What is the difference between 301 and 302 redirects?

Michel BardelmeijerMichel Bardelmeijer
Michel Bardelmeijer

The short answer is a 301 redirect is a permanent redirect while a 302 redirect is a temporary redirect. Let’s take a better look at 301 and 302 redirects to learn more about their differences and similarities. 

What is a 301 redirect?

A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect. This means that the page has been permanently moved to the new URL and therefore should be replaced in search results with the new URL. There are many different use cases for 301s, but it's best to think about them as your 'long-term' redirects.

301 redirects also transfer most of the SEO value from your old page to your new one. 

A 301 redirect is ideal if you have a change in your content structure, product names, or just want to streamline your website URL structure.

What is a 302 redirect?

A 302 redirect is a temporary redirect. It’s used when you want to temporarily send visitors and search engine spiders to a different URL than the one they originally requested, without permanently moving your content. This redirect can be used while site maintenance is taking place or when updating pages and should not be left in place for long periods of time.

302s are often used for A/B testing. When you’re testing alternative design versions on your website, it makes sense to use 302s (temporary) instead of 301s (permanent) as otherwise your test results might be skewed by using a permanent redirect which could cause some visitors to see the same version repeatedly.

302 redirects are not cached by search engines so they do not pass any link juice or PageRank from the original page to the redirected page. Because of this, you should never use them in place of 301s for SEO purposes.

What Are Some Best Practices For 301 Redirects?

As with any aspect of digital marketing, there are a lot of best practices to consider when implementing 301 redirects.

Test, test, test. It's important to ensure your 301 redirect is working correctly by verifying that the page you're redirecting from doesn't return an error and that the page you're redirecting to is appearing as expected. You can do this in Google Search Console or by using a tool such as redirect.pizza tester.

Use permanent (301) redirects over temporary (302) ones because search engines pass link juice automatically through 301s but not through 302s. If you have to use a 302 for some reason, make sure to apply it only temporarily and then change it back to a 301 once you're finished troubleshooting or experimenting.

What are some best practices for 302 redirects?

302 redirects are great for temporary A/B testing.

302 redirects are useful for temporarily redirecting a page or site, often if a site goes down for maintenance.

If you're an affiliate marketer, you can use 302 redirects to obscure your affiliate links. Affiliate link cloaking is when you make your link look more attractive and easier to remember, usually by placing it on top of your own domain—in this way, it's less likely that people will mess with the URL before they hit "buy," or that they'll be able to tell if the product you're offering even has an affiliate program!

While 301 redirects pass some SEO equity to their destination pages, 302 redirects do not. Thus, if you want to preserve SEO value in a permanent URL redirection situation (where both of the moved pages are important), then it's best to use 301 redirects instead.

Why Using 301 And 302 Redirects Is Best

On top of everything you’ve already learned, the correct use of redirects has one more important benefit: it makes your users happy. Any time a user tries to access a page that doesn’t exist, they will be redirected to the main page (if there is no 301 or 302 redirect in place), and this is a very frustrating user experience.

Using 301 and 302 redirects also helps maintain traffic as well as link juice, which will help boost your site’s SEO rankings. If you have an e-commerce site with many products that change regularly – like seasonal items – it’s especially important to use a proper redirect strategy so those seasonal items are automatically redirected without causing any frustration for users who click on links only to find the product is no longer available.

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