Permanent 301 Vs. Temporary 302 Redirects

Tuesday, February 5, 2008 by Mistlee

Permanent 301 Vs. Temporary 302 Redirects

By Scott Van Achte

These days, as more and more companies come to the conclusion that their 1990's built websites with the animated gifs, static backgrounds, and auto-playing midi files have seen their prime, they begin to enter into a world of redesign.

While creating these new websites with the sleeker look, and cleaner file structure is a smart move for the future, the risk and complications caused by changing URL's and the impact this has on search engine rankings is very real.

This is where redirects come in. Using the correct redirect, in most cases a permanent 301, is key to helping maintain your existing rankings, whether your site is undergoing a complete face lift, or if you simply want to move a few pages around.

While Permanent 301 Redirects are the most common there are valid situations where either 301's or 302's may be the most appropriate. This article will discuss what these redirects do, common and less common uses, implementation, and how to check that you have set them up correctly

1.) What are these redirects, what do they do?

Permanent 301
To summarize in a few lines, permanent 301 redirects are just as they sound. They are permanent redirects from an old URL to a new one. These redirects tell the search engines that the old location is to be removed from their index and replaced with the new location. Using 301 redirects is the most search engine friendly way to redirect traffic and engines, and far out weighs that of various JavaScript and Meta refresh redirects.

Temporary 302
Temporary 302 redirects are also as they sound; temporary. Here you are telling the search engines to read and use the content on the new page, but to keep checking the original URL first as it will ultimately be reestablished.

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2.) Common and Less Common Uses
There are many special cases where you should stand back and consider which redirect to use. In nearly all situations a permanent 301 will be the answer, but sometimes a 302 just may fit the bill. Here are some examples of when to use each redirect.

A.) Permanent 301 Redirects
As noted earlier, 301 redirects are by far the most common. When using them you are telling the search engines "do not come back to this location, the page has permanently moved."

All three search engines handle 301 redirects the same. If Site A is 301'd to Site B, then Site B will show up in the search results and Site A will ultimately be completely removed.

Page Deleted or Moved
Probably the most common use is the moving or deletion of a single page. Let's say that you are no longer selling a specific product and therefore have no need for its page. Using a 301 redirect to send the spiders to either the next closest product, or to a relevant product list would be of far more value then having your site return a 404 error and sending users to an error page.

The same goes with pages that are simply moved. While you are probably better off keeping the page where it is, there are many valid reasons why you may need it moved, and in this case a 301 redirect is essential to keep both the search engines, and your site users (who may have bookmarked this old page) happy.

Continue reading this article.

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