How to Prevent Redirect Chains from Destroying Your SEO

How to Prevent Redirect Chains from Destroying Your SEO

Have a website? Then you’ve likely heard about search engine optimization (SEO) — the process of making your site easier to find, crawl, and rank for search engines.

The better your SEO, the higher your website ends up on search engine ranking pages (SERPs) — as a result, the greater the chance of your site being noticed by potential customers.

And with 68% of all website traffic coming from organic and paid searches — rather than through social media shares and other marketing channels — the right SEO strategy is critical.

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Many SEO techniques are straightforward: Don’t keyword stuff. Keep your content relevant. Improve your website’s user experience (UX) by cutting complexity and boosting speed. But other metrics also matter.

Case in point? Redirect chains. These interconnected Internet issues cause problems for search engine spiders, frustration for users, and potential problems for your page ranking.

But what exactly is a redirect chain? Why is it potentially problematic? And how do you find and remove these unintentional website course corrections? Here’s what you need to know.

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What is a redirect chain?

A redirect chain occurs when there’s more than one redirect between the initial link users click on and the eventual destination page.

There are two common types of redirects: 301 and 302.

301 redirects happen when the destination page permanently links to a new URL and 302 redirects point to temporary pages while new content is created or websites are built. From an SEO perspective, both are treated the same.

Consider a backlink from a reputable site that leads to a page on your site, which we’ll call URL A. If users click on the link and are taken directly to URL A, it’s considered to be a single 301 redirect. Perfect.

But what happens if the content on URL A needs a refresh? You update the content with URL B, then set URL A to redirect users to the new page. This causes a redirect chain — your backlink leads to URL A which redirects to URL B. Add new pages and the chain gets longer and longer, and longer…

Two Reasons for Redirects

In most cases, redirect chains are unintentional, and they typically happen for one of two reasons:

1. Content Updates

Since changing backlinks on other sides isn’t easy — you’d need to get in contact with the site owner, ask them to amend the link, and hope they have the time to do so — it’s often quicker to simply redirect the initial backlink to a new URL. As websites grow and content changes, however, the number of steps between the initial click and eventual destination can increase dramatically.

2. URL Specifics

Redirect chains also occur when businesses rapidly scale up their website and small issues with URL specifics turn into larger redirect problems. For instance, consider the URL:

http://www.yoursite.com/products

Since it lacks the https now expected for secure website browsing, you update the URL to:

https://www.yoursite.com/products

This creates a redirect, but there’s another issue — no trailing slash after “products”. So what happens? You amend the URL again:

https://www.yoursite.com/products/

The result? You’ve gone from one to three redirects with only minor changes. Combined with new content generation and applied to your site at scale, it’s easy to see how redirects can quickly get out of hand.

The Negative SEO Impact of Redirect Chains

What’s the big problem with redirect chains, anyway? Since the links point users and search engine crawlers in the right direction, what does it matter if it takes a few extra steps?

As is turns out, large redirect chains can significantly impact your spot in SERPs for three reasons:

1. Link Juice Loss

The “boost” your site gets from reputable backlinks is often called “link juice” — the more juice you get, the better for your search rankings.

With just one redirect from a backlink to your site, you get 100% of the juice. Add another 301 redirect and you’re getting (on average) about 85% of the link juice. Add another and you get 85% of 85%, or just over 72%. The more links, the less juice.

2. Reduced Site Performance

It makes sense: The longer the chain, the more time it takes your destination page to load as browsers work their way through link after link. And with site performance now a critical factor in boosting SEO, more redirects mean lower rankings for your page.

3. Crawling Concerns

Search engine bots will only crawl so much before giving up. Called their “crawl budget”, most smaller websites don’t need to worry about search spiders spending their entire budget before reaching the end of the site — unless redirects start to ramp up.

The bigger and more numerous your redirect chains, the longer it takes for search engines to reach the end. Eventually, they’ll just stop looking.

Also worth mentioning are redirect loops. Here, initial links lead to URL A, then URL B and the URL C, and then back to URL A — causing a loop. Eventually, browsers stop redirecting and users end up with no content. Not surprisingly, your SEO suffers.

How to Find Redirect Chains

While you could go through your site manually and evaluate every page, every link, and every redirect, this is both time and resource-intensive — especially if you’re in the middle of site expansion or rolling out a new content strategy.

