“Redirect error” is a Google Search Console status. It means that bots didn’t get to the destination URL as a redirect you set up didn’t work, or they encountered an error on a URL level. It also indicates that the affected page wasn’t indexed.
Always treat the “Redirect error” pages as a priority – when left unattended, they may contribute to severe SEO issues like wasting your crawl budget or losing accumulated ranking signals.
Causes for “Redirect error”
If you see the “Redirect error” status in your Page indexing (Index Coverage) report, it means that:
- You set up a redirect to transfer both bots and users from one page to another URL,
- Googlebot received a 3xx redirect response code from your server,
- Googlebot wanted to follow your redirect, but it encountered an error, and as a result
- It didn’t get to your destination page within a given redirect.
Occasionally, “Redirect error” may result from Google’s problems. It happened last year when Google Search Console sent false redirect error notifications to its users.
However, in most cases, redirect errors derive from your website’s internal issues and lack of SEO expertise in implementing redirects.
Let’s take a closer look at what might have caused the “Redirect error” in your Google Search Console.
Too many redirects in a row
Imagine that URL A is the original page you want to redirect, and URL C is your destination page where you want both bots and users forward to.
But when for some reason, you set up more than one URL between URL A and URL C, then you’re creating a redirect chain.
And what you need to know is that, from the SEO perspective, redirect chains are dangerous, and you should avoid them.
Why? Because every additional page in a row requires using extra resources to get to the destination page. And due to its limited resources, Google may stop following your redirects.
In other words, it indicates that a redirect chain is too long, so Googlebot won’t get to your final URL.
And when bots give up following redirects in a given chain, users are served an ERR_TOO_MANY_REDIRECTS error page and don’t get forwarded to the destination URL.
Although one additional page between URLs A and C may not look overwhelming, it happens that some websites have even 6 (or more!) redirects in one chain.
You may then ask, how many redirects in a row is too many?
John Mueller mentioned during one of the SEO Office Hours that Google follows up to 5 redirects simultaneously.
Moreover, according to Google’s official documentation, Googlebot can follow up to 10 pages in a redirect chain, but I would strongly advise you against testing it out.
As a rule of thumb, you should always aim to redirect the original page to the destination URL directly, so in my example case above, it’d be from URL A to C.
And if you also want URL B to be redirected, set up a separate redirect from URL B to C.
Note that as long as you’re following this rule, there’s no limit to the number of single redirects coming from a given page.
Also, remember that everything gets even more complicated when dealing with different types of redirects.
For example, you should watch out for using 301 and 302 redirects in one redirect chain. As you should use 301 and 302 for different cases, it may be difficult for Google to interpret if you want your pages to be temporarily or permanently redirected.
You shouldn’t risk sending mixed signals to Google if you care about your website’s SEO.
While 301 and 302 redirects are the most popular, you need to know that there are also other types of redirects you may encounter.
Read our guide to redirects in Technical SEO to learn more about:
- Other server-side redirects, such as 307 and 308 redirects, and
A redirect loop is when you set up a redirect from URL A to B but then forward bots from URL B again to URL A. It’s a straightforward way to get Googlebot dizzy.
And when Googlebot gets forwarded over and over again, it means that:
- In fact, the redirection from URL A to B doesn’t work, and
- Users never get to the final page within such an endless redirect, so they see the ERR_TOO_MANY_REDIRECTS error page.
Redirect loops are another example of poor redirect configuration and implementation on your website.
Although often confused with each ofter, redirect chains and loops differ significantly. In the case of redirect chains, users may sometimes get to a live URL. In turn, redirect loops never allow both bots and users to access the final page.
There’s nothing like a minimum number of loops you can make – you should avoid them at all costs.
Remember that the perfect scenario is always when you can make Googlebot get to the final page in one ‘hop.’
Incorrect redirect URLs
Your redirect may also not work due to errors on a URL level, e.g., mistakes in the URL structure.
It may happen when the target URL is unintentionally malformed, e.g., includes ‘htttp’ instead of ‘http’ or ‘wwww’ instead of ‘www.’
Another example is when the redirect URL exceeds the maximum URL length. It may happen when adding multiple URLs to a redirect loop and resulting in, e.g., heavily parameterized URLs.
It doesn’t necessarily mean filtering or query parameters are harmful by default. They may be beneficial on eCommerce websites when configured correctly.
But as a rule of thumb, the shorter the URL length, the better. Follow the best practices for creating an SEO-friendly URL structure.
And to avoid “Redirect error,” always ensure Google doesn’t struggle with accessing your final URL.
In general, if the destination page doesn’t respond with the 200 HTTP response code, Googlebot will consider it invalid and won’t schedule its rendering and indexing.
So although such mistakes may seem rare and minor, you shouldn’t let them arise on your website.
And in the case when the target page responds with a different response code, like a 404, you should look for it within the corresponding status in the Page indexing (Index Coverage) report.
Planning a website migration?
Remember that proper planning and configuring your redirects is crucial when migrating your domain or merging your content.
The good news is that you don’t need to go through that process alone.
Reach out to us for website migration services to avoid mistakes and maximize your new website’s search potential.
How to fix “Redirect error”
If you want to fix “Redirect error” in Google Search Console, you need to:
- Identify why your redirect didn’t work, and then
- Ensure that the original page directly forwards bots and users to the destination URL.
When properly fixed and redirected, the status of the affected URL should change to “Page with redirect” in the Page indexing (Index Coverage) report.
But addressing this issue may require a more detailed approach.
That’s why, without further ado, let’s dive into how to fix the “Redirect error” issue step-by-step.
