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It seems like when you 301 a page A to page B, sometime google indexes page A, showing the url in the results, with the contents of page B?

Google "site:http://tinyurl.com/" to see some examples

Is this by design or a bug? How do I avoid it?

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2 Answers 2

When I actually Googled for site:http://tinyurl.com/, all the links on the first page were dead redirects to non-existing pages (HTTP status code 404).

Apparently, what's happening here is that TinyURL detects such 404 errors, and sends the user to their own notification page at find.searchassist.com instead (example). They do this through a sequence of redirects, some of which are temporary; for the example above, I count three redirects:

  • HTML meta refresh (with delay 0) to http://tinyurl.com/errora.php?url=...
  • HTTP 302 temporary redirect to http://goto.searchassist.com/find?p=...
  • HTTP 307 temporary redirect to http://find.searchassist.com/landing.jsf?p=...

Since some of these redirects are temporary, Google apparently treats the whole chain as a temporary redirect, and so indexes the result under the original tinyurl.com URL.

Looking deeper in the Google results, I also found some links to URLs suspected by TinyURL of hosting harmful content. These links also go through a 302 redirect to a landing page at http://tinyurl.com/warning.php, and so get indexed at their original URL.

There are also other weird corner cases, such as TinyURL links redirecting back to another TinyURL. The common thread in all these cases seems to be that most if not all of them go through a temporary redirect at some point.

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You are talking about 302 redirects here. The question was about 301. I put an answer about the 301 case in this question: webmasters.stackexchange.com/questions/55004/… –  Alexis Wilke Nov 10 '13 at 7:59
    
@AlexisWilke: What I'm saying is that the reason this happens with TinyURL is that they (sometimes) include a 302 or other temporary redirect in the redirect chain. It does not, AFAIK, happen if only 301 redirects are involved, or at least it did not back when I wrote this answer. (That said, this is for TinyURL links that have always been redirects; I'm perfectly willing to believe that Google might be slow in updating their index, or that, as Stephen Ostermiller suggests, they might simply be treating the 301 as a 302 just because the target URL doesn't look like a permanent one.) –  Ilmari Karonen Nov 10 '13 at 19:58

Its' by design, when you have more (or heavy) link to page A, A will be shown at index

When you use a short URL, you goal is to "present" it, Google just did that you want.

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