A website redirect will take one website URL and point it to another. 301 and 302 redirects are common types of website redirects that can benefit SEO. When you need to change your website URL, or even make significant adjustments to the content on your domain, redirects can help you maintain your PageRank and the reputation you have earned through backlinks and traffic. They also help direct your customers to the correct content on your site, instead of going to 404 error page. If you fail to use a proper redirect, your PageRank will be lost and result in drops in traffic and revenue eventually.
A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect. It is the most common and useful redirect that can pass on nearly all of the link juice of the existing domain. It should be used if your website URL was permanently changed and you want it to be indexed by search engines. By using 301 redirects, all traffic and existing SEO value of the original webpage will be routed to the new URL. Search engines will also index the new webpage. This process will take longer time if search engine spiders rarely visit the given webpage, or if the new URL doesn’t properly resolve.
301 redirects are particularly useful under the following circumstances:
- Redirect your old domain to your new one
- Redirect a subdirectory to a page on your website. For example, if your visitors can access your website by both http://blog.yourdomain.com and http://www.yourdomain.com/blog. It is a good idea to pick one of the URL as your preferred URL and use 301 redirects to send traffic from another URL to your preferred URL.
- Redirect duplicate content to the original page, as having duplicate content across your website will confuse the search engines and harm your SEO rankings.
A 302 redirect is a temporary type of redirect. It does not either pass link authority or prompt deindexation. It should be used if a certain URL has been changed to a different address temporarily, but you have the intention of moving back to the old URL. 302 redirects are not used very often. You may find 302 redirects useful under the following circumstances:
- Redirect a page that is under maintenance to another temporary page.
- Need to keep the original page indexed but redirect visitors to another page for A/B test during the experiment period.
|Redirecting domain.com to newdomain.com|
|Redirect Type||Visitors Go To||Website Shown||SEO Rating|
|301 Redirect||domain.com||newdomain.com||newdomain.com indexed|
|302 Redirect||domain.com||newdomain.com||domain.com indexed|
SEO Best Practice
In general, the 301 redirect is preferable for both users and search engines if you are redirecting one URL to equivalent content, and you do not expect that content to come back to the original URL. It will pass your link equity from the original page to the new URL. 302 redirects generally do not pass the PageRank and SEO value like 301 redirects do. If you fail to adjust your 302 redirects to 301 redirects when the URL change is permanent, you run the risk of the search engines not paying enough attention to your targeted page or continuing to index the old page. 302 redirects are good options only if you purposely do not want to pass link equity from the old page to the new one.
When to Remove 301 Redirects
301 redirects use extra server resources as the server has to respond twice for each page that is redirected. It can slow down response times and burden your resources if there are lots of redirects in place. It is time to remove 301 redirects when the old page has been deindexed. To check whether your old page has been deindexed, you can simply do a site query in search engines like Google and Bing. However, if you are dealing with hundreds of pages, it is not feasible to check indexation one by one. To be on the safe side, you can keep the redirects for six months to allow search engines to crawl and index the new URL. You can also create an XML sitemap of the URLs that will be redirected, and upload it to Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools. That will prompt the search engine bots to crawl your old URLs, where they will find the 301 redirects, and start the process of transferring link authority and deindexing the old URL.