Codes 301 and 302 are part of a collection of five groups of website status codes. Also called HTTP status codes (which you are sure to recognize because they appear at the start of every URL), they are important because they tell web servers and your search engine what is going to happen with a particular web page. If you know this information and just want to skip to the difference between 301 and 302 redirects, click here.
HTTP status codes and billions of search requests
Take a moment to think about the number of queries sent each day by search engines like Google or Bing. We guarantee you have underestimated because we are talking about almost 6 billion searches per day on Google alone. So if it’s your job to organize these requests, you’ll want to categorize the pages to make them easier to find, right? This is precisely where HTTP status codes appear. When a query (or search term) is entered into Google, Google bots scramble to find the most relevant web pages on which that information can be found. In order to make it faster and easier for these bots to report to the end user, there are a number of different status codes in place that are used to indicate what type of page you are looking for. The different categories are:
100 s: 100 status codes mean that a request is being processed and you are just waiting for the server to respond.
200s: 200 status codes represent success, and most pages you search online will come back with this code. You search for a term, click on a page and you’re done! A relevant and operational web page is presented.
300s: 300 status codes correspond to a page that has been redirected, temporarily or permanently, to another page. From the user’s point of view, you won’t notice any change in location, it happens automatically and quickly via the URL.
400s: The 400 status codes are the ones that you ideally want to avoid if you are running a website, as you will likely lose users’ interest if they reach a page of 400. These are client errors and indicate pages not found ( 404), banned pages (403), unauthorized pages (401), and pages that have been completely deleted (410). Of course, there may be situations where you need to use one of these status codes, but in an ideal world …
500s: 500 status codes basically mean that something is wrong on the server side. Maybe the website is under maintenance or there is an internal server error.
Focus on the 301 and 302 redirects …
Why would you want to redirect a web page in the first place?
Some of the reasons you might want to set up a redirect are:
- The web page is no longer relevant or you have a newer replacement page
- The web page is broken
- You want people to go to another page for a short time, such as when a page is being updated.
You need to make sure you choose the right type of redirect, so that you don’t impact rankings over time. For example, you only want to use a 302 redirect when you plan to bring the original page back into service. If you know you no longer need the old page, a permanent 301 redirect is the best choice.
Do redirects impact SEO efforts?
When you use the right redirect, you can rest assured that your SEO efforts won’t really suffer. When you temporarily redirect a page, your main page retains all of its traffic value and rank. This is because a 302 is designed to be just a temporary feature and Google knows that, so the new page you direct users to essentially starts over again from a ranking standpoint. This means that it will receive less traffic and have no authority, so it is important that you remove the redirect when the original page is up and running again (especially if this is your home page) . When you do a 301 redirect, Google transfers the equity, or “link juice” from the old page to the new page, also removing the original page from its index. If you recently set up a 301, you should give Google time to take the change into account, as it will not be analyzed immediately.
Roundup: What is the difference between 301 and 302 redirects?
The main thing to remember is that a 301 redirect is a permanent change in traffic flow, while a 302 allows you to temporarily divert traffic.
When choosing the right redirect for your page or even for your site, remember that a 301 will pass equity to the new page, unlike a 302. The last thing to do is set up a 302 and don’t never put back the original page!
Our starting tip is to make sure you check all permanent redirects after about a year to make sure they’re still set up correctly and working as they should.
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