301 vs 302: The importance of redirect codes in SEO

HTTP status codes 301 and 302 are both redirection codes used on the Web, but they have different meanings and implications for search engine optimization (SEO). Using these codes correctly is crucial to maintaining search engine rankings and providing a seamless user experience.

What is a 301 redirect?

A 301 status code stands for “Permanently Moved.” This redirection tells browsers and search engines that a page has been permanently moved to a new location. All link authority and ranking power of the old URL are transferred to the new URL.

Implications of 301 for SEO

  • Permanent change: Use 301 for permanent URL changes, such as site migrations or merging pages.
  • Link authority: A 301 redirect retains up to 90-99% link authority, which is crucial for SEO.
  • User Experience: Provides a smooth transition for users following old bookmarks or links.

What is a 302 redirect?

A 302 status code means “Temporarily Moved.” This code is used when a page is temporarily moved to another location, with the intention of eventually returning to the original URL.

Implications of 302 for SEO

  • Temporary change: Ideal for short-term content changes, such as A/B testing or maintenance work.
  • Retain ranking: Unlike a 301, a 302 retains the ranking and link authority of the original page.
  • Risk of confusion: Long-term use of 302 can cause confusion for search engines as to which page should be indexed.

When do you use 301 vs. 302?

The choice between a 301 and 302 redirect depends on the intent behind the URL change. Use a 301 for permanent changes and a 302 for temporary changes. Improper use of these redirects can lead to SEO problems, such as loss of ranking or splitting link authority.

Conclusion

Using 301 and 302 redirects correctly is essential for managing search engine rankings and providing an optimal user experience. While a 301 redirect provides a permanent solution and maintains link authority, a 302 redirect should only be used for temporary changes. An understanding of these redirects and their application can have a significant impact on a website’s SEO performance and overall effectiveness.

Senior SEO-specialist

Ralf van Veen

Senior SEO-specialist
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With this broad experience within SEO, I have developed the SEO course and helped hundreds of companies with improved findability in Google in a sustainable and transparent way. For this you can consult my portfolio, references and collaborations.

This article was originally published on 20 December 2023. The last update of this article was on 28 December 2023. The content of this page was written and approved by Ralf van Veen. Learn more about the creation of my articles in my editorial guidelines.