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

Posted by in SEO

Many clients have asked me:

  1. What is the difference between a 301 redirect and a 302 redirect?
  2. When should I use a 301?
  3. And, when should I use a 302?
In the spirit of doing more with less, instead of answering the questions individually, here is a post that can benefit anyone who has ever wondered about these questions.
What is the difference between a 301 redirect and a 302 redirect?
The main difference between a 301 redirect and a 302 redirect is that a 301 is a “permanent” redirect and a 302 is “temporary”.
This has implications not for users, but search engines and the authority transfer within the website.  If a new page on a website is created (the site structure might have changed, or a new website is built) that replaces an old or existing page, a redirection is recommend.
When should I use a 301?
A 301 redirect is needed when a the new page is to replace an old page.  I have seen a number of  times error pages that no longer exist on the website ranking higher than pages that do exist because a 301 hasn’t been used. By using a 301, the authority & link juice of the page is transferred onto the new page, which will then, “in theory” replace the old page in the SERPs.
And, when should I use a 302?
A 302 redirect should be used very sparingly, I can’t think of too many examples of when you would actually use a 302.  One example might be during a website redevelopment, if your website is down and you want to direct your traffic somewhere else in the interim.  Then once your new website is live, you can simply remove the 302 & the traffic will go to the new website again.
There are a number of ways to perform 301 and 302 redirects.  Depending on your technical ability, some methods are recommended and some aren’t.  The easiest way to make 301s is from a plugin to your CMS.  There are tonnes of these available for WordPress and Joomla and lots of other popular content management systems.  Depending on your website’s server, server-side redirects are quite easy as well. And a third way is via the HTaccess file, however I don’t recommend modifying this crucial file unless you are 100% sure you know what you are doing.
I hope this has helped to clear up some of the confusion about 301 and 302 redirects. Until next time!

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