A 301 Redirect or a 302 Redirect, which one are you using? Do you know your SEO is on the stake? If you know the difference between two then you are good to go, if you are still confused like many people then read through this article to get an insight into the 301 and 302 redirects.
What is a Redirect?
By using a redirect you can send both the user and the search engine to a different URL from the one that was originally requested by them.
Redirection is a common technique used by developers, SEO experts, bloggers and everyone who is in touch with web technology in any way. Redirection is common and so does improper redirection.
In the world of SEO redirection is a very crucial element, one small mistake can let you down in the eyes of the search engine and user as well.
There are two types of redirects that are mostly used:
- 301 (Permanent Redirect)
- 302 (Temporary Redirect)
They all seem very similar but their working is way different. There can be n number of reasons that you will need to redirect a URL or page for:
- Broken URL
- You moved to a new website
- Your post moved to a new URL with fresh content
- Your website is under construction and you want to send people to a different URL so they don’t face any issues
The purpose impacts which one you should choose. But without knowing the difference you will end up using the wrong one which could impact your SEO in a very bad way. However, choosing the correct one guarantees that you will at least maintain your current rankings and SEO.
So, It’s better to understand the difference in order to choose the right one every time. As “Half Knowledge is more Harmfull than No Knowledge”.
The 301 Redirect
A 301 URL redirect tells the search engine that the website or page has been moved permanently. So, by this, you can easily understand when it should be used. It passes 90-99% of link equity to the redirected page as per MOZ Stats. For a deeper dive read Search Engine Journal’s article on Google Shares How 301 Redirects Pass PageRank.
Sometimes there are confusions regarding killing the redirects after a certain period of time lets say a Year or so. But Is it really safe to kill the redirects? Search Engine Journal has published a great article on When it is safe to kill redirects & old webpages.
Reading through the above article by Search Engine Journal will give you a deeper insight into the topic and will help you understand the redirection concept better.
Using the 301 Redirect
Most of the people use a 301 redirect when they want to redirect the user from one domain to another. There can be a lot of reasons for the same as you purchased a domain with high authority or traffic and wants to send the juice to your other domain, variations of your brand.
A very common use of 301 is when determining the default domain for the website from “www.yourwebsite.com” and “yourwebsite.com”.
301 redirect is also used when you moved your website from one CMS to another e.g. Moving from WordPress to Shopify the URL structure changes a bit i.e. WordPress uses “yoursite.com/page_name” whereas Shopify uses “yoursite.com/pages/page_name”. In this case, it becomes very important to do 301 redirects.
301 redirects are also used when you publish a fresh content and there are still some posts or pages on the same topic but with the outdated content, in that case, you can use a 301 redirect to the fresh post, it will redirect the traffic and the link juice as well.
The 302 Redirect
The 302 redirect sends the message to the search engine that the webpage has been moved temporarily. Many people use a 302 redirection when they really mean is a 301 redirection. This mistake can let search engines continue to index the old URL and will crawl the new URL as the duplicate one.
In this case, the link popularity might be divided between the two URLs which will indeed hurt your search rankings. This is when knowledge comes into the play.
Using the 302 Redirect
A 302 redirect should only be used when you want to send the users to a new webpage of the site for a short period of time. It can be when updating your website.
It can be used when you are testing our a new page and wants to get some customer feedback without hurting the rankings of the original page. Keep in mind a 302 redirect is just a temporary redirect in the knowledge of a search engine and the search engine understands it well.
By saying “temporary move” a 302 tells the search engine to keep indexing the old URL.
In Terms of SEO
A 301 redirect when used, Google removes or deindex the old URL from the index and the link equity is passed on to the mentioned URL. It might take search engines to notice the change and act accordingly.
A 302, when used correctly, will not hurt SEO, as the search engine know that its a temporary redirect, So the search engine keeps indexing the old URL and will not pass any link equity to the new one.
If you need a detailed guide on how to implement redirects then read an article from MOZ on Redirects.
The 404 Sidenote
If we are talking about redirects then it’s a good idea to discuss a bit on 404 also. A 404 is an error, not a redirect but it does impact the SEO.
404 error occurs when the webpage is deleted or moved without any redirection and the link still remains. It can potentially harm your SEO efforts.
This is when you should decide on 301 or 302 or if you don’t have any links for them , then do create a custom 404 page and design in the way that it should present the user with proper and specific navigation links to your website or a page with relevant topic, So that the user can stay engaged in your website.
Whatever the redirect you want to use keep in the mind to read through it in order to understand the difference. It will not take much time to understand the difference in 301 and 302 redirects as much as it will take after a wrong redirect.
You can also check out Neil Patel’s Video for the same:
Choose wisely Rank well