​ JavaScript redirects​ and geo-IP redirects​.

By using the technically-appropriate redirect and ensuring it is properly configured, you will suffer no harm in terms of SEO. In fact, you can even improve your SEO position, user experience and ​​security protocols in the process.


​​“JavaScript Redirects and SEO: The Ultimate Guide” Oncrawl​

​​“302 or 301: For max PageRank?” Google Search Central (YouTube)
HTTP Strict Transport Security” The HTTPS-Only Standard (United States Government)

​​​“The Ultimate Guide to IP Redirection Based on Geolocation” Hubspot​

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