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We have a live streaming site. Each user has a "profile page" (example.com/username), that contains biographical information and links to their past broadcasts. This is what we want Google to index.

However, if the user is live when you visit their page, we redirect you their current broadcast (example.com/username/broadcastid).

This behavior is ideal for users, because the broadcast is usually why they are visiting the page (they can also click through to the profile if they wish, but most don't). Broadcasters often simply share their username on social media, so the bulk of traffic initially arrives on the profile URL, rather than the broadcast URL.

The issue is that to a search engine, this could be seen as a "Sneaky Redirect" (https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/2721217?hl=en). Worse, Google may think it is a permanent redirect, and index the broadcast page instead of the content-rich profile page.

One solution would be to not redirect and require the visitor to click through to the broadcast. But this would degrade the user experience for the sake of SEO.

We could also detect the search engine, and not redirect them, but that could be considered cloaking.

Note: We can't use a server-side 302 redirect due to caching, and the real time nature of live broadcasts. We use AngularJS, which checks if the user is live and performs the redirect.

Is their any precedent for this type of content? What is the best practice?

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Javascript redirect: Yes this will hurt SEO as this would be considered as a sneaky redirect.

301 permanent redirect from backend: will hurt it badly as you are giving an indication to crawler that you are moving your page example.com/username/example.com/username/broadcastid/ which is wrong and you will lose your ranking on main profile page.

I would like to post a suggestion to your use-case:

On the page: example.com/username

If a broadcast is available you can open that in a iframe or embed that as an video on the above page only + give an option to user upfront (clearly visible) to get a better view by clicking on that and take user to → example.com/username/broadcastid/

Hence you are not missing opportunity to showcase live / current content to user + giving user a better opportunity to get a high resolution / may be a full screen content by taking them to broadcast page if required.

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Best practice is to use 302 redirect. If you are using JS redirects then the usual JS redir considerations apply.

In general it will hurt. How much? That's difficult to say, but for most websites an importance of google indexing user profile pages is marginal. However if you find them to be essential for your website at a very least make sure that when your redirect is live - one of the first links crawler can see is one to the page with a live stream.

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