June 28, 2021

301 vs 302 Redirect

by Walter
301 vs 302 Redirect | SEO Tanker

What is the difference between 301 and 302 redirects? What problems can you face when setting up a redirect? In this article, we will give a precise definition of the two main types of redirects, as well as provide clear recommendations when it is necessary to use one or another.

What is a redirect?

If you ever changed your residence address, you might have come across a service from the postal company, where it would deliver all the correspondence from your old address to a new one. While moving you might not have enough time to notify all your partners or service companies about the change in your address. At the same time you want to have a guarantee of getting all the letters from them, even if they are being sent to your old address where you are no longer present.

With a “redirect”, everything works similar. The user enters URL # 1 (site1.com) into the address bar of the browser, but in fact, URL # 2 (site2.com) opens. In other words, there is a forwarding from one address to another.

At first glance, it may seem incomprehensible why separate these 2 redirects at all? It doesn’t matter if you use a 301 or 302 redirect, the user from the old link will always be redirected to the new page. In fact, both redirects serve the same function.

However, most often, where 301 redirect is suitable, it is inappropriate and even dangerous to use 302 redirect, and vice versa. After all, despite some similarities between redirect 301 and 302, your SEO optimization can go completely the wrong way if you do not understand the features of using each of them.

301 Redirect

In short, setting up a 301 redirect is needed in the following cases:

• when the site mirrors are ‘glued together’ – for example, one with ‘www’ prefix, and the other without it;

• when the site moves to a new domain;

• when the project is transferred to a new CMS;

• when the URL changes;

• when duplicate pages are removed.

For website promotion, a 301 redirect is simply irreplaceable. Thanks to it, you can preserve your position in search engines. Without this connection between old and new URLs, search engines will consider them different and will not take into account their history, authority, rating, and other specs which we will be talking about later.

A correct 301 redirect involves working with .htaccess file: you need to create it, if it does not exist, and write the redirect code in it. For example, when the URL needs to be changed, the code would look like this:

Redirect 301 / old-address.html http://new-domain.com/new-address.html

If the web resource is transferred to the secure HTTPS protocol, the following code is written:

RewriteCond %{SERVER_PORT} !^443$

RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://site.ru/$1 [R=301,L]

Checking a 301 redirect is a prerequisite for completing the redirect setup. Check the page by going to it from the search and from other sections of the site.

302 redirect

A 302 redirect is a ‘temporary’ redirect of users from a page with one URL to a page with another URL.

Unlike its ‘close relative’, a 302 redirect is only a temporary redirect to another address, which implies a return to the old version in the indefinite future.

A 302 redirect is used by SEO specialists if the site is undergoing temporary technical work and the page content changes for the same limited period of time (for example, a message like ‘The page is under construction’ is placed on the page).

You should also opt for the 302 redirect if:

• it is important that the old page continues to be indexed;

• you want users to see only the new page;

• the absence of indexing of the final page is not critical;

• the original page contains links that should be further indexed;

• the landing page will change frequently.

A good example of a successful use of a 302 redirect is a promotions page in an online store. In order not to constantly redo the main page filled with content and promoted in search engines, you can temporarily redirect it to pages with lists of fresh promotions, which can even change daily.

301 and 302 redirects and their signals for search engines

In the context of search engine optimization, 301 and 302 redirects both drive the page’s appearance in SERPs. Moreover, each of them has its own unique influence on the perception of the original page by search engine bots.

A 301 redirect is a signal to a search engine that it can forget about the old page and can remove it from the search results.

A 302 redirect is an instruction not to forget an old page and continue indexing its contents, regardless of the duration of the redirect. In other words, with a 302 redirect, the original address remains in the SERP despite the redirect.

Risks of using 301 and 302 redirect

It should be borne in mind that when using 301 and 302 redirects, the difference in the risk of falling under the search engine filters is quite significant. 

301 redirects can be punished only if targeted attempts of getting valuable specs (authority, rating, backlinks) from different sites are detected. However, if the redirect 301 is done wisely it is highly unlikely that search engine will ban you. We will talk about clever ways of organizing 301 redirects in our next articles.

302 can often be recognized as an element that is often used in black SEO (as a kind of cloaking). After setting up a 302 redirect, the old URL remains in search results for 6 months. If the redirect is not removed, then the search engines put a new URL in the search results.

Getting power from old URL

It is also important to understand that when using 302 redirects, backlinks, authority, rating and, accordingly, traffic are not transferred to the new URL. This is not the case with the 301 redirect, which allows you to transfer all the power from the old URL to the new one. Many of our readers will be concerned with the question of how quickly the new page will receive this so-called power (rating, authority and backlinks) from the old page? Unfortunately, there is no exact answer to this question. It varies from case to case and depends mainly on Google and how quickly it indexes all backlinks from the old URL and associates them with the new URL. We can say from our experience, that this can take from several months to a year. There are ways to speed up this process, and we will share them with you in our next articles.