Website owners and webmasters often use a 301 redirect to permanently send website viewers to a new URL. A 301 redirect refers to pointing the visitor’s browser to a new, permanent location for a URL. For instance, let’s say your company name has changed from ABCShoes to XYZShoes. You want your company URL to reflect your new name, but you don’t want to lose previous customers who might not know about the new name.
When you redirect your site using a 301 redirect, users who type in ABCShoes.com will now see XYZShoes.com in their browser’s address bar. When your website’s location has changed and you’re forwarding a domain permanently, perhaps to use a vanity URL for marketing purposes or because your company name has changed, a 301 redirect may be the appropriate choice.
But a permanent redirect may not be the best solution for every situation. Here are five reasons you may opt for a temporary redirect instead.
1. You Want Google to Continue to Index the Original URL
When you opt for a 301 redirect, you’re alerting search engines that the content on the old URL is no longer available at the current location and that it should no longer be indexed. Let’s pretend you use the 301 redirect for a seasonal sales campaign, and you plan to remove the redirect once the campaign ends. It could take weeks or months for the old URL to be indexed by search engines again. So, a 301 could be harmful in this case.
A temporary redirect such as a 302 makes more sense. It tells the search engines the requested content still exists, but in a different location, and that it will make a comeback. The SEO for the old URL remains the same. No link equity or page authority gets passed on to the new URL. It remains with the old URL. If you plan to reuse the old URL in the future and want to retain its SEO, a 302 is always ideal.
Keep in mind, a 302 is a temporary redirect and Google treats it as such, keeping the SEO benefits with the old URL. However, if you leave the 302 in place too long — anywhere from six months to a year or more — Google may start treating it as a permanent redirect. At that point, the old URL would lose its SEO benefits and the SEO and link equity would apply to the new page instead.
2. You Don’t Want Clients to Cache the Target Value
When a browser caches a website, it stores a subset of data from that page in a high-speed cache or location where it is easily and quickly accessible in the future. However, keep in mind the temporary nature of some URL changes. You may not want the browser to cache the target value because that value is likely to change soon. A 301 redirect caches the data for faster access, while a 302 redirect does not.
3. You Want to Repurpose the URL for Future Campaigns
Let’s say you’re running multiple campaigns based on the time of year or new product launches, or running an annual holiday campaign that changes from year to year. You want to create a new page while maintaining the domain authority of the existing URL, and you also know you may want to use the URL for another future campaign. You can temporarily redirect the same URL to a new page using a 302 redirect instead. A 301 redirect, on the other hand, will tell Google this is a permanent change which can confuse search engines and lead to lost traffic.
4. You Want to Run an A/B Test with the URL
Similarly, you might be running a campaign and want to test different calls to action, images or other landing page content. Maybe you want to see if a page with a video does better than a page with an infographic.
Using 302 redirects make sense for A/B testing, since they let you test for factors independent of the page’s SEO. They will let 50% of the page’s traffic go to one URL, while the other 50% goes to the second URL. You can track conversion rates based on whichever factor you changed.
5. You Are Redirecting Due to Site Maintenance or Updates
Finally, one of the most-common reasons webmasters and site owners use 302 redirects is to update the content at the original URL. Maybe you’re planning a whole website redesign. It would be unacceptable for most business owners to have their websites down for maintenance while the new site gets uploaded, tested, debugged and modified.
Instead, you can use a temporary redirect so visitors can still access your existing site. Google won’t crawl the new site until the updates are complete, your site’s security remains intact and users probably won’t notice any difference in the site’s functionality.
Bottom line: Understanding whether to use a 301 or 302 redirect can affect your website’s SEO and success in the long term. EasyRedir can help ensure any URL redirection goes smoothly. Want to learn more about how our dashboard works? Here’s a quick breakdown.