301 vs. 302 Redirect: Which One Do You Use and When?

Macy is a Content Writer at WebFX. With a Content Marketing Certification, she's an expert in crafting pieces filled with the facts about all things digital marketing. You'll find many of her pieces featured on UpCity's Top Digital Marketing Articles of the Week. When she isn't clacking her keys, she's wondering why her dog is so cute. Follow her on Twitter @iinfinitestorm.

You’ve decided to do some work on improving your business’s site. For some pages, you want to tweak the design to deliver a better experience. For other pages, you’re looking to move them to a new location. You know you need to use a forward type redirect, but which one?

If you’re looking at 301 vs. 302 redirects and aren’t sure which is best, don’t worry! We’ve got all the answers you need.

Keep reading to get answers to questions like:

  • What is a 301 redirect?
  • What is a 302 redirect?
  • What’s the difference between a 301 and 301 redirect?
  • Why does it matter what redirect you use?
  • Which forward type redirect is best?

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301 vs. 302 redirect: What are they?

Let’s look at each redirect and how they are different.

What is a 301 redirect?

A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect to a new page. This redirect means that a page has permanently moved to a new location.

 

 

Many companies will use 301 redirects to ensure that someone who types a URL without the “www” portion of the site ends up in the right place. Since many people often type a site URL without the “www”, it’s a common 301 redirect to use.

Another common use is when companies buy other domains and want to redirect people back to their websites. Many companies will purchase domains with misspellings of their company name in anticipation that people will mistype the URL. Google, for example, has a 301 redirect in place for “gooogle.com.”

 

Example of Google redirecting users to their site after using too many "o's" in their name.

 

What is a 302 redirect?

A 302 redirect is a temporary redirect to a different page. This redirect is used to send users to a new site or page for a short period of time because you need to redesign or update a page.

You only want to use this redirect if you’re planning to bring to original page back.

What’s the difference between a 301 and 302 redirect?

When you’re looking at 301 vs. 302 redirects, you can see that the most significant difference is their application.

A 301 redirect is meant for situations where you’re making permanent changes to your site. You’re moving your information to a new page or website with no intentions to go back to the other page.

The opposite is true with a 302 redirect. A 302 redirect is created to keep the original page.

Another difference between a 301 and 302 redirect is how search engines read them. We’ll dive more into this next, but search engines rely on you using the proper redirect, so they know what to do with your pages.

301 vs. 302 redirect: Why does it matter what redirect you use?

When you’re learning about a 301 vs. 302 redirect, a common narrative you’ll hear is that companies don’t use 301 redirects and typically use 302 redirects for everything. After learning the difference between a 301 and 302 redirect, you may feel confused: Does it matter which redirect you use?

Yes.

The main reason it matters what redirect you use is because of how search engines read your site.

When a search engine crawls your page with a redirect, it needs to determine whether to keep the old page indexed or replace it with the one at the new location. If you’re using 302 redirects for everything, search engines will think that it’s just temporary and won’t transfer any of the page’s value to the new location.

But if you intend to keep this new page and never use the old one, it creates a problem.

Temporary redirects don’t transfer any value to the redirected page. The value remains on the original page because, to search engines, the redirect is only for the short-term. Therefore, unless you do a permanent redirect, your new page will never transfer the old page’s value to the new one.

Essentially, it boils down to the fact that 302 redirects don’t have any impact on your SEO (when done correctly). If you’re trying to create a brand-new page, you can’t use a 302 redirect if you want that page to gain value and search rankings.

301 vs. 302 redirect: Which one should you use?

If you’re thinking about using forward type redirects, make sure you use them in the proper context.

Use a 301 direct if you:

  • Change the URL of a webpage
  • Create a new website or page
  • Merge two websites
  • Switch from HTTP to HTTPS

 

https example from Target's website

 

Use a 302 redirect if you:

  • You want to get feedback on a new page on your site without hurting the site’s original ranking in search results
  • You want to run a promotion for a sale and temporarily direct visitors to your sales page
  • You want to conduct A/B testing on your site’s functionality or design
  • You want to redirect people to the right page based on their language or location

Need more help with permanent and temporary redirects?

Now that we’ve looked at the 301 vs. 302 redirect debate, you may be feeling overwhelmed and unsure of what you need for your site. Instead of risking using the wrong redirect, you can get help from the marketing experts at WebFX.

At WebFX, we know the ins and outs of creating temporary and permanent redirects. We can also help you with other aspects of your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy, from keyword integration to page speed optimization. With over 25 years of experience, you can feel confident we know how to help your SEO drive the best results.

Contact us online or call us today at 888-601-5359 to speak with a strategist about our SEO services!