What Is the Difference Between 301 and 302 Redirects?

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In our last article, we discussed 301 redirects and how they play a role in website design and SEO. After reading that article, you may have been compelled to do some research on your own into why 301 redirects are important for your website. While conducting this research, you may have come across the term 302 redirects.

That discovery should not be surprising as they can often be confused with one another and when one should be used over the other is not always straightforward (like many things in SEO).

Therefore, we are going to outline the differences between these two terms as well as describe the circumstances in which you would choose one type of redirect over the other.

Defining The Terms And Why They Are Important

Before we analyze the ways in which these two concepts differ from one another, let’s review what these terms are in the first place.

We defined 301 redirects in our last blog post, but for a quick recap: a 301 redirect indicates that a website has permanently moved from one location to another. It tells the website browser that the content of a website has permanently moved and will not move back.

302 redirects are essentially the same idea but with one important difference: a 302 redirect tells a browser that a website has moved temporarily.

Keeping these two concepts straight in your mind can be tough since they are nearly identical but knowing the difference is vital as you design your website.

The Important Difference Between 301 and 302 Redirects  

The reason why these concepts are so vital is that search engines sometimes cannot recognize the difference between 301 and 302 redirects.

If you set up a 301 redirect versus a 302 redirect or vice versa, they can become confused leading to a loss of traffic. As a result, your website will not rank as highly in search engines which can take a long time to recover. If you choose to use a 302 redirect (indicating a temporary move), Google will keep the old domain indexed in their results while trying to lead visitors to the new page. This phenomenon can be detrimental to your long-term goals because Google will start indexing duplicate content which could negatively impact your SEO rank.

As you can see, knowing the differences between these two types of redirects is vital to your content marketing strategy.

When To Use a 301 Redirect

We touched on when to use a 301 redirect in our last post but to outline when you would use a 301 redirect as opposed to a 302 redirect, we will outline the situations in which you would use a 301 redirect.

If you remember the distinction of temporary vs. permanent migration, you will know that a 301 redirect is used for a permanent change on your website.

More specifically, a 301 redirect would be used in situations where you would like to merge two websites together or websites that are migrating permanently.

In addition, a 301 redirect would be most useful if you are using several URLs to access your site. Choosing one and setting up a 301 redirect for the other URLs will be the most effective in ranking highly in search engines.

Finally, a 301 redirect would also be useful if you are moving your website to a new domain name.

Overall, you can see how 301 redirects are the type of redirect you would most often employ as a content marketer.

When To Use a 302 Redirect

Truth be told, there are not too many scenarios in which you would set up a 302 redirect. However, these situations still exist and it will be important to outline a few here.

302 redirects are best used when you are redesigning a website, temporarily shutting the website down or needing to test a page without affecting your rankings.

Remember you should only set up a 302 redirect when you intend on bringing users back to your original page. That is what makes a 302 redirect a temporary move.

How to Set up a 302 Redirect

Setting up a 302 redirect follows a similar process as setting up a 301 redirect in most website content management systems.

The process for setting up these redirects is best shown by following links to set up the different redirects.

Starting with WordPress, you would set up a 302 redirect by following the same steps outlined in the previous article at Centori. However, following this link provides a helpful guide for setting up a 302 redirect along with a helpful YouTube video.  

In Squarespace, if you follow this link to their help page, you will be able to find out how to set up both types of redirects.

Finally, Wix is a little different than WordPress or Squarespace as they are currently adjusting their 301 redirects tools. They do not provide information on their website yet about 302 redirects but this link provides helpful information on setting up 301 redirects which, as we said, is used far more frequently.

Going Forward

As you can see remembering the difference between 301 and 302 redirect can make a huge impact in your SEO and content marketing strategy.

These concepts are not a daily assignment for content marketers; nevertheless, they cannot be overlooked.

Now that you are equipped with the differences between these terms, you can venture confidently into making big changes to your website this year!

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