Analyze the list of the affected pages in Google Search Console
First, browse the list of the affected pages in the Page indexing (Index Coverage) report to assess the scale of the problem or look for any patterns in the affected URLs.
If you suspect that your website may struggle with redirect chains or loops, here’s when I need to warn you.
The report will show you only the URL that initiated a given redirect. For more information on possible redirect chains or loops, you need to look beyond Google Search Console. I describe how to do it in the next section.
Another aspect you need to examine in the Page indexing (Index Coverage) report is if your sitemap file doesn’t include any “Redirect error” pages.
To do this, enter the status page and, using the dropdown menu in the upper left corner of the report, filter out the affected URLs to ‘All submitted pages.’
Considering that you don’t want the affected URL to be indexed, you shouldn’t find any pages here.
One of the best practices is to update your XML sitemaps every time you set up a redirect. Remember that your sitemap file should only include pages you want to get indexed and which respond with the 200 status code.
It’s also when you should consider whether you want the affected page to be redirected.
If you use a 301 redirect, users won’t see the original URL, as they can only access the destination page. But when you want users to access both of these pages and indicate that one is more critical for you, you should consider removing the redirection method and using the canonical tag.
Read how you can benefit from canonical tags and how they differ from 301 redirects in our guide to canonical tags.
Fix redirect chains and loops
As you already know, although beneficial when reporting the “Redirect error” issues, the Page indexing (Index Coverage) report won’t show you what triggered them.
One option for a redirection audit I take advantage of is installing an extension to your browser and monitoring pages while browsing your website.
My tool of choice is Link Redirect Trace, but I recommend you to check out Redirect Path from Ayima (for Google Chrome) or HEADMasterSEO (if you prefer desktop tools.)
When you enter the original page, the Link Redirect Trace tool outlines all URLs included in the chain specifying the HTTP response codes for each page and where they redirect to.
The tool also shows you the number of redirects in one chain. It might be helpful when dealing with long chains, as in the example above – the tool identified 10 (!) redirects in one row.
A thorough analysis of URLs can also help you navigate the redirect loop issues. It was the case for the example I analyzed above – the last URL in the chain doesn’t respond with a 200 response code, but it forwards bots to the original page.
However, manually checking for chains and loops may not be a perfect approach if you’re dealing with a large website.
Here’s when you should perform a site crawl to ensure you don’t miss any redirects. To do this, you should use an SEO crawler like, e.g., Screaming Frog.
Create a redirection plan
To face your “Redirect error” issues, you need a proper plan of action to ensure you have control over your redirects.
Start with creating a spreadsheet that outlines the list of original pages you want to redirect and their destination URLs.
Follow the same pattern when planning to implement new redirects on your website. It’s also a crucial step to keep track of all the planned changes when preparing for website migration.
Apart from that, remember that when redirecting, you need to think about SEO at each step of the process. To make it easier, I prepared a list of best practices for fixing and implementing your redirects:
|Action||Why and how to fix it|
|Fixing redirect chains and loops||Remove unnecessary redirects. If you need to redirect pages from the middle of the chain, ensure you forward them within a single redirect.
Review if your 301 redirects lead to a 200 status code page that is your intended destination.
|Addressing broken link issues||Monitor if you’re not redirecting to 404 pages to avoid unnecessary requests in a redirect chain and poor user experience.
Instead, forward bots and users to a contextually related page responding with a 200 status code.
Read our guide to “Not found (404)” to learn how to approach such issues.
|Updating internal linking||Extensive internal linking to redirected pages may waste your crawl budget as bots are getting to pages you want them to leave anyway.
Remove internal links to the old URL and point them to the destination page responding with a 200 status code.
|Implementing new redirects||Stick to a pre-prepared plan to minimize the risk of errors.
Ensure bots can access your pages so they can see that you configured a redirect and respect it. In this case, follow the best practices of using robots.txt for SEO.
Emphasize that the destination URL is the one you care about – add a self-referential canonical tag to your target page.
Also, beware of removing your redirects. According to Google, you need to keep them in place for at least a year, but I recommend you not get rid of them at all.
Almost done. Now, check if your “Redirect error” issues have been resolved in Google Search Console, and you can enjoy the traffic moving to your new destination URLs.
However, remember that your changes may not be immediately visible in Google Search Console. Google will pick up your updated redirects depending on how often and quickly Googlebot crawls your website.
In the case of a small website, you can manually check if your redirects work as you intended.
All you have to do is type your original URL and use one of the browser extensions I recommended. This way, you can see if you get forwarded to the destination page in your browser.
But when you’re managing a large website, I understand how challenging it may be to implement and monitor your redirects. It’s also because the bigger a website is, the more SEO aspects you need to think about.
Here’s what you can do now:
- Contact us!
- Receive a personalized plan to deal with your redirect errors.
- Unlock your website’s indexing potential!
Still unsure of dropping us a line? Read how technical SEO services can help you improve your website.
- In most cases, “Redirect error” issues are self-induced. Remember to follow these best practices when implementing redirects:
- avoid creating redirect chains and loops, and
- double-check for bad URLs or empty pages that may stop bots and users from getting to your destination content.
- Optimizing your redirects is crucial to perform a healthy website migration. Whether changing your URL structure or merging your content, correctly implemented redirects will help you enhance user experience and transfer your accumulated PageRank.
- The Page indexing (Index Coverage) report in Google Search Console will only give you an insight into your redirect errors. For detailed research of your problems, perform a full site crawl or use tools like Link Redirect Trace.
- The larger your website is, the more complex the debugging process may be. Contact us for a thorough technical SEO analysis of your website to ensure your redirects work as you intended.