What Are Redirect Loops And How To Fix Them

There are five types of redirects you can use on your website to send both search engine crawlers and visitors from one URL to another. 

When implemented correctly, they won’t do your SEO any harm. However, if you make a mistake and inadvertently create a redirect chain or a redirect loop, there may be some unpleasant consequences. 

Let’s talk about redirect loops, their causes, how they impact your SEO and what you can do to fix them. 

What Is a Redirect Loop?

A redirect loop is when a URL is redirected to another URL, which however redirects back to the original one, creating an infinite redirect cycle. 

For example, if you redirect URL A to URL B, URL B to URL C and URL C to URL A, you will have created an endless chain of redirects, or a redirect loop, that won’t be resolvable. 

Redirect loops trigger the ERR_TOO_MANY_REDIRECTS error in browsers. 

too many redirects error screenshot in google chrome

What Causes Redirect Loops? 

Redirect loops are usually caused by poor redirect configuration. Either you have made a mistake yourself (i.e. have pasted or typed the wrong URL into your .htaccess file), or there is an issue with your server’s configuration or the CMS’s redirect manager (i.e. the plugin you are using to manage redirects).

Any of the tools you use to create redirects could be misbehaving. Your CDN may be misconfigured, the plugin you are using could be faulty, or various systems could be in conflict with each other. For example, you may have redirected URL A to URL B on your server, but URL B to URL A in your redirects plugin. 

How Do Redirect Loops Impact SEO?

Redirect loops are bad for both SEO and user experience (which in turn negatively impacts SEO). 

Visitors won’t be able to access the page they are looking for, while crawlers will be forced to run around in an infinite circle, until they give up. 

Redirect loops will waste your crawl budget that would be better spent elsewhere. They may also make your website appear disreputable in the eyes of search engines, as some of your links are not crawlable.

You will also lose the link equity that should be passed from one URL to another, since the redirect is never resolved. The destination page will thus miss out on valuable ranking opportunities. 

How To Find Redirect Loops

You can use various tools to check for redirect loops. 

First, the site audit capability of both Ahrefs and SEMRush can come in handy, as they will both flag redirect chains. 

You can also use Screaming Frog to scan your website. Once it’s completed, click on Reports > Redirects > Redirect Chains. You should be able to identify the loop from there. 

If you would like to use a browser extension, Redirect Path is a good choice. You can check where a URL redirects to, so you will be able to discover where the loop begins. 

Link Whisper will highlight any broken links on your website, which will also come in handy when you are doing a redirect audit. If a link is broken, you may have implemented an incorrect redirect. 

Search Console may also show you there is a redirect chain on your website. It will be listed in the “Pages” report, under “Why pages aren’t indexed”. 

Note that since redirect loops are essentially a redirect chain, this is how they will be flagged by various tools. You will need to manually figure out what the loop itself is. 

How To Fix Redirect Loops

Once you have identified the loop, fix it straight away. It may be as simple as resolving conflicting rules in your redirect manager, or it may mean deleting a redirect rule on your server. 

When the loop has been fixed, make sure to clear your website’s cache, as the loop may still be in there. 

Ensure Redirects Have Been Implemented Correctly

To put it simply, the way to fix a redirect loop is to ensure that URL A redirects to URL B, and that URL B does not redirect anywhere else, and is the final destination page. 

In practice, this means removing any unnecessary redirects from wherever you may have placed them (a plugin, your server, etc.). When creating a redirect, first check the destination page. If it’s already a redirect, choose a different URL. Also make sure you have pasted the URL correctly and be mindful of slashes and hyphens. 

Clear Your Cookies

When dealing with a redirect loop, make sure to first clear your cookies for that website. There may be saved information in your browser that will keep showing the loop even after you have removed it. 

In Google Chrome, you’ll need to go to History and Clear Browsing Data. You are getting rid of “Cookies and other site data” – everything else you can reasonably keep. Restart your browser and only then start working on the loop fix. Once you are fairly certain you have solved the problem, clear your cookies again to make sure it is indeed solved. 

clearing cookies in google chrome screenshot

Clear Your Cache

You should also make sure to clear your website cache. You can do this in the caching plugin you have installed, if you are using WordPress. Here’s what it looks like on a website that is hosted on Siteground:

Depending on your host and plugin, you may not be able to access it from the top menu, and will need to click on the plugin from the left-hand menu and clear your cache from there. 

If you are using Shopify, your cache will automatically clear every 24 hours. You will need to contact support if you need it cleared for troubleshooting purposes, or you will just have to wait to see if you’ve managed to resolve the loop in a day’s time. 

clearing cache on siteground screenshot

Check Your HTTPS Settings

It is also worth double-checking your HTTPS settings. If you’ve failed to redirect some HTTP pages to their appropriate HTTPS versions, you may have created a redirect loop. 

Also, if you try to make your website load over the HTTPS protocol without installing an SSL certificate first, you will create a redirect loop. If you do already have one, it’s worth checking that it’s not faulty or expired when troubleshooting redirect loops. 

Check Your .htaccess File

Your redirect loop may also be caused by issues with your .htaccess file. If this is the case, you may need to create a new one. If you can’t log into the backend of your website, you will need to do this on the server itself. 

If you are using WordPress, you can also use Yoast to manage the .htaccess file, if you don’t want to fiddle with it on the server. 

To fix the loop, check that you have created all of the redirects properly. This is what a redirect should look like in the file:

Redirect 301 /what-are-the-types-of-redirects/ /types-of-redirects/

If we added this hypothetical redirect to our .htaccess file, all traffic from https://linkwhisper.com//what-are-the-types-of-redirects/ would be directed to https://linkwhisper.com/types-of-redirects/

If you’ve uncovered the cause of the loop to be a superfluous or erroneous redirect, fix or remove it from your .htaccess file. Do this with extra care, as a mistake in the .htaccess file can break your entire website, so be careful where you click and what you add to it. Always check that you have entered the right command. 

Disable WordPress Plugins 

While incredibly useful, WordPress plugins can sometimes be responsible for an incredible amount of website havoc. In fact, one of them may be causing your redirect loop. A new plugin may be in conflict with an old one, or one of them might be trying to override the command another one has in place.

You can start by disabling your newest plugin to see if the issue is resolved. If not, you can disable all of them to see if one of them is the culprit. You can do this manually in the backend of your website, or on the server itself. Just navigate to the plugins folder and rename it to anything else. This will disable all of your plugins (which will probably affect what your website looks like and some of its features).

If the loop is resolved, one of the plugins is to blame. The only way to figure out which one it actually is will be to turn each of them off in turn until you locate the problem.

Redirect Loops vs. Redirect Chains: What Is The Difference?

Redirect loops are essentially infinite redirect chains. The difference is that redirect chains are ultimately resolved and take visitors and crawlers to a final destination URL. Redirect loops result in an error, and you can never get to the page you were looking for. 

While redirect chains aren’t great for SEO, they aren’t too harmful either. Too many of them will slow your website down and spend your crawl budget, but as long as there are less than 10 hops in the chain, they will be tolerated by Google. 

Redirect loops on the other hand are outright harmful and should be removed as soon as possible. 

The Case Against Redirect Loops 

Redirect loops are bad both for your rankings and user experience. They should be dealt with immediately. While it may take quite some time to pinpoint the source of the loop, using an SEO audit tool or a spider to locate all of your redirects and redirect chains will be a good place to start. 

Don’t forget to also use Link Whisper to stay on top of your internal links. It will save you hours in link insertion and anchor text optimization! 

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