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I'm getting a pesky redirect error from my Google Search Console:

enter image description here

Sadly, the report above doesn't give me much information as a developer about what's causing the error. When I click on Inspect URL, I don't get much insight there either:

enter image description here

Clearly in both cases, Google isn't giving me any elaboration about the trace behind the redirect error, or any specific cause of the error. In Google's documentation, they list four potential causes for redirect errors:

  • A redirect chain that was too long
  • A redirect loop
  • A redirect URL that eventually exceeded the max URL length
  • A bad or empty URL in the redirect chain

But they aren't giving me any insight into which of these may be the underlying cause of the error.

When I've tested this URL via a tool such as this, I've found that the URL which Google is complaining about turns out to be redirecting normally and properly via a simple 301 request. I can't seem to find anywhere in the Google Search Console interface wherein Google shows a full trace of the redirect or a deeper analysis of the redirect error. They only show me the URL in the report - not what they detect as being precisely wrong with the URL.

Is there anywhere or any tool I can use to gain more insight into the redirect errors I'm seeing from my Google Search Console?

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  • When you test it, what is the Location: to which the 301 redirect points? What do you get when you then test that URL? Jan 5 at 11:19
  • Where can I check this Location field? I don't see it under the pages I referenced in my screenshots...
    – GDP2
    Jan 10 at 8:17
  • GSC doesn't give you that info, but you can check it using curl on the command line. I test like curl --head https://example.com/foo.html. Jan 10 at 10:10

3 Answers 3

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This error in GSC is terribly vague and it is really hard to know what they are referring to when you see this in the reports. So, don't feel alone in finding this report confusing! When you see this report, you have to step through and see if you can find what error Google is flagging. Keep in mind, it can be a false positive too where Googlebot caught something odd during their crawl.

Along with WhereGoes and checking the Location as Stephen noted, here are a few other thoughts that might help you with debugging:

When you inspect the URL, what do you see when you view the crawled page? Does the HTML code shown match the redirect destination's HTML? If so, that confirms Google is able to follow the redirect successfully. You can also try testing the live URL to see if that returns something different (with the live test you can see the code and a screenshot which can make confirming this easier).

As another way to see what Google is seeing, you can test with Web Sniffer. Unlike WhereGoes, you can change your user agent to Googlebot and then test the redirect. (You can change your user agent in other tools too, including Chrome but I think Web Sniffer is easiest to work with.) That way you can confirm that the redirect works for Googlebot. It should but sometimes there is an odd configuration that prevents certain user agents from processing the redirect.

This error also sometimes seems to happen because the redirect times out. A good tool to measure this is Byte Check. Byte Check shows you the time it takes to process all redirects within the page load. So long as the redirect happens quickly, you should be okay. However, if the redirect takes, say, more than 150ms then that is a pretty slow redirect. Note that Google has never said that redirect speed is a problem but this is based on my anecdotal evidence working through these problems with various clients.

Finally, you blurred out the URL, but what was the URL's protocol? I've seen instances where you end up with redirect errors due to a "chain" that happens when a link redirects first to HTTPS and then redirects again to the final destination. It isn't a chain in the problematic sense but Google can sometimes report it that way. If that is the case, that is likely a false positive that you can ignore. You could also try to collapse that redirect chain to see if that resolves the problem.

If you can't find anything in debugging, then it is likely a false positive. In that case, it should clear out on its own eventually. You could try to get Google to recrawl the redirected page (for example, link to the redirected URL on a page you know Google crawls often, like the home page) as that might prompt Google to reconsider it more quickly too.

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  • Hi Matthew, thanks a lot for the thoughtful response. I'll try to answer your questions in order: my results on WebSniffer showed a normal 301 request (with Googlebot selected). ByteCheck showed that my total time for the redirect was 156 ms... obviously not ideal. The URL protocol is https, both for the original URL and the one being redirected to. I suppose it might indeed be a false positive. Thanks for the advice about attempting to recrawl it. I'm not sure if that's feasible for the page in question, but that's good to know.
    – GDP2
    Jan 10 at 8:17
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I don't have enough reputation to comment, hence posting as a separate answer.

I had the same issue as the OP. Google has been flagging some of my pages with "redirect error". It's further annoying because Google would call it resolved in a few days and then flag it again - without any changes on the server.

  • I used ByteCheck as recommended by @Matthew Edgar, and it showed that my redirect time was between 150 to 250 ms on the pages in question
  • My setup redirects all www.domain.com to domain.com and http:// to https://. My server setup is Nginx on Linux, and I didn't expect it to show up as slow

After spending hours, I realized that Nginx wasn't the issue. I use Django underneath Nginx, and had an inconsistent URL referencing scheme.

I think the solution is to have a consistent URL naming and referencing scheme. Hopefully others in a similar situation can benefit from my experience.

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  • Very interesting info. Thanks for your answer!
    – GDP2
    Jul 27 at 19:24
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The Google Redirect error report is really something... I think it should be understood, that the purpose of the Google Search Console is not to debug your website and to find redirect errors. So the GSC signals you that there occured redirect errors while indexing your site and there it stops to provide more functionality because there are enough sophisticated tools to solve that problem.

To find and correct your redirect errors, open your website with developer tools and under the network tab, filter for 300 HTTP Error codes.

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