Google, via a recent blog post, has recently released their search engine optimization starter guide to the public. Previously a document that first began as an effort to help teams within Google, this document aims to be a guide that we can follow to find tips that could improve our sites’ crawlability and indexing.
There are a lot of good basic search engine optimization tips in this Google SEO starter guide. However, apparently Google engineers don’t know everything: the example site noted in the guide is set up as a 302 Temporary Redirect to the Google.com home page. OOPS! This is not something that you ever want to do. In fact, Matt Cutts has talked about 302 Redirects several times and it’s actually been a major issue not only with Google but with other search engines.
So, I would like to be the first to say (just like Bill Engvall says): Google, Here’s Your Sign!
Let me explain this a bit further for those of you who don’t know the differences between the different types ways that you can redirect a web page to another web page.
Matt Cutts has said on his blog that URL canonicalization is an issue: and he said it back in 2006. You might want to read Matt’s blog post about it if you’re not familiar with it.
As I was reading the Google Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide, the author explains:
An example may help our explanations, so we’ve created a fictitious website to follow throughout the guide. For each topic, we’ve fleshed out enough information about the site to illustrate the point being covered. Here’s some background information about the site we’ll use:
* Website/business name: “Brandon’s Baseball Cards”
* Domain name: brandonsbaseballcards.com
As someone who is very inquisitive, I immediately looked up Brandon’s Baseball Cards to see if Google had actually registered that domain name: and yes, it was purchased a few days before the Google Starter Search Engine Optimization Guide was released. It’s owned by Brandon Falls, Search Quality Analyst II at Google. This makes sense; Brandon Falls wrote the guide, registered a domain name to use and set up the domain name: and redirected it the WRONG way to Google.com.
If you run the domain name through this tool, you will see what a search engine sees when they visit a web page (along with the page’s “headers”). Upon checking the server headers (the redirect) to verify what type of redirect is being used, I found that there is a 302 Temporary Redirect being used, not a 301 Permanent Redirect. Here’s the actual header data (just in case it’s actually updated by Brandon Falls at Google after reading this):
Google in the past has been notorious for having issues with 302 Redirects. My search engine optimization suggest/tip is that you always use a 301 Permanent Redirect: if you use anything else to redirect visitors you’re hurting your site’s potential search engine rankings.
In this case, Google’s Brandon Falls registered a domain name and set up the wrong type of redirect to redirect visitors to Google.com because this example web site is not live right now. The redirecting is probably a good thing to do: but the type of redirect being used is not being used. If you take a look at the server headers on the domain name, you’ll see that not only does it redirect with a 302 Temporary Redirect it actually redirects to another URL (some page named ?3dbdb1c0 that then redirects again with another 302 Temporary Redirect to Google.com. This is not recommended, and I am extremely surprised that a Google Search Engineer would not set up the proper redirect.
So, Google and Brandon Falls: Here’s Your Sign!
Update November 19, 2008 I’m not sure if this has anything to do with our post, but it appears that Google has now changed the redirect from a 302 Temporary Redirect to a 301 Permanent Redirect.