301 vs 302 Redirect – SEO FAQs Simply Answered
Redirects are quite common while you may be dealing with websites and the web.
Although 301 and 302 redirects are frequented as HTTP status codes, most of the users fail to recognize them. These redirects tend to help admins settled things that may have gone wrong. These are the codes that users come across while communicating with one another.
There are several considerable status codes like the two; ranging from 100 to 404 (page not found) or 504 (server time out).
In this article, you will find info related to:
- 301 vs 302 redirect and SEO benefits
- When to use 301 or 302 redirection
- How to set up redirects, and
- How to implement redirections
So, here we go…
What is a Redirect?
A redirect could be considered as a way to send both search engines and user to a different page or URL than the one they originally requested.
There are three redirects that are most commonly used: 301, 302 and Meta Refresh.
301 Redirect: Move Permanently
The 301 redirect is known to be a permanent redirect that passes between the link equity of 90 to 99 per cent for a redirect page. 301 is addressed as an HTTP status code for redirects of this type.
In most situations, 301 redirect is regarded as the best method for the implementation of redirects over a website.
302 Redirect: Found (HTTP 1.1) / Moved Temporarily (HTTP 1.0)
Several Google employees pointed out cases where 301 and 302 redirects have been treated similarly. However, there were later shreds of evidence that bring up things quite differently. As per those, using 301 redirect for redirecting URLs permanently could be the most secure ways to ensure that various browsers and search engines give full credits.
The Internet functions along HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol) which guides the working of various URLs. There are two main versions of the 302: 1.0 and 1.1.
The first version (i.e. 1.0) of 302 refers to “Moved Temporarily” and the next version (i.e. 1.1) it was changed to be meaning “Found”.
Uses of 301 vs 302 Redirect
While there are several factors, differentiating these redirects, their uses also tend to vary.
Using 301 Redirect
This redirect is mostly used by people when they have purchased a domain and want to send visitors to their primary domain. These are generally brand variations or domains that possess higher “domain authority”. It would also be suitable to 301 redirect when you’re seeking to establish a domain as your default website: “yourwebsite.com” or “www.yourwebsite.com”.
Many users leave “www” in order to ensure that users end up on your website even if they miss out typing “www” before the domain name and guarantee that they are directed to your page.
It would also be great to use 301 when you’re merging two websites or come across outdated URLs on your page.
Using 302 Redirect
Such redirects should be used when you are seeking to send users to a new page or website for a considerably short duration. It may generally happen when you’re updating or redesigning your website. Using a 302 redirect could be relevant when you’re actually going to bring back the old page.
You can consider using 302 redirect even in cases where you are testing new pages or looking for feedbacks from customer’s feedbacks without losing your existing traffic.
When should you use a 301 and 302 redirect?
Being a permanent redirect, 301 redirects may not be preferable while the need to make temporary changes to your website or other instances like A/B testing. Some considerable uses of this redirect are:
- Links for any outdated URLs may be required directing to the desired page. This could also, include cases where the merging of two websites or webpages that might be migrating permanently is required.
- There may be several URLs that are used to access your website. Select only one URL as canonical and set a destination you prefer. Make use of 301 redirects to direct traffic to a new or existing URL.
- It may be helpful when you have given your website to a new domain name and may want to ensure that it is transitioned to your old site as seamlessly as possible.
- It would be worth when you conduct HTTP to HTTPS migrations.
There are many instances where 302 redirects would prove to be of great use. You may consider adding a 302 redirect for following purposes:
- A/B testing of webpages for their design or functionality.
- Obtaining client feedback for new pages without really affecting the existing traffic.
- Updating web pages while seeking to provide users with consistent experiences.
- Maintaining a good user experience while dealing with a broken webpage.
302 are known to be temporary redirects. These are generally used when the webmasters are required to gather feedback or assess performance. 302 redirects cannot be used as permanent solutions for your websites.
How do these redirects impact SEO?
While many users may not consider redirects to be significant enough, there are actually many benefits that they can have with regards to the SEO. When you use 301 redirect against any of your pages, Google tends to remove those pages from their index and the link value from the considerable page is said to be transferred to the new one. In light of this information, an important fact can be considered.
When you move your page from an existing URL to a new one, Google tends to take some time for recognizing the same. Therefore, the decisions you make with regards to this shift may impact your website’s potential rankings and traffic. A 302 redirect would not hurt any of your SEO efforts when used carefully. When you decide to use such redirects, the original page isn’t removed from the Google indexing. Here, the search engine has clear indications that the new link is introduced temporarily.
Thus, you may be able to retain any traffic value, rankings and authority that are held by the page. When the difference between 301 and 302 redirect is not clear, problems tend to arise. Out of confusions people often choose 302 for permanently redirecting a website.
Basically, they create a new site or page and do not transfer any of the value and traffic they have acquired over all this with their old page. Hence, it is quite essential to know the difference between 301 and 302 redirects for using them appropriately.
