There are almost 1 billion websites, of which only 200 million are active. The activation and subsequent deactivation of the websites can have an impact on web traffic. And that’s where the concept of a redirect comes in.
The idea of website redirect is a simple one: Whenever a user clicks on your web page, they are automatically transferred to another page.
It happens for a reason – maybe you have deleted the older web page, or have merged the web pages. It also occurs when you redesign your website.
But how are these users being sent to other pages? The web page utilizes redirects to divert traffic towards different pages. These redirects can create a direct and significant impact on the SEO ranking of a website.
There are five types of redirects, but here, we will discuss only the two major types. I’ll elaborate on the details and differences of these redirects.
1. 301 vs 302 Redirect
All SEO experts have heard of “link juice.” It is the term representing the value passed from one page to another.
This is the point at which redirects become relevant. Do you wish to conserve the traffic on your web page? If so, you have to select an appropriate redirect to do so.
The value and status of each redirect are essential in determining the website ranking or value. But which one will create an impact? And which is the most effective?
I’ll tell you the difference between two major redirects and also their uses in specific conditions.
The 301 redirects are also known as permanently moved redirects. It is a redirect that can be carried and distributed equally.
This redirect is utilized to inform users that the content is permanently moved to a newer destination. This is mainly utilized when the domain of a website is completely changed, or it can be used when the content management system (CMS) or URL structure has been changed.
For instance, you might have a website named A. Now you have moved all of your content to website B. Using 301 redirects will inform search engines that you have shifted from A to B. This will instruct them to redirect their rankings of value signals to a new destination.
The 302 redirects are known as “Found” redirects and are also commonly referred to as a temporary move.
This is because a 302 redirect does not pass or carry the link to a new location. Instead, it is used to navigate the user to another appropriate location, rather than having them find a broken link or an error page.
If it does not create an impact on SEO ranking, why should any SEO expert be interested in it? Well, it is the most effective option for eCommerce sites.
Imagine that you ran out of a product. You would then utilize a 302 redirect to navigate customers to pages with similar products or the category page. This will inform search engines that your product is temporarily unavailable, maintaining your web ranking.
You need to be cautious – an improper link or redirecting to an inappropriate website may be catastrophic for you.
2. Effects of 301 Redirects on SEO
The 301 redirect is the most effective one for your web ranking. This is because whenever a 301 redirect is utilized, it reflects the page’s permanent transfer.
This makes search engines eliminate the old page from its index, and link equity is transferred to the new web link.
This URL movement from one destination to another is something search engines can observe. That’s why 301 redirects directly affect SEO ranking.
Let’s look at this a little closer.
In terms of 301 redirects, indexation has the most significant impact on SEO ranking. When you shift your website to a new URL, Google keeps only one URL indexed, and that is generally the new one.
In other words, when you create a 301 redirect from an old page HTML to a new page, Google will index the new page and de-index the older one. However, potential confusion can occur when Google shows both of these URLs.
This can result in the old website losing all its rankings and the newer one seeing an increased bounce rate. The tug of war between the old and new potentially creates a negative impact on SEO rankings.
The 301 redirects can also increase the SEO ranking of a web page. These redirects transfer almost 90 percent of the link equity from the redirected page. Whenever a user clicks on the older link, the search engine opens the older link and then transfers it to the newer link.
Imagine you were to open a website and saw a 404 error instead – that wouldn’t provide a good user experience (UX). This is why the 301 redirects are also considered relevant in improving SEO.
3. Effects of 302 Redirects on SEO
The general consensus is that 302 redirects do not have any impact on the SEO ranking. This is true but is worth some elaboration.
Whenever a 302 redirect is selected, it indicates that the URL of the page remains the same and the changes are temporary. Therefore, Google does not consider it, and the ranking is maintained.
So, what’s the problem? The problem arises when people don’t understand the difference between these redirects, and erroneously choose 302 redirects for permanently moving the website.
Although we’ve established that 302 redirects don’t directly improve SEO, these redirects do have benefits.
302 Improves UX
The most frustrating thing for any user is when a link is unavailable. As a web owner, you need to avoid this at all costs, as it may create a negative impact on your SEO ranking.
In this instance, the 302 redirect is considered the savior: For eCommerce businesses, it directs traffic to similar products (you can even place a date when the out-of-stock product will be available). This may enhance or at least maintain web traffic. You might even consider a content marketing approach, and navigate traffic to some related, detailed content.
4. Why Do Search Engines Care?
The majority of the time, traffic patterns remain the same. The only impact these redirects have is permanent vs temporary moves. But what about search engines? Why would they be concerned?
There are millions of websites, and the ranking wars are ongoing. Search engines are most interested in providing the appropriate ranking for every website according to how well they meet users’ needs. For example, if you are running an online store, a few factors search engines will consider in order to rank your website are:
Understandably, search engines don’t want to rank websites that are no longer active. This is why they look at redirects – websites that once used 301 are considered inactive.
Wrapping It Up
The number of websites is constantly increasing, and maintaining your website’s ranking is getting more difficult. This makes the appropriate usage of redirects absolutely essential.
Inadequate or incorrect use of a redirect can be detrimental to your website, so I hope you are clear regarding 301 vs 302 redirect.
Both of these are appropriate and effective – you just need to determine what result you’re looking for from your redirect.
All of this effort is to maintain your website’s position in the digital race. If you drop in the rankings even once, it can be difficult to rebuild.