The Most Important Reasons to Use a 302 Redirect

The Most Important Reasons to Use a 302 Redirect

Not sure what a 302 redirect is or when to use them? Are you curious about the impact on your SEO efforts?

I’ve got good news: 302 redirects are actually pretty simple. At its core, a 302 redirect is a way to tell search engines and users that a page has moved temporarily and to direct them to a new page for a short period.

Simple enough, right?

The problem is using the wrong redirect can significantly impact SEO and user experience. This is why getting the redirect right is crucial to your overall digital marketing strategy.

So what’s the difference between the types of redirects, and when should you use a 302? Here’s what you need to know.

What’s the Difference Between a 302 Redirect and 301 Redirect?

A 302 redirect is an HTTP response status code that tells search engines a page has moved, but only temporarily. It then directs users (and search engines) to the new, temporary page.

A 301 redirect is a server-side HTTP response status code that tells users and search engines a page has permanently moved, and it won’t be coming back.

For users, there’s little difference between the two types of redirects. They get sent to a new (hopefully more useful) page regardless of the redirect type.

The core difference between a 302 redirect and a 301 redirect is the amount of time the redirect is in place, but a 302 also leaves something important behind: link equity and page rank.

When you use a 302 redirect, the original page usually maintains its Google ranking, so it shouldn’t impact your SEO efforts. However, a 301 redirect causes the original page to lose ranking and can cause it to be deindexed by search engines.

According to Google, the main reasons to use a 301 (permanent) redirect are:

  • You’ve changed domains
  • People access your site through multiple URLs
  • You are merging two websites or pages

You might also use a 301 redirect when switching from HTTP to HTTPS or when you merge two related pages. Any time you move a page and have no intentions of bringing it back, use a 301.

When you use a 301 redirect, the original page is no longer considered by Google, which is the main reason you want to ensure you use the correct type of redirect.

Say you’ve spent years establishing a pillar content page to rank for a key term in your industry. You decide to take the page down for a few days to redesign and update the page. If you use a 301 redirect, Google thinks the page is gone forever and removes the page from indexing.

Ouch.

Use a 302 and Google knows the page is coming back.

The type of redirect you use severely impacts your SEO, so make sure you always use the correct type for the situation.

Four Reasons to Use a 302 Redirect

So, what are the exact benefits of using a 302 redirect? Not all redirects are created equal, and using the wrong redirect can have a severe impact on your site’s SEO, as we’ve already covered.

Remember, a 301 redirect is permanent. You are telling Google and users that the page is gone and will never return. If the change is not permanent, you’ll want to use a 302 redirect.

Here are a few benefits of using a 302 over a 301 redirect.

302 Redirects Improve UX

Few things are more frustrating than clicking on a link and not finding the content you expect. It’s enough to send most users back to the search results (and to a competitor).

A 302 redirect makes sure users and search engines always find the content they are looking for. For example, if a product is temporarily out of stock, you might use a 302 redirect to send customers to a related product page or a page letting them know when the product is likely to be back in stock. You might also use a 302 to send users to related content while you redesign a pillar content page.

302 Redirects Are Temporary

Unlike 301 pages, 302 redirects are temporary, which means you can switch back at any time. This provides a lot of flexibility for site owners. For example, you could temporarily send site users to a related page while you redesign a landing page.

Because the switch is temporary, Google won’t remove the page from search results or otherwise devalue the page in its ranking.

302 Redirects Shouldn’t Hurt Your SEO

A 302 redirect tells Google (and all other search engines) that the move is temporary and preserves the page’s ranking and link equity. As a result, implementing the redirect shouldn’t impact your SEO. That means all your hard work won’t be in vain!

When the page no longer needs to be redirected, simply remove the redirect, and your SEO shouldn’t be affected.

302 Redirects Are Easier to Implement

Creating a 301 redirect requires access to your server, which means most digital marketers and site owners have to enlist the help of a developer to implement a 301 redirect. 302 redirects, however, can be created relatively easily using meta tags or a WordPress plugin. That means you can quickly implement them and easily take them down.

Note: Do not use 302 redirects when permanently moving a page just because they are easier. If a page move is permanent, always use a 301 redirect. Depending on your site, 301 redirects might be easy enough to create. If you aren’t sure where to start, head to your host’s knowledge base or look for a WordPress plugin.

When Should You Use a 302 Redirect?

Remember, the core difference between 301 and 302 redirects is the permanency of the move. If you are moving a page for a short time, you’ll want to use a 302 redirect to preserve the original page’s integrity (and ranking).

Let’s look at a few examples of when you’d want to use a 302.

When a Page Is Moved Temporarily

A 302 redirect makes no practical difference for users. They still get sent to the new page regardless. For search engines, however, the temporary nature of the switch is crucial.