Best bet? Use online redirect checker tools to determine where your links are working as intended and where they create potentially problematic chains. Some popular solutions include:

1. Redirect-checker.org

Simply type in your http:// or https:// URL to discover any 301 or 302 redirects for a specific page. This free tool is great if you’re only worried about specific URLs but isn’t ideal for checking your entire site.

2. Sitebulb

Sitebulb delivers a host of reports that evaluate how crawl-friendly your site is, where redirect issues exist, and how links are distributed across your site. Sitebulb offers a 14-day free trial followed by a monthly subscription model.

3. Screaming Frog

The SEO Spider from Screaming Frog lets you find broken links, audit link redirects, and discover duplicate content. SEO Spider comes in both free and paid versions — the biggest difference is that the free version will only crawl 500 URLs while the paid version offers unlimited redirect reports.

4. DeepCrawl

DeepCrawl bills itself as the “world’s best website crawler” and offers three plans: Light, Light Plus, and Enterprise. The Light plan is designed for one project and 10,000 URLs per month, while Light Plus offers 40,000 URLs, and Enterprise comes with unlimited redirect reconnaissance.

How to Remove a Redirect Chain

Once you’ve found redirect chains, removing them is straightforward — simply change the redirect link of the first destination page to the final URL rather than pointing it toward another redirect.

In practice, this means changing the redirect of URL A, in our example above, to URL C rather than URL B — in turn, skipping the middle step and ensuring your site doesn’t lose any link juice or SEO ranking. If URL B is still backlinked by other sites, you can leave its redirect to URL C intact. If it only exists as a bridge between the older URL A and the newer URL C, it’s worth removing redirects entirely and deleting or archiving the page.

Remember — every 301 redirect after the initial jump costs your site approximately 15% of potential link juice. Fill your SERP cup by cutting down redirects wherever possible.

How to Prevent Redirect Chains

To prevent redirect chains from building up over time, it’s worth regularly checking your site with redirect tools like those mentioned above. It’s also a good idea to keep a record of new URLs as they’re created — either by using a shared spreadsheet or by leveraging automated tools for this purpose — to help ensure that new URLs are connected to the first 301 redirect rather than those further down the chain.

Breaking Bad (Chains)

Although it’s not possible to entirely avoid redirect chains from backlinks and other dofollow sources, SEO starts to suffer the longer these chains become. Best bet? Use robust redirect tools to find long-tail chains, break them into smaller pieces wherever possible, and develop URL management frameworks to reduce redirect risks.

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Six Direct Response Copywriting Tips (and Examples)

Six Direct Response Copywriting Tips (and Examples)

Connecting with potential customers is critical to boost interest in your website and drive sales conversions.

But this is often easier said than done — while many site owners understand the value of compelling content, creating copy that resonates with visitors is more complicated than it appears.

Here’s why: Gone are the days of keyword-stuffed content designed only to drive up SEO values. When it comes to successful website marketing and sales campaigns, action is the driving force.

But with the typical consumer now owning and using at least three digital devices on average, the amount of time content has to make an impact is diminishing quickly.

To both boost up-front engagement and encourage immediate action, many businesses are leveraging a new approach: Direct response copywriting.

In this piece, we’ll dive into direct response copywriting details, offer some actionable examples and provide six tips to help boost the benefits of direct response copywriting.

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What is direct response copywriting?

Direct response copywriting is all about right now. It’s about inspiring consumers to action the moment they’re done reading your copy.

As a result, successful direct response content creators are highly valued (and well-paid) professionals since they’re able to generate significant return on investment (ROI) for organizations.

They accomplish this aim by combining a deep understanding of target markets with substantial writing skills to create copy that evokes emotional or logical responses from readers.

From understanding key pain points to highlighting immediate needs or offering specific solutions, direct response copywriting done right delivers familiarity and personalization combined with market knowledge and authority to create a sense of trust.

While your specific aim may vary, direct response copywriting typically focuses on actions such as:

  • Purchasing an item or service
  • Signing up for email newsletters or product updates
  • Downloading free resources such as e-guides or whitepapers
  • Following brands on social media sites

Metrics are critical to ensure direct copywriting is having the desired effect. These may include total sales volumes, new email list sign-ups, the number of times resources are downloaded, or the uptick in total followers on social sites like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

When it comes to creating direct response copywriting, businesses have two options: in-house or outsourced.

While in-house content creation may offer up-front cost savings, the highly targeted nature of direct deliverables comes with a steep learning curve — initial efforts may not have the intended effect if they’re too generalized or fail to strike the right balance between authority and accessibility.

