What is 302 Redirect?
A 302 redirect is an HTTP status code that is used to implement a temporary redirect from one URL to another.
Unlike a 301 redirect - which indicates a permanent move - a 302 redirect signifies that the move is temporary and that the original URL may be restored in the future.
The purpose of a 302 is to quickly and temporarily direct traffic to a different location or forwarding address.
It is particularly useful when you want to make temporary changes or experiments on a webpage or when you are unsure about the permanency of the redirection.
When should you use 302 redirects?
Here are some scenarios where it's appropriate to use it:
Site Maintenance or Redesign
If you're redesigning your website and you want to send visitors to a different page for a short time - a 302 is a good option.
This is a clear indication to search engines that this redirect is only temporary and the original page will be back soon.
If you're testing a new page with a different design or content, you can use a 302 redirect to route some of your traffic to the new page.
This way you can compare user engagement on both pages without affecting the original page's search engine rankings.
Seasonal Promotions or Events
If you're running an event and want to direct users from the main page to the promotional one - a 302 redirect is ideal.
Once the promotion or event is over, you can remove the redirect and the original page will regain its place in the search engine rankings.
Temporarily Moving Content
If you need to move content from one URL to another for a short period, a 302 redirect will ensure users and search engines find the content while signalling that the move is not permanent.
Remember, a 302 redirect does not pass along the SEO credit to the new URL like a 301 (permanent) redirect does.
This is because a 302 tells search engines that the redirection is temporary and they should keep the original URL in their index.
So, if you're planning a permanent move of content from one URL to another, a 301 redirect is the more appropriate choice.
How does a 302 redirect impact SEO?
It may affect SEO in several ways:
Because a 302 is temporary - search engines continue to index the original URL rather than the redirected one.
This means that the original URL retains its search engine ranking while the new URL does not inherit this ranking.
Unlike a 301 - which passes nearly all of the link equity from the original page to the new one - a 302 does not pass link equity to the new URL.
Confusion for Search Engines
Prolonged use of a 302 redirect when a 301 redirect should have been used can lead to unpredictable SEO results.
If a 302 remains in place for a long time, it can potentially confuse search engines. If it seems that the redirect is permanent, some search engines might treat it as a 301 redirect but this behaviour is not guaranteed.
Impact on User Experience
Although this is not a direct SEO factor, the impact on user experience can indirectly influence SEO. If users are redirected to the content they didn't expect or if the redirection causes confusion, it might lead to increased bounce rates.
User experience signals are believed to be a ranking factor so this could have an indirect impact on SEO.
301 vs 302 redirect
It is essential to use redirects correctly as improper use can lead to confusion for both users and search engines.
The choice between a 301 and a 302 largely depends on the purpose.
Use a 301 when:
You've restructured your website and some pages have been moved.
You've merged two websites or pages together.
You're switching from HTTP to HTTPS.
On the other hand, use a 302 when:
You're performing A/B testing for page redesigns.
You're running a short-term promotion and want to redirