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Google Search Console Coverage report and URL inspection tool silently follow redirects, as John Mueller of Google put it a while back. Glenn Gabe posted a useful reminder on Twitter yesterday that Search Console reports on destination urls and “if you see urls that are categorized as blocked by robots.txt or noindexed, but they aren’t, they could be redirecting to urls that are.”
This is important for all SEOs to understand because if you are debugging a URL and it seems like Google is not able to access those URLs, it might just be the end destination URL that Google is not able to access.
Glenn shared this screen shot but also showed how that target URL is not blocked by the site’s robots.txt but rather where the target URL is redirecting to is blocked, i.e. the destination/final landing URL is blocked, not the target URL.
Glenn then reminded us of a video from over a year ago where John Mueller of Google said that Google “silently follow redirects on pages like this.” He added “So if you look at a page that is redirecting to a valid page, then the URL inspection tool will say, well, there’s a valid page here because that’s what we would index under that URL. So you don’t see that redirect there. That’s kind of confusing if you’re trying to diagnose a redirect like this.” Google Search Console tries “to show the content that we would end up indexing there,” he said.
Here are Glenn’s tweets:
Would be better for GSC to report that the url redirects to another url that is blocked by robots.txt or is noindexed. I know this has confused many people over time. One simple change there could clear things up in a hurry. Just my 2 cents. 🙂 @danielwaisberg @JohnMu https://t.co/cKlSdOr9B5
— Glenn Gabe (@glenngabe) January 5, 2021
John did admit it can be confusing:
Yeah, it can be quite confusing until you notice what’s happening.
— 🍌 John 🍌 (@JohnMu) January 5, 2021
Maybe Google will change this at one point in Google Search Console?
Forum discussion at Twitter.