301 vs 302 Redirects – What’s Best For SEO?

  • What’s the difference between a 301 and 302 redirect?
  • How do 301 redirects affect SEO?
  • How do 302 redirects affect SEO?
  • The impact of redirects on Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ads

 

It’s easy to get confused when considering which redirect you should use, whether you’ve removed or moved content on your website. So, let’s look at redirection best practices and 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 as we head into 2022?

To get straight to the point, first, let’s answer the question, “Should I use a 301 redirect when I want to move content from one webpage to another permanently?” In short, the answer is “Yes, absolutely”.

If you want to ensure the search engines understand that your URL has been moved to a new location (permanently) with equivalent content and, therefore, pass any link equity, a 301 redirect is the best.

But does 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. So essentially, this means that Google will pass PageRank irrespective of whether it’s a 301, 302 or even a 307.

pagerank

Although other search engines such as Bing live in Google’s shadow, disregarding the web search engine is inadvisable. Bing represents an opportunity for marketers to increase search visibility, having seen an uplift in market share over the past few years.

According to Bing’s webmaster guidelines, it “prefers you use a 301 permanent redirect when moving content, should the move be permanent. However, 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. Still, 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.

What is a redirect?

Every page has a web address, also known as a URL, which stands for Uniform Resource Locator.

A redirect is a status code response that sends both users and crawlers from one URL to another in instances when the content linked to the original URL may be outdated or the page is no longer needed.

There are several types of redirects: 301, 302, 303, 307, and 308—the most commonly used being the 301 and 302 redirects. The 301 and 302 redirects are relatively similar, with the main difference being that one is permanent and the other is temporary.

What Is a 301 Redirect?

A 301 redirect sends traffic from one URL to another and is used when a website or web page has been permanently removed.

After a year, you should check to see whether there have been any hits to the original URL; if not, consider removing it to free up crawl budget. If users or crawlers are still finding the original link, you should take some time to research the issue and fix the source before cancelling the redirect.

When Should You Use 301 Redirects?

301 redirects tend to be used when you permanently reconfigure your site, remove a web page or purchase a new domain and want to transfer domain authority from the original website.

Web owners may also action 301 redirects when they want to establish the domain of their default site. For example, do you want to include the “www.” or just your website name followed by the domain extension.

It’s not uncommon for people to exclude the “www.” when typing out website names, a permanent redirect will ensure they land on your site irrespective of whether they include the subdomain.

Technology advancements, algorithm updates and evolving trends mean websites are constantly changing, whether that be restructuring sitemaps, changing your SSL certificate or SEO; any mistakes could have a dramatic impact on your organic and paid search efforts.

Bankend marketing work can be pretty intimidating; however, redirects can help facilitate the process and reduce any potential volatility when restructuring your site.

Impact of 301 Redirects On Search Engine Optimisation

When done correctly, 301 redirects do not affect SEO. In fact, they are the preferred redirect when it comes to SEO.

Most SEO professionals have a deep understanding of the relationship between 301 redirects and PageRank. 

What is PageRank? It is the formula that Google uses to determine the value of a page based on the quality and quantity of links present. Before 2017, 301 redirects would have affected link equity, and there would have been a loss of PageRank for the redirected page.

In 2021, that is not the case.

According to Google software engineers, 301 redirects will pass 100% of a page’s link equity to another, meaning that the redirected page will have just as much power as the original. The reason is due to the permanence of the redirect, which informs search engines that the page has been permanently moved and equivalent content relocated to the redirected page.

Given that link equity is a search engine ranking factor, it’s essential to preserve page authority whenever possible, which is part of the reason why 301 redirects help boost search traffic.

However, be aware that it could take some time for search engines to discover and credit the redirected page with the authority of the original. You could speed up the process by using Google Search Console (GSC) and request for reindexing of the new page.

What Is a 302 Redirect?

A 302 redirect informs search engines that a website or page has been moved for a limited time and is expected to be live again.

When Should You Use 302 Redirects?

You should only use 302 redirects if you want to temporarily send users to another site or web page, such as when your site is under development or the current content on the page is being revamped.

The best practice is to use a 302 if you plan to restore the original page or you want to test a new page and gain some data without impacting your rankings.

 

Impact of 302 Redirects On Search Engine Optimisation

If you use 302 redirects correctly, they shouldn’t affect your site’s SEO.

All the 302 redirect does is inform search engines that the move is temporary to preserve the original page’s ranking value. As no link equity is transferred to the redirected page, the original page’s ranking, traffic value, and authority are maintained.

Seo Testing Tools

 

The only instance where 302 redirects pose a problem to SEO is when people don’t know the difference between a 301 and a 302 redirect and use the latter as a permanent option. Assigning a 302 redirect to a page that no longer has any value will not transfer link equity to the desirable URL.

Knowing the difference between a 301 and 302 redirect and following best practices will help optimise the website SEO performance.

So what’s the best practice?

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.

How do redirects affect pay-per-click (PPC)?

Although redirects can mitigate the impact of back-end website mistakes, they are less helpful when it comes to PPC.

When a redirect is put in place, it strips a tracking parameter called Google Click ID or GCLID, for short, which transfers information about your PPC ads to your Google Analytics accounts.

GCLID allows PPC professionals to discern traffic and clickthrough data for a specific ad, campaign or keyword and use the data to scale and optimise their marketing campaigns. However, as redirects cause the GCLID to get lost, this leads to reporting discrepancies in Google Analytics and a loss of valuable information.

The easiest way to get around this is to update the URL of your ads, replacing the original with the new redirected page. However, this also poses issues as when a new URL is assigned to a PPC ad, Google interprets the entire ad to be fresh and disregards the performance history of the original ad.

You might think this isn’t a significant problem, but Google has a better sense of where to place your ads in SERPs based on how they have historically performed. So in that sense, assigning a new URL to your ad could have a damaging impact on its performance.

Still, it’s the lesser of two evils considering this practice keeps the GLCID in place, meaning that you’ll be able to generate real-time, accurate data in Google Analytics and attribute traffic to the correct channels.

Essentially, you have two options:

  1. Assign the new URL to your old ad
  2. Duplicate your ad and use the new URL in the latest version. Let the ads run alongside each other and as the new one gains traction, turn off the older ad.

Option two is the wiser choice – it’s better to have clicks misattributed for a limited time than bring all your ad traffic to a standstill.

Although changing all the URLs for your ads might seem unsettling, Google Ads editor allows you to bulk edit, streamlining the process!

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