Essentially, you are telling search engines, “Hey, don’t worry about this page right now; the other page will be back soon.”

If you are confident the move is temporary, 302 is the way to go. For example, you might move a page temporarily because:

  • You are updating the page, but the new page isn’t live yet
  • You’re looking to get feedback about a new page before moving permanently
  • You’re running a time-sensitive promotion and want to redirect visitors to the page for a short time

When a Page Is Under Development

Another reason to use a temporary redirect is when a page (or website) is under development. Extensive redesigns might require taking your site offline, which can be frustrating for users and confusing for search engines.

Rather than leaving users hanging, a temporary redirect lets them know the page or site will be back very soon.

In this situation, you might send users to an email sign-up page or to offer a countdown clock so they know when the site will be back. Here’s an example of a countdown page from Themeforest with a countdown clock:

The page also offers links to social media accounts to help build a social media presence.

When the Content Is Inactive or the Page Broken

You might also use a 302 redirect when a page is broken or inactive. You don’t want users to land on a blank page (or get a 404 error), so a temporary redirect may be the way to go. Remember, only use a 302 if you plan to bring the page back.

For example, the content might be inactive because you run a semi-annual sign-up period for a membership site or you have a landing page for a recurring webinar that’s currently unavailable. A 302 should ensure the site maintains its SEO ranking and is ready to go when you want to reactivate the page.

When a Product Is Unavailable

Think about the last time you tried to order an item online, only to find out the product was no longer in stock. You were so close to having that item in your hands, only to find out it’s gone, and you have no idea when it might be available again.

It’s frustrating, and you’re likely to head to a competitor to complete your purchase. This is why stockouts (when a product is out of stock or unavailable) can hurt overall revenue and impact brand trust.

The reality is, items will sometimes go out of stock. It’s just part of doing business. A manufacturer might run out, or the supply chain might otherwise be impacted by something out of your control.

While you might not always be able to control stockouts, you can use redirects to preserve user experience. For example, you might use a 302 redirect to send users to a waitlist page, like this one:

You could also send users to a related product (just be sure to let them know!). When the product is back in stock, you can reactivate the original page and preserve all that SEO you worked so hard for.

When A/B Testing Content or Design

Whether you are in e-commerce, the service industry, or run a local business, A/B testing is crucial to your bottom line. A/B testing allows you to test two different versions of the same page to see which version drives conversions, sales, or any other behavior you want users to take.

For example, I used A/B testing to figure out which CTAs to use in the sidebar of my website.

It turns out, the orange button converted much better than other colors.

Here’s another example of the power of A/B testing: WallMonkeys, a company offering wall decals and murals, increased conversions by 550% by using A/B testing to figure out what site users were more likely to respond to.

So where do 302 redirects come into play?

Well, you don’t want to permanently redirect your page because you might find out the original page was the best! Instead, use a 302 redirect to temporarily send a portion of your users to the adjusted page without losing your ranking. When the test is over, you can remove the redirect and go right back to normal.

If you are struggling with A/B testing, check out this guide for creating a winning A/B testing strategy.

To Redirect to the Desktop or Mobile Version of Your Site

If you aren’t already offering a mobile-friendly website, it is past time to do so. Seriously. Google moved to mobile-first indexing in the summer of 2019.

Your site should already work well on both mobile and desktop, but there are some reasons why you might still have a mobile version of a website.

For example, a banking app might offer a streamlined version of their website for mobile users, or they might find most mobile users are looking for a branch location. A 302 can send those users to the most useful page. You might also use a streamlined navigation bar for mobile and allow desktop users to access the complete version.

In both cases, a 302 redirect ensures every user lands on the site most useful to them.

Conclusion

Redirects can get confusing: 301s, 302s, plus 404 errors for when pages are broken.

Navigating these can be a pain if you are not a developer or a technical SEO expert. Hopefully, I’ve helped you better understand when and why you’d want to use 302 redirects on your site.

Here’s the TL;DR version: 302 redirects are temporary and generally preserve the SEO of the original page. 301 pages are permanent and tell search engines to disregard the old page in favor of the new page.

Now that you understand the difference, make sure to implement the right one on your site.

Have you used a temporary redirect before? What challenges did you face?

How to Prevent Redirect Chains from Destroying Your SEO

How to Prevent Redirect Chains from Destroying Your SEO

Have a website? Then you’ve likely heard about search engine optimization (SEO) — the process of making your site easier to find, crawl, and rank for search engines.

The better your SEO, the higher your website ends up on search engine ranking pages (SERPs) — as a result, the greater the chance of your site being noticed by potential customers.

And with 68% of all website traffic coming from organic and paid searches — rather than through social media shares and other marketing channels — the right SEO strategy is critical.

Free Guide: How to Run a Technical SEO Audit

Many SEO techniques are straightforward: Don’t keyword stuff. Keep your content relevant. Improve your website’s user experience (UX) by cutting complexity and boosting speed. But other metrics also matter.

