302 Redirects and SEO – What Are They and How to Use Them?

302 Redirects and SEO – What Are They and How to Use Them?

To be successful in today’s modern business world, it’s important to increase your chances of being found in online searches. Featuring more prominently in search engines is a great way to differentiate from your competition. Keep reading to find out how 302 redirects can help your search engine performance!

Latest on our blog: June 2021 Google Core Algorithm Update

Ranking online is a key to success in a fast-paced digital world, especially when an increasing volume of consumers are using the internet as a preferred route to discover products and services. Failing to keep up-to-date with the latest SEO trends can have a disastrous impact on your search ranking, which is why using redirects is so important.

But what exactly is a 302 redirect?

What Are 302 Redirects?

A 302 redirect occurs when a website has been moved temporarily. It is a method for redirecting a URL to a different location.

When this status code arises (in the event of a website temporarily changing location), the web browser will automatically redirect the user to a new URL specified in the location field. It is the responsibility of the search engine to determine whether to keep the old page in question or to replace it with a website found at the new location.

302 Redirects are significant when a web page has moved, in which case users need to be able to find the site they’re looking for. A redirect automatically forwards the user to a new website, yet when sites move they can often drop out of search rankings for months at a time.

301 vs 302 – What’s the Difference?

From a user perspective, 301 and 302 redirects seem to work in the same way. However, search engines have an alternative view, being able to sense different types of redirects and handling them accordingly.

  • A 301 redirect occurs when a page has permanently moved to a new location.
  • A 302 redirect occurs when a page has temporarily moved elsewhere.

Configuring the wrong type of redirect can confuse search engines, consequently leading to a loss of traffic.

There aren’t many situations where using a 302 is appropriate, because pages are rarely moved temporarily. However, it’s much easier to create 302 redirects, despite pages often being moved permanently.

Fortunately, Google is advanced enough to work out the true intention of the webmaster in question, which helps to provide the best possible search results for its engine. If someone has used a 302 redirect rather than a 301, Google will know. However, this isn’t true all of the time, where some people believe Google doesn’t handle 302s properly. Search engines can continue to index the old URL when a 302 is used instead of a 301, disregarding the new one.

Correct redirects help

Google will treat a 302 as a 301 when it is perceived that the webmaster has made an error. However, this isn’t 100% reliable and doesn’t count for all search engines. That’s why using a 301 is often considered best practice, since a ‘temporary move’ communicates with search engines to keep the original domain.

It’s more desirable for search engines to index the new location. 302 redirects were once used to overcome the Google Aging Delay, but as of recently, this is not considered a good practice.

Changing domain names can be viewed as untoward, logic employed in the real world and by Google’s algorithms. Changing a domain by a 301 can cause you to lose rankings, where it can appear you’re up to no good.

When is it Time to Use 302 Redirects on Your Website?

You can create a 302 redirect using Javascript or a meta tag. This is considerably less effort than creating a 301, which requires special commands. Users often mistake 302 redirects for 301 redirects, something that’s recognized by Google.

302s are used to redirect users to a new site for a short period. You would typically use a 302 redirect when you’re updating your website, or perhaps redesigning it.

You should only really use a 302 when you intend to bring back your old page, since a 302 signals a temporary move.

Another use for a 302 is when you’re testing out a new page and are seeking consumer feedback. In this instance, you can do so without hurting the rankings from your original page.

302 Redirects Impact on SEO

When you redirect a page using a 302, the qualities of the redirected page are not passed onto the new location. However, the redirected page will retain its Page Authority, PageRank, MozRank, and Traffic Value, though the detour page won’t accumulate any. Accidentally using a 302 can impact your website’s search engine visibility, which is why many SEO experts decide against using them when editing a website.

As previously mentioned, the correct usage of a 302 is for testing a new page for client feedback. In this instance, doing so won’t impact your old page’s rankings. Using 302s in this context won’t disrupt your SEO efforts. Google will appreciate the move is temporary and will thus not transfer any value to the new URL.

Problems tend to arise when users fail to realize the difference between a 301 and 302, which is why it’s important to differentiate between the two.

How to Implement 302 Redirects

There are two main methods for implementing 302 redirects, which depend on the type of server you’re using:

Websites on Unix/Apache Servers:

For the sake of this example, let’s imagine your website is hosted at www.abc.com

  1. FTP into your website
  2. In the root folder, download and then create a copy of the .htaccess file.
  3. Save it in a backup folder (in case you make a mistake)
  4. Open the .htaccess file in a program like Notepad++
  5. In a new line at the bottom of the existing code, put in the redirect using the following as a template: redirect 302 /OldPage/NewPage
  6. Save and upload the file to your server.
  7. Test the redirect by visiting abc.com/OldPage.html
  8. If you’re sent to the html, you’ve been successful

Websites on Windows Servers:

Like before, let’s imagine your website is www.abc.com

1. Place a page at the position of the old address (http://abc.com/OldPage.asp)

2. Place the following code above the tag:

<%@ Language=VBScript %>

<%

Response.Status=”302 Found”

Response.AddHeader “Location”,”http://abc.com/NewPage.asp”

%>

3. Upload the new page and test it by visiting the old URL

4. See whether you’re redirected properly, in which case you’ve been successful

Thanks for reading this article! We hope to have been brought you up-to-speed on the concept of redirects. Be sure to check out one of our other blogs for more information.

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Delante is an online marketing agency specialized in generating website traffic from search engines and paid ads (SEO / SEM). Over 80% of our clients are from rapidly growing e-commerce industry.

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