Alternatively, while best-of-breed direct response copywriting services aren’t cheap, they can often deliver ROI between 5X and 10X their initial cost.

Direct Response Copywriting Examples

So what does direct response copywriting look like in practice? Let’s break down a few examples.

1. Fizzle

This banner is from Fizzle, which provides resources for entrepreneurs. It speaks to the fundamental nature of these self-starter businesses: Earning a living that isn’t tied to traditional corporate or retail frameworks and that brings a sense of personal satisfaction.

The copy is short, targeted, and to-the-point and encourages immediate action to click-through and see what the company has to offer.

2. Dropbox

File service Dropbox has made significant enterprise in-roads by offering streamlined and secure collaboration.

Here, their direct response copy makes their value proposition abundantly clear: Users can collaborate on anything, anytime, anywhere. It speaks to the pain points experienced by main companies trying to find collaborative common ground and offers Dropbox as the simplest solution.

3. MailChimp

This direct response copy is from automation platform MailChimp. It offers four key benefits laid out in an easy-to-read format, along with more in-depth details and links below.

For companies looking to improve customer connections, boost brand impact, or get more from their data, MailChimp’s copy makes it clear they can help — and makes it easy for companies to take the first step.

Six Direct Response Copywriting Tips

Here’s the hard truth: With customers now inundated by online advertisements across multiple platforms and devices, it’s hard for content to stand out. As a result, companies need direct response copywriting that is immediately engaging and compelling — and that’s no easy task.

Here are six direct response copywriting tips to boost your in-house efforts or help you evaluate the potential copy providers.

1. Know your market.

Understanding your target audience is key for any copywriting, but it’s fundamental for direct response efforts.

For content to compel action, readers need to feel like copywriters “get” them — that they understand their specific pain points, and can offer immediately applicable solutions.

This is by far the most labor-intensive step of the process, but is well worth the effort.

2. Start strong.

The first thing prospective customers see when they look at your copy? The headline. If it doesn’t grab attention, chances are prospective purchasers won’t read the rest of your content and you won’t compel action. Headlines should reference the reader directly with “you” statements or questions — done well, headlines can stand on their own as effective actionable content.

Worth noting? If a great headline doesn’t present itself immediately, try writing the rest of the copy first, since this may help you find the best first-line fit. It’s also a good idea to walk away from your content for a few days after you’re done — if it doesn’t have the same impact when you look again, consider making changes.

3. Apply AIDCA were possible.

AIDCA stands for “attention, interest, conviction, desire and action.” Ideally, you want all five in your copy. Start with an attention-grabbing headline, then drive interest with a compelling product or service hook.

If you’re creating longer-form copy, conviction can take the form of a customer testimonial or review, but this isn’t necessary for quick-hitter content.

Desire speaks to your value proposition — why would customers want your product or service? Action is your goal; make it clear what you’re looking for and provide direct links.

4. Ask for action.

While your direct response copywriting content should always end with a call-to-action (CTA), it’s also a good idea to reinforce this idea two or three times throughout your content.

Best bet? Always start and end with a call-to-action and include another actionable mention in the middle of longer copy.

5. Prioritize the second person.

Effective direct response copywriting centers on the consumer, not the company. As a result, businesses are best-served by prioritizing the second person with “you” statements and questions that speak to readers directly.

While “I” and “we” statements might offer great insight about your company, its processes or its current accolades, these first-person pronouns won’t encourage action. 

Simply put? “You” is the fastest way to “yes”.

6. Write fast, edit hard.

Overthinking direct response copywriting can slow the process and hamper overall effectiveness. Why? Because this action-driven framework demands a unique combination of instinct and information to create compelling content.

Instead, companies should take a write fast, edit hard approach: Draft content quickly to establish key themes and pinpoint critical outcomes, then edit ruthlessly to eliminate extraneous words. Direct response copywriting isn’t about literary loquaciousness — it’s about crisp, clear, compelling content that connects with your target audience.

And … Action!

The ultimate goal of direct response copywriting? Connecting with your audience to drive immediate action. It’s no easy task — but by knowing your market, starting strong, applying AIDCA, asking for action, prioritizing the second person, and editing with intention it’s possible to create content that delivers reliable consumer response on-demand.

What is a Dofollow Link?

What is a Dofollow Link?

The easier it is for potential customers to find your site in search engine results, the more traffic (and sales) you’ll generate.

As a result, there’s a kind of constant content competition underway as website owners and administrators look for ways to stand out from the crowd and improve search engine optimization (SEO).