Case in point? Redirect chains. These interconnected Internet issues cause problems for search engine spiders, frustration for users, and potential problems for your page ranking.

But what exactly is a redirect chain? Why is it potentially problematic? And how do you find and remove these unintentional website course corrections? Here’s what you need to know.

Learn about what web optimization is and how to do it with this free course. 

What is a redirect chain?

A redirect chain occurs when there’s more than one redirect between the initial link users click on and the eventual destination page.

There are two common types of redirects: 301 and 302.

301 redirects happen when the destination page permanently links to a new URL and 302 redirects point to temporary pages while new content is created or websites are built. From an SEO perspective, both are treated the same.

Consider a backlink from a reputable site that leads to a page on your site, which we’ll call URL A. If users click on the link and are taken directly to URL A, it’s considered to be a single 301 redirect. Perfect.

But what happens if the content on URL A needs a refresh? You update the content with URL B, then set URL A to redirect users to the new page. This causes a redirect chain — your backlink leads to URL A which redirects to URL B. Add new pages and the chain gets longer and longer, and longer…

Two Reasons for Redirects

In most cases, redirect chains are unintentional, and they typically happen for one of two reasons:

1. Content Updates

Since changing backlinks on other sides isn’t easy — you’d need to get in contact with the site owner, ask them to amend the link, and hope they have the time to do so — it’s often quicker to simply redirect the initial backlink to a new URL. As websites grow and content changes, however, the number of steps between the initial click and eventual destination can increase dramatically.

2. URL Specifics

Redirect chains also occur when businesses rapidly scale up their website and small issues with URL specifics turn into larger redirect problems. For instance, consider the URL:

http://www.yoursite.com/products

Since it lacks the https now expected for secure website browsing, you update the URL to:

https://www.yoursite.com/products

This creates a redirect, but there’s another issue — no trailing slash after “products”. So what happens? You amend the URL again:

https://www.yoursite.com/products/

The result? You’ve gone from one to three redirects with only minor changes. Combined with new content generation and applied to your site at scale, it’s easy to see how redirects can quickly get out of hand.

The Negative SEO Impact of Redirect Chains

What’s the big problem with redirect chains, anyway? Since the links point users and search engine crawlers in the right direction, what does it matter if it takes a few extra steps?

As is turns out, large redirect chains can significantly impact your spot in SERPs for three reasons:

1. Link Juice Loss

The “boost” your site gets from reputable backlinks is often called “link juice” — the more juice you get, the better for your search rankings.

With just one redirect from a backlink to your site, you get 100% of the juice. Add another 301 redirect and you’re getting (on average) about 85% of the link juice. Add another and you get 85% of 85%, or just over 72%. The more links, the less juice.

2. Reduced Site Performance

It makes sense: The longer the chain, the more time it takes your destination page to load as browsers work their way through link after link. And with site performance now a critical factor in boosting SEO, more redirects mean lower rankings for your page.

3. Crawling Concerns

Search engine bots will only crawl so much before giving up. Called their “crawl budget”, most smaller websites don’t need to worry about search spiders spending their entire budget before reaching the end of the site — unless redirects start to ramp up.

The bigger and more numerous your redirect chains, the longer it takes for search engines to reach the end. Eventually, they’ll just stop looking.

Also worth mentioning are redirect loops. Here, initial links lead to URL A, then URL B and the URL C, and then back to URL A — causing a loop. Eventually, browsers stop redirecting and users end up with no content. Not surprisingly, your SEO suffers.

How to Find Redirect Chains

While you could go through your site manually and evaluate every page, every link, and every redirect, this is both time and resource-intensive — especially if you’re in the middle of site expansion or rolling out a new content strategy.

Best bet? Use online redirect checker tools to determine where your links are working as intended and where they create potentially problematic chains. Some popular solutions include:

1. Redirect-checker.org

Simply type in your http:// or https:// URL to discover any 301 or 302 redirects for a specific page. This free tool is great if you’re only worried about specific URLs but isn’t ideal for checking your entire site.

2. Sitebulb

Sitebulb delivers a host of reports that evaluate how crawl-friendly your site is, where redirect issues exist, and how links are distributed across your site. Sitebulb offers a 14-day free trial followed by a monthly subscription model.

3. Screaming Frog

The SEO Spider from Screaming Frog lets you find broken links, audit link redirects, and discover duplicate content. SEO Spider comes in both free and paid versions — the biggest difference is that the free version will only crawl 500 URLs while the paid version offers unlimited redirect reports.

4. DeepCrawl

DeepCrawl bills itself as the “world’s best website crawler” and offers three plans: Light, Light Plus, and Enterprise. The Light plan is designed for one project and 10,000 URLs per month, while Light Plus offers 40,000 URLs, and Enterprise comes with unlimited redirect reconnaissance.

