301 vs. 302 Redirects: When to Use Them

301 vs. 302 Redirects: When to Use Them

You probably already know that proper redirection can make or break a site’s SEO, especially during migrations. You also probably know that there are different types of redirects available to use. But how do you know which one is appropriate?

The Difference Between 301 and 302 Redirects

Either SEOs aren’t very creative or they just really want to make things as straightforward as possible with their naming conventions. A 301 redirect (a.k.a. a 301 Permanent Redirect) is just as it sounds – a permanent redirect of a page to another URL.

A 302 redirect commonly returns the status of “Moved Temporarily”. This is because these are redirects reserved for when the URL change is…well, temporary.

When to Use 301 Redirects

Much like the name implies, a 301 redirect is a permanent move. These are typically best reserved for situations where URLs will be changing for good. Examples include when you are:

  • Updating outdated URLs to point users to a current page (such as when you move content during in a site migration or a merger)
  • Canonicalizing a site’s URL so that traffic is directed to only one preferred destination. This is especially handy when completing a http to https migration.

When to Use 302 Redirects

302 redirects are best reserved for situations where URLs and their content is being moved only temporarily. Some examples of these types of situations are:

  • Campaign promotions where you would like to direct users from a static page on your website to a campaign-specific URL (such as www.yourdomain.com to www.yourdomain.com/holiday-promotion-page).
  • When A/B testing a page or getting client feedback on a new page/site
  • When making live updates to a site.
  • When doing a phased roll out of a site migration/launch

Impact of 302 Redirects on PageRank

There has long been debate amongst SEOs as to whether or not 302 redirects are effective in passing on PageRank. While this may not have always been true, John Muller (a Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google) recently announced that 3xx redirects do not lose page rank anymore.

So which redirect is better? Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet and is a decision that should be made on a case-by-case basis. Before implementing redirects, exercise your best judgment. If you’re unsure, just remember to keep the end user in mind. If it makes sense for them, chances are it’s probably the right decision.

Do you have more questions about how redirects can affect your SEO efforts? Contact the SEO team at Volume Nine – we’re here to help!