Gone are the wild, wild west days of the World Wide Web where keyword spamming and content stuffing were the norm to drive search engine interest.

Now, brands need to focus on more tightly-controlled metrics — such as Google’s PageRank — to boost their online appeal and push their site listing closer to the first page, first result pinnacle.

While part of this effort comes down to writing relevant, accurate, and interesting content, there’s another key component: Dofollow links. With the right approach, these links can help leverage great content into higher PageRank and better search results.

Here’s how they work.

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What is a dofollow link?

PageRank is effectively a weighted score that uses links to assign points — the more points, the better your site rank, and the better your SEO. Often referred to as “link juice” by online marketing professionals because of their ability to “flow” through websites with the right linking structure, getting these points is a priority for any site owner.

The problem? Almost immediately after their introduction, getting points in any way possible became the strategy of many unscrupulous marketers.

The easiest way to achieve this aim? Leaving comments on the posts of popular websites that contained links back to client sites, in turn boosting their profile. The more reputable the linking site — think well-respected retailers or news organizations — the bigger the link juice boost.

By default, these links were “dofollow” — they instructed search engines to follow the link back to the originating site and boost its PageRank. To solve the growing problem of spam links the “nofollow” link was created: Site admins could add an HTML tag:

 Link Text

… to any link on their site, which instructed search engines not to follow the link back to its destination and, in turn, not boost its PageRank.

Today, dofollow links remain an important part of SEO strategy — getting a “backlink” from a reputable site can significantly boost PageRank values and help brands stand out. The introduction of nofollow links, meanwhile, offers more control for site admins.

For example, most comment sections now include nofollow tags by default, and page creators can choose to add nofollow tags to blog posts and other articles. Changing these links from nofollow to dofollow is easy, but requires that destination site owners contact linking site admins and ask for the change.

How to Make a Dofollow Link

In most cases, no action is required to create a dofollow link. If your site is linked to by another site and they don’t choose to add the nofollow tag, search engines will naturally arrive at your page and increase your overall PageRank.

The same is true if you’re including links on your own site. For example, you may choose to add links to other reputable sites within your own content and allow search engines to follow these links.

If you’ve been asked by another brand to include their links on your page or are moderating blog comments, meanwhile, you may want to turn on automatic nofollow tags where possible or ensure that all links include the nofollow tag until you’re sure it makes sense to follow the link back.

This is especially critical if other links lead to low-quality or keyword-stuffed content, since this can reflect poorly on your own site.

Put simply? When it comes to external links from reputable sites that lead back to your page, dofollow is ideal. Links leading outside your site and linked from your own posts or attached to comments on your content should only be dofollow if the outgoing link site is reputable and relevant.

What tools are available for dofollow links?

Wondering if a link is dofollow or nofollow? If it’s on your own site, you can check the HTML code from your CMS admin page to determine if the nofollow tag is present, but what happens when the link comes from another, external site? Since you can’t see or edit their code, you can’t be certain if links are dofollow or nofollow.

In this case, it’s worth using dofollow link checker tools to determine if links will boost your PageRank or not.

Examples include:

The first tool is a web-based tool that checks entire pages for nofollow and dofollow links. Moz MozBar is a Chrome extension, while SEOquake is offered for both Chrome and Firefox. Link Analyzer, meanwhile, is a standalone tool that doesn’t require a specific browser. Each of these tools is free and works by following any links to your site to determine if they’re nofollow or dofollow, then reports the results.

Should I dofollow an external link?

Here, the answer depends on two factors: Where does the link lead, and what are the benefits if you opt for dofollow? Ideally, any dofollow links point search engines to content that’s current, relevant and accurate, in turn providing “link juice” for both the external site and your own website.

There may be cases where reciprocal dofollow links are a good idea, especially if you’re looking to expand site traffic and the external site has a similar ranking to your own page. Ideally, you want a mix of nofollow and dofollow links on your page to ensure search engines don’t view your content as simply a vehicle for PageRank points.

How long will it take Google to recognize a dofollow link?

While there’s no hard and fast answer here since search engine spiders crawl a significant volume of pages each day, dofollow links are generally recognized by Google within two to four days after being posted.

If your site has low traffic volumes and the dofollow links you’re creating or receiving come from similarly small webpages, it could take more time for PageRank to recognize these links. If you’re fortunate enough to receive a backlink from a highly-ranked site, meanwhile, you may see the benefit in just a few days.

Dofollow links remain a critical aspect of SEO and search ranking efforts, but must be used strategically to deliver substantive benefits.

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