How to Remove a Redirect Chain

Once you’ve found redirect chains, removing them is straightforward — simply change the redirect link of the first destination page to the final URL rather than pointing it toward another redirect.

In practice, this means changing the redirect of URL A, in our example above, to URL C rather than URL B — in turn, skipping the middle step and ensuring your site doesn’t lose any link juice or SEO ranking. If URL B is still backlinked by other sites, you can leave its redirect to URL C intact. If it only exists as a bridge between the older URL A and the newer URL C, it’s worth removing redirects entirely and deleting or archiving the page.

Remember — every 301 redirect after the initial jump costs your site approximately 15% of potential link juice. Fill your SERP cup by cutting down redirects wherever possible.

How to Prevent Redirect Chains

To prevent redirect chains from building up over time, it’s worth regularly checking your site with redirect tools like those mentioned above. It’s also a good idea to keep a record of new URLs as they’re created — either by using a shared spreadsheet or by leveraging automated tools for this purpose — to help ensure that new URLs are connected to the first 301 redirect rather than those further down the chain.

Breaking Bad (Chains)

Although it’s not possible to entirely avoid redirect chains from backlinks and other dofollow sources, SEO starts to suffer the longer these chains become. Best bet? Use robust redirect tools to find long-tail chains, break them into smaller pieces wherever possible, and develop URL management frameworks to reduce redirect risks.

seo audit

Will a 301 Redirect Passes Page rank? Matt Cutts Video

Will a 301 Redirect Passes Page rank? Matt Cutts Video

Will a 301 Redirect Passes Page rank? Matt Cutts Video

By

301 Redirects

One thing which in particular I like about Google Webmaster videos is, they clear our SEO doubts, but at the same time Matt Cutts like to keep the confusions on. You could totally understand that from the video below, and I will later on explain this with my example below:

One of the most common technique which has been used from long time is passing the link juice by using a 301 redirect. In fact, when you delete a post with a good page authority from your domain, a good practice is to add a 301 redirect to the page to another relevant page from your domain, or let it be 404 error page.

When you make it a 404 error page, it doesn’t give you any SEO advantage & you might end up losing the page value.

Where as when you redirect the page to another relevant page or your blog homepage, it transfer the link juice to the page or your homepage. Well, it’s been a fair practice so far, and it’s not only good for user experience but also for Google bots.

However this technique could easily be use to misuse the whole practice of passing link juice to a page, and later on, 301 redirects that page to another domain. You can also use this practice by buying a high PR domain, and 301 redirect it to your main blog and hope to see an increase in your main blog page rank.

I have seen this one happening with few guest posts on my blog, when a guest author take a link back to a legitimate webpage, and later on, that page is re-directed to the another big site page, and needless to say it carries the whole link juice along with it.

Honestly, it’s no brainer to realize such practice should be considered as SEO black hat techniques, but Google seems to be very reluctant about the same till now.

Matt Cutts view on 301 redirects and passing link juice

I have always been a big believer of using white hat SEO techniques, as it may be slow, but it works when you are playing long-term game. If you know about Page rank or link juice, it actually get divided into number of outgoing link, and less number of links you have on your page, more link juice you would passing to linked pages.

One way you can control flow of link juice is by using Nofollow tag, though Google made it clear that they don’t take nofollow tag in account. And, I don’t believe whatever Google says.

In a recent video Matt Cutts talked about passing link juice via 301 redirects, and according to him, it does work, which makes complete sense. Though, back in 2010, when Eric Enge interviewed Matt, he confirmed that 301 perm-redirection doesn’t pass the 100% link juice, but below video says something else.

Matt made a point that this technique works till now, but there is no guarantee that it will keep working in coming future. The way I see it, this technique is not only exploited by a spammer, but it’s in fact a black hate SEO technique to pass the link benefits.

You can easily buy a domain with high PR in the same niche and add a 301 redirection to take advantage of link juice. How easy it is to take a high Page rank. Well, I have not used this technique, but I have tried getting PR 3 with blog commenting, and it worked.

You can get more traffic with a PR 0 blog compare to a blog with PR3+. So far, Google page rank is directly proportional to the number of quality links pointing to your site +_ other factors, but by the end of the that it’s the backlink which matters the most.

With 301 redirects, you can easily increase the number of backlinks pointing to your site, and it helps in increasing the Page Rank. This method will work only if you are making a 301 perm-redirection from related website. And if you manage to get such links from irrelevant sites, do keep Google Penguin update in your mind.

I’m not sure if the answer in above video is something which we should believe in, but as long as I know, this technique is being exploited for long, and you might not like to overdo this technique for improving page rank of your website.

Do let me know, in what cases you are using 301 redirections? Have you seen this 301 perma-redirection working for you?

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