Akshay Ranganath

Let Akamai help you tame 301 redirects

Blog Post created by Akshay Ranganath Employee on Jun 6, 2016

301 redirects could cause your SEO juice to be lost through chains, bad links or other issues. This blog builds on Logan Ray's recommendations for addressing redirect issue through Akamai.

Don't let 301s ruin your SEO

Logan Ray  has published an excellent blog post on the different kinds of 301 redirects that exist on a site and the methods to fix them. Why does it matter? Here's what Logan says:

For every step in a redirect chain, about 10% of authority is lost. But it’s also important to acknowledge how this would drastically increase page load time and decrease the overall quality of your site.

He calls out 4 kinds of redirects namely:

  1. You have redirect chains
  2. Your internal linking steps through redirects
  3. You have unnecessary 301s
  4. You have canonical tags that 301

Later in this blog, he explains methods to fix the redirect related issues.

 

Taming 301s with Akamai

For customers who are using Akamai, there are more tools available for both reporting and for fixing the 301 errors. These are over and beyond the fix that could be made at the origin. I wanted to call out a few of them here through step-by-step process

 

Identify if there is a 301 issue

The first step would to be verify if you have a 301 issue. This could be an exercise that is carried out once a quarter for a large site or once every 6 months for a relatively smaller website.

 

Head to Property Manger -> Monitor -> Responses to pull up the reports. Choose at least a month for the reporting duration (the default is 2 days). Focus on the report Hits By Response Code. It should of following format:

response_codes.png

 

The interesting metric would be 301s coming from origin. Edge would be issue 301s as well. However, they could be due to the generic redirects like mobile site redirect or geo-specific redirects. Fixing them would also be important but, that will require more analysis. Checking the origin redirects and fixing it is more of a low-hanging optimization.

 

Identify the 301 URLs

Assuming you do have an unreasonable number of 301s, pull up the list of URLs returning 301. Property Manager has a report that will pull out the list of URLs and split it by the response codes. The ordering can be by volume or by hits. You can get this report as follows: "Monitor -> User Traffic". Again, remember to change the reporting duration to at least a month.

 

In this page, there is a report title Top URLs. In the drop-down, choose the option "Hit Details"

Screen Shot 2016-06-06 at 10.15.15 AM.png

Report will be displayed in this format. It has specific numbers for 302 and 304 status codes and the combined sum of hits for 3xx status codes.

response_codes.png

 

To get the 301 numbers, download the report by clicking on the download button. In the CSV file, add a column for 301. The value for this should be (3xx hits - 302 hits - 304 hits). When you sort the list, it will provide a list of top 301 URLs by hits. Note that will the number of 301 redirects generated by the edge and not the origin.

 

You could get the same report by volume as well.

Note that the URL report truncates the query string parameters. The URL list will thus be aggregated and could be misleading if the redirects had been caused due to certain query strings.

Next Steps

After you have the list of URLs, run the analysis for identifying one of the 4 categories for redirects. For the redirects that should remain, you could use Akamai's product set to add and maintain the redirects.

 

For the redirects that needs to go, it will have to be done at the origin. This will mostly require a change in source code to stop referencing the bad URLs. Alternatively, you could add rules at Akamai to forward the requests to correct targets. This will be a topic for another blog post / discussion.

 

For now, I'll only focus on the redirects that needs to be retained.

 

If you have hundreds or thousands of such redirects, Edge Redirector cloudlet could be a better solution for your use case. If the number of redirects are a few in number, you could add them through Property Manager. Here's how you could do it:

  • Edit your configuration in Property Manager.
  • Choose "Add Rule" and then do one of the following:
    • If you are adding simple redirect like Mobile redirect (www.site to m.site) or geo specific redirect, choose the rule "Redirect"
    • If you are preforming the redirect based on query string, URL path or feel the need for more flexibility, just add a blank rule.
  • When the rule is added, enter the conditions for the redirect in the "Criteria" section. In the example below, I've added a condition saying "if query string 'test=true' is present, then perform the redirect.
  • In the "Behavior" section, add the rule for the redirect. In the example, I've set the rule to redirect to same domain on the path "/testing/home.html".

 

Here's the screen captures.

Choosing the "Redirect" rule

response_codes.png

 

Adding a "Blank" rule and then entering conditions for redirect

response_codes.png

 

Further Reading

If you need more help on setting redirects or to add the conditions for redirects, please feel free to start a discussion and we'll be glad to help.

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