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Let's say I am a mortgage broker that has an entire neighborhood of houses to sell. I sell one of the houses, call it House A. For whatever reason, House A has great SEO, while the rest do not rank very well. Since House A is no longer available, I want to lend the link juice from House A to House B, since House B is right next door. To do this, I use a 301 redirect. So now clicking on the House A link in SERP will redirect me to House B, with a message indicating that House A is no longer available. Is there any reason not to redirect to another specific listing/house? Can you make a case that it is better to 301 redirect to the neighborhood search page instead?

Going further with this example, let's say that shortly after I put a 301 redirect from House A to House B, the owner of House B decides to take their house off the market. So now House A has a 301 redirect to an inactive listing, which is a waste of link juice. I want to change the 301 redirect from House A to House C. You can see how this can keep going. House C is taken off the market, and now I want to change the 301 redirect to House D, and so on. In this example, there is a possibility for many, many changes to the 301 redirect for House A. Would this be considered negative SEO, with that many 301 redirect changes for the original link? Obviously, I want to take the great link juice from House A and apply it to an active listing, something that google/bing should like, since House A is off the market and not relevant anymore for someone looking to buy. But where is the line drawn? Is there even a line? Can anyone lend insight into how google indexes and then re-indexes a page with a 301 redirect?

UPDATE: to be clear, I mean updating the 301 redirect as follows: House A to B, House B to C, House A to D, etc. Sorry for any confusion.

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The line is drawn at one redirect.

There should be at most one redirect. In your case, that means if house A is out and house B and C are out but house D is still active, rather than going from A to B, B to C, then C to D, you would simply redirect the "link juice" from A to D for these reasons:

  1. It places less load on the server. Only one extra request is made to the server instead of three.

  2. It creates an environment which gives the user the impression that the site loads faster. In other words, a blank screen won't last as long when the page is requested. This can be easily observed if you test your URLs in webpagetest.org

  3. It puts less strain on search engine robots since they don't have to examine all three redirects, thereby increasing the odds that the destination page is indexed faster.I believe google has a set budget in the number of page crawls it makes per website, and adding extra unnecessary redirect pages counts as a page crawl.

See https://developers.google.com/speed/docs/insights/AvoidRedirects for more info on why a redirect to a redirect is bad.

Also, http://www.lostsaloon.com/technology/seo-how-to-avoid-landing-page-redirects-in-your-website/ explains an example of how a redirect should be done.

  • Mike,Thanks for the detailed response, those links had some good info. Sorry I must've had fat fingers when I posted but I meant changing the redirect chain as follows: House A to B, House A to C, House A to D, etc. So if I were to do this, there would be no issues that you see? – sportle Jun 12 '16 at 3:51
  • You're thinking backwards. You can funnel multiple old URLs into one new URL, but it doesn't make sense to redirect one URL into 3 simultaneously. In your example, you can change your chain so that House A redirects to D, House B redirects to D, and House C redirects to D, simply because house D is available and relevant to the no-longer available house A, B, and C. – Mike Jun 12 '16 at 3:57
  • For what it's worth 1 redirect is ideal of course, but 2-3 is not necessarily terrible if there is some barrier to collapsing it down to 1. For example many websites redirect HTTP requests immediately to their HTTPS equivalent before following any other redirect rules. Another example is a link shortening service that redirects a short URL to a URL that you yourself have internally 301 redirected - it's impossible to go back and edit the link on the link shortening service. Search engine crawlers follow several redirects before giving up, so the biggest concern is just performance. – Maximillian Laumeister Oct 10 '18 at 20:32
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The 301 redirect is considered a permanent redirect, and clients (browsers, search engines, etc.) are entitled to take the response and cache that.

For example if you open Chrome and the network tab of its developer tools and request the page for House A, and Chrome receives a 301 to House B, you would see the request for both pages in the traffic. If you later change the redirect to House C, and then request House A again Chrome often won't issue the request to House A, but will go to House B directly. Similarly for Googles index: if the crawler sees a permanent redirect it is encouraged to update its links accordingly.

From the W3C spec on status codes

The requested resource has been assigned a new permanent URI and any future references to this resource SHOULD use one of the returned URIs. Clients with link editing capabilities ought to automatically re-link references to the Request-URI to one or more of the new references returned by the server, where possible. This response is cacheable unless indicated otherwise.

If you know you are likely to change these often I would recommend either using the 302 Found (temporary redirect), or as you suggest linking to the neighbourhood results page, possibly with some note that the requested house is no longer available.

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