What’s the Difference Between a 301 and a 302 Redirect?
What’s going on, guys! Happy Wednesday.
Today we’re going to talk about redirects, more specifically 301 redirects versus 302 redirects. The 301 redirect is what’s known as a permanent redirect. The 302 is what’s known as a temporary redirect. There are situations where you can use both, but most of the time, there’s a pretty clear choice as far as which one you should choose.
Before we get into redirects fully, I want to say that it’s best to not use redirects whenever possible.
Avoid Using Redirects Whenever Possible
In an ideal world, you create your website and have these beautiful, magnificent, and readable URLs that have the keywords you’re trying to rank for SEO purposes. But you don’t want your URL stuffed with keywords. You don’t want them to be substantially long. URLs should be quick, easy, to the point, and organized. If you’ve got a specific category before you have the page name — that’s great too. It helps people sort, but avoid redirects if you can.
Some Situations Might Cause You to Use Redirects
Maybe you’re migrating your Magento site to Shopify or are coming from a really old CMS to WordPress. Maybe all your URLs had .HTML or .aspx at the end. With the new site, redirects by fault might change all those URLs and those changes are usually for the better. They’re more readable. But if they’re different and you migrate your entire site over without putting redirects in, you’re going to see a big drop in rankings.
So, you want to avoid that.
301 For The Win
When you migrate a website over, you should always use 301 redirects, which is the permanent redirect. 301s essentially tell search engines (like Google) that the page has permanently moved locations and any ranking factor that you had for your particular page should just go to the new page.
That’s what 301 is saying.
The Problem With 302
302, on the other hand, are saying “hey, we’ll be back later.” A 302 tells search engines that right now, this page is actually at a different location, but is coming back, so don’t shoot any ranking juice over to that new page. It should all stay right here. I don’t know many situations in which 302 is a good idea.
I can’t think of many reasons in which you’ve got a page on your site and want to redirect people to a different page temporarily, then bring them back to that page later. Maybe if you’re having a sale or promotion that happens for part of the year on a particular page. People come to it and when that sales not going on, you shoot them to a different page temporarily — you could do something like that.
But, generally speaking, 301 is what you want to do.
The Redirect Chain
Going forward, as you continue to add redirects, you get what’s known as a redirect chain. So you have site number one redirecting to site number two. Then you have a site number two migrating again, and those are all redirecting to site number three. For that redirect chain, Google can only read three redirects into it. After three, they stop. They only crawl three deep.
What you should do is take all those 301 redirects from site number one and redirect those directly to the third site in this instance, rather than going to two and then to three.
Let’s say you have six different times that you’ve done this. Take all number one, two, three, four, and five and push all those straight to number six — that’s how you want to do that.
Popular Redirect Plugins
Redirects are easy to set up, especially in CMS like WordPress. There are different plugins that do it for you. If you search for redirect plugins, you’ll find a bunch of them. One common one is Redirection. That one’s pretty good. Yoast SEO also does it in the premium version, so you would have to upgrade and pay for. It’s not really that expensive though, so it might be worth it. I recommend Yoast even if you’re not doing redirects.
There you have it. Those are 301 and 302 redirects.
Don’t use a 302 if you’re concerned about SEO. Really stick to those 301s and you’ll be alright. Don’t have redirect chains either!