All sites experience changes over time. Some pages disappear, others get united in one. There are products or services that, over time, became outdated or absolute. There will be a lot of new things and different movements. In all of those actions, you need to guide the searching engines to understand the changes correctly and adequately index them.
The visitors also need guidance. Here comes the 301 and 302 redirects. But when to use which?
What is 301 redirect? Permanent redirect.
The 301 redirect is a permanent URL redirect that points the traffic going to one URL (website’s page) to a new URL (the place where you want the traffic to go) for the future. The visitors to the original URL will get automatically redirected to the new page, and the URL in their browser will change.
The search engines like Google, Bing, Yandex, and more will see the 301 redirect too. They will take a note and start indexing the new URL. Eventually, they will forget the previous URL.
When to use it?
- Point the old URL to its new place. Imagine you had a blog that didn’t have categories. With time it grew, now it has, and you moved the articles to their categories. You need to redirect with 301 your previous URLs, so the search engines find them easily.
- Different URLs leading to one spot. For some reason, you might want different URLs from the same site or even from other domain names that you own, to lead to one particular URL, you can use the 301 redirect.
- You changed the domain name. You will need to redirect the traffic, and the right way to redirect is with this URL redirect.
Don’t use this redirect if you need to do it for a shorter amount of time. If later those URLs will be used, it is a lot better for the SEO to use the 302 redirect.
What is 302 redirect? Temporary redirect.
The 302 redirect is a temporary URL redirect that points the traffic going to one URL (website’s page) to a new URL (the place where you want the traffic to go) for a limited amount of time.
The visitors will be redirected to the new page, but they could open the original URL again if they come back in some time (when you remove the redirect).
The search engines will also see it as a temporary change, so they won’t delete the previous URL and won’t index the new one.
When to use it?
- Use it for short URLs. You can use it to create short links that are very easy to use for your clients, and you can use them with different marketing tools for your campaigns. You can measure the clicks and use the data.
- A/B testing. You can create two pages and see how your visitors react. Again a very useful marketing tool.
- Preserve the traffic. Imagine a client has bookmarked a page (URL), and now it is trying to visit it to buy. But there is no more left from the product now. You can redirect this product’s URL to another similar product and still retain some of the sales.
Now you know what is 301 redirect and 302 redirect. You can see the differences between them and understand how to use them for your needs. Remember that it is important to know which redirect is best to use in the particular situation.