301 vs. 302 Redirect: Which One is Best for SEO?

Road sign for 301 vs 302 redirect

There’s been a lot of confusion on which redirect to use for search engine optimisation. If you own a business website, you may need the help of web designers who are familiar with web design for businesses and are aware of the most suitable redirect to use for SEO. There have been lots of articles that were written about the 301 and 302 redirects before. In which a lot of people have suggested that the 302 redirect may not pass the Page Rank and that the 301 redirects are much more suitable for SEO.

In 2019, how has the redirect scenario changed for SEO Best Practices?

Let’s find out:

Well first of all, a lot of us may be beginners and even before wanting to know the difference of 301 vs 302 redirects, they want to know what it is that we are talking about. Being 301 and 302 redirects are two different things, they have different functions as well. This distinction is important to ensure that your website is working correctly.

To better understand, we need to review this topic in detail from the very beginning. Then it will be much easier to understand how it may affect the search engine optimisation of your website.

What is a Redirect?

In normal vocabulary, redirection is the action of changing one’s direction from one to assigning or directing to a new or different place, purpose, or direction. In terms of the internet, it almost certainly refers to the process of URL redirection or URL forwarding.

A URL redirect is a technique used to direct both website visitors and search engines like Google from the requested URL address to a different URL. So, not only is this an issue dealing directly with customers for a business website, it is an integral part of SEO and Google ranking factors. The two most popular redirects being our topic today – 301 vs 302 redirects.

What are the 2 types of Redirects? What do these numbers mean?

One: 301 Redirect = “Moved Permanently” (Recommend Best Practice for SEO)

Two: 302 Redirect = “Found” or “Moved Temporarily”

First of all, the numbers represent codes from the official registry of HTTP status codes. They are divided into 5 classes of status codes. The codes starting with 3 refer to the redirect class, as is their function. But you can do without this information, let’s move on to why they are important!

Why do you need Redirects?

With any growing website, just like a business, there are constantly new content and changes. With a lot of web pages being built on your website, it gets difficult to work with the URL structure in order for you to inform search engines know which is correct or which has more importance.

In addition, search engines like Google, may not be aware of the changes and of course will not be able to know which pages you want to be treated with more priority. So, when you update a page by changing its location, google remembers both locations. Google may think you have duplicate content in two places although you want only one page to be visible. Since unique content is crucial for the Google algorithm to get better ranking, multiple pages with similar or same content is huge red flag! This is when you need a redirect for Google and ultimately, for your potential customers.

Link Juice is an essential aspect of SEO and without proper redirects, your website will lose out on its due “link juice” or ranking value for Google. So, you need to inform Google that a page, content, URL, or site has moved by redirecting them to make sure that you don’t lose ranking value or your current rank.

So, which one should you use 301 vs. 302 redirect?

What is a 301 redirect?

A 301 redirect or moved permanently, as we know from before, is used as an absolute relocation. So, you tell the search engine that your content has moved permanently to a new location.

When should you use a 301 redirect?

You should use 301 redirect when you change your domain, or launched a new CMS for your website, or the URL structure has changed for any reason. Essentially, you are connecting your old content (a domain, page, content, etc.) from its present location A to a new location B. This sort of permanent move must be informed as it is crucial for ranking and to avoid any penalties by Google.

Do you have to use 301 redirect to permanently move content from one web page to another?

The answer is yes. If you want to make sure that the search engine understands that your URL or universal resource locator has been moved permanently to a new location with the same amount of content, then you definitely should use the 301 redirect. Now if you’re wondering if the 301 can pass Page Rank, yes, it can.

What is a 302 redirect?

A 302 redirect or Found, or Moved Temporarily, as we know now is a temporary move. This means the link does not require its ranking value and other factors to be carried over. It simply gets the user to an appropriate location until the issue is resolved, instead of showing a broken link and potentially losing that visitor.

When should you use a 302 redirect?

One of the most common logic maybe, that since 301 redirect holds SEO value while 302 redirect does not, then the decision should be quite simple. But it is important to consider the types of businesses running websites as well.

For example, an eCommerce business with a temporarily unavailable product or a seasonal product or a product out of stock will be able to use the 302 redirect to send the user to a more useful page. When the product is available, the page will simply be back and search engine crawlers will know to hold the ranking value and other associated factors intact for the page.

Worldwide Optimisation

If you are only concerned with Google, you don’t really need to be as concerned about redirects anymore. If you’re going to follow Google’s advice and use the kind of redirect that you believe is more appropriate to your given situation, then you probably won’t have any indexing issues with Google. However, if you’re based in the United States, Google might not be the only one you will have to worry about. In 2018, Bing claimed to have 33% of the market share but according to GlobalStats, since then till January 2019 Bing holds 1.74% of the US market. Also, Yahoo holds 2.65% percent of the market. Given that the search volume and internet users in the US, the percentage represent quite a large number of the population.

If you are optimising for web users based in China, in which Google currently has only 0.32% of the market, then you should care more about what Shenma and Baidu are saying regarding redirects instead of what Bing or Google is saying. Baidu holds 71.82% share of the market in China and Shenma holds 20.97%. You must also use permanent redirects for the permanently moved URL just to be sure. Google holds just over half of the market share in Russia at 51.07%. Yandex RU holds the Russian market share of 47.49%. If that’s your target market, then you will need to brush up on its algorithm.

Best Practice

If you are redirecting one URL to an equivalent content and you don’t expect for such content to go back to the original URL and you want the link equity to pass sooner than later, then you should opt for the 301 redirect. Generally, you can never go wrong with a 301 redirect when redirecting a permanently moved equivalent content.

Final Thoughts

If you are still confused on what redirect to use for SEO, then ask yourself this question – is your old content similar to the new content? If the answer is no, then use the 404. Otherwise, ask yourself if your old content will be coming back. If yes, then go for the 302. But if not, then use the 301. Don’t worry if you still can’t figure it out. A professional who’s knowledgeable about web design and search engine optimisation will be able to take care of this for you.

Be sure to pay close attention because it is simply silly to redo your content distribution and other efforts for the difference between the digits of 301 vs 302 redirect. While it is best to use 301 redirect in most cases due to its SEO value, you want to consider if you have other intentions such as testing multiple landing pages or you are marketing to a different geographic region.

If you have further questions 301 vs 302 redirect, get in touch with the SEO services on offer by The Web Designer Group for a free consultation.