It’s easy to get confused when considering which redirect you should use, whether you’ve removed or moved content on your website. Let’s take a look at what is best practice and also how the search engines view 301 and 302 redirects.
There are plenty of articles available in the SEO industry that discuss 301 and 302 redirects, particularly focusing on the fact that 302 redirects don’t pass any PageRank and that 301 redirects are far better for SEO.
But does this theory still apply in 2018?
To get straight to the point, first let’s answer the question “Should I use a 301 redirect when I want to permanently move content from one webpage to another?” In short, the answer is “Yes, absolutely”.
To ensure the search engines understand that your URL has been moved to a new location (permanently) with equivalent content, and should therefore pass any link equity, then a 301 redirect is the best.
But do 301, or any other 30x redirect for that matter, pass PageRank? Yes! They do!
Back in 2016, Google spokesperson Gary Illyes stated that all 300 level server-side redirects pass PageRank. This means that whether it’s a 301, 302 or even a 307, PageRank will still be passed.
According to Gary Illyes, in terms of redirects, 301s and 302s both pass the same PageRank to identical content. So really, if you’re only focusing on Google, using a 301 should be your first port of call, but using any 30x redirect you think is appropriate isn’t a bad move either.
However, in the US in particular, Bing claimed to have 33% of the market share, with a respectable 23% in the UK. So disregarding the alternate search engine entirely is inadvisable.
According to Bing’s webmaster guidelines it “prefers you use a 301 permanent redirect when moving content, should the move be permanent. If the move is temporary, then a 302 temporary redirect will work fine.”
Bing also stated that 302s which look permanent are eventually treated as 301s and pass link equity, but if you want to ensure the link equity is passed sooner, you should use a 301 before a 302 if you know the redirect is not temporary.
So what’s best practice?
To put it simply. If you’re redirecting a URL to equivalent content, and you aren’t planning on putting that content back on the original URL at any point, then use a 301 redirect to pass on link equity. As a rule of thumb, you can’t really go wrong by using a 301 for permanently redirecting content for SEO purposes.