How to set up a 301 Redirect?
If you’re not sure about the procedure for redirects, this content is going to help you well. As per Google, you will have to access .htaccess file of your server to implement 301 redirect for your website that’s hosted on Apache.
If you are not sure about the best ways of doing this, it would be good to refer an Apache tutorial or a guide for URL rewriting. If your servers aren’t hosted on Apache, it is suggestible to seek help from your hosting providers.
If your website is hosted on WordPress, you may utilize various plugins that make redirection easier. Some suitable plugins for your help are listed below:
- Redirection: this plugin is intended especially for 404 errors and 301 redirects.
- Simple 301 redirects: as the name suggests, it can help you deal with redirects perfectly.
- SEO redirection: You can create both 301 and 302 redirects with the help of this plugin.
Here’s how you can set up 301 redirect in different cases:
Redirecting a page
Redirecting old pages or a complete folder of pages to other locations on your site with 301 redirects would require a few changes in the hosting settings. You will be required to add “Old Path” in the old URL within the field “Redirect to Page”.
Enter a redirect path and publish your website. Enter the old URL in a tab on your browser to test the redirect.
Redirect a folder
In order to redirect a complete folder, consider adding a capture group (.*) in the older URL structure in the Field “Old Path”. Then proceed by adding a %1 target path for the new URL structure in the field “Redirect to Page”.
You may consider adding multiple capture groups for creating redirect groups that are more complex.
Redirecting entire domain
This can be easily done by merging one domain with the other to come up with one major domain with the new specifications you want.
How to set up a 302 redirect?
There are instances where 301 redirect isn’t really applicable. Properly planning the implementation of redirects makes the set up easy.
Here’s the procedure to set up a redirect:
- Since you will be required to change a few settings for handling redirects, access settings and go to “Expert Settings” in order to enable redirects. Well, this could be different based on the hosting you choose.
- You would find redirects within Expert Settings. Finish off with the requirements for adding a redirect. Enter the URLs appropriately and select 302 redirect.
Redirecting Canonical Hostnames
Canonicalization errors can create trouble while you move forward with the idea of redirecting. It is therefore important to avoid them for keeping things running on the right track. For example; the original developers redirect requests that do not include “www” before the domain name.
Redirecting without preserving File Name
Many times, files that may exist on the old several are not available on the new server. Preserving files during redirection may result in a 404 error. Therefore, instead of preserving file name you may choose to redirect the required old files to root URL belonging to the new domain.
Redirecting the GET String
Several PHP scripts tend to have different names however Get string remains the same. Developers may be required to redirect visitors towards newer PHP scripts while they preserve the GET strings. Get string is known to be a set of characters that are included after the filename in the URL and is used in order to transfer data to the webpage.
How to implement redirects?
As mentioned earlier, implementing a 301 redirect could be done generally via .htaccess file. This is a file regarding server configuration that consists of important settings with respect to changes within your WordPress website. You can easily find these within the root directory of your website (generally addressed as www or public_html). In other cases, you may look for it in the top-level directory belonging to WordPress installation.
Certainly, for this, you will have to access the site through FTP (File Transfer Protocol) for being able to edit .htaccess. There are several considerable applications that can be used for the purpose. If you are not well informed about the use of FTP, it would be suggestible to refer to the instructions of your web host and documentation. Once you successfully log into your server, you may not be able to see the .htaccess file. In order to resolve this Select Server > Force show hidden files within the settings of the application you’re using. If it’s still not done then there may be no .htaccess.
Fixing this would require you logging in to the WordPress dashboard of your website. Go to Settings > Permalinks and choose permalink settings and save the changes you make. This would force WordPress for creating a new .htaccess file. Ensure that you revert back to the original permalink settings after all this.
Now, you would be required to accomplish one more task before you proceed any further, that is backing up your website. Generally, a backup is recommendable before you make any changes within your WordPress installations. This will avail you a clean, reliable site to revert in case anything goes wrong.
301 vs 302 Redirect Response
While you may be ready with your plan to use 302 or 301 redirects, it is quite important to know the impact it would have on your “link juice”. Experts say that 301 and 302 redirects will not bring in any losses for your “link juice”.
There are also sceptics claiming that 301 redirects may result in about 15 per cent loss in the link juice. While a 302 redirect is being used, there’s likely to be no impact on the Page Authority, traffic Value and Page Ranking. However, using a 302 redirect by mistake may be a cause of confusion that would create a negative impact on the search engine visibility of your website.
Since each redirect is supposed to serve a different purpose, it may be important to consider the varied suitable uses of them. When you want to implement some permanent changes it would be considered to make use of 301 redirect since it can help in retaining the SEO visibility and could be understood by search engines. 302 redirects should be used only when temporary changes need to be made. They are however known to be used often because they are easier to establish than the 301 redirect.
The above details may help you deal perfectly with the redirects for your websites. You may come up with better decisions when considering the use of redirects and prevent any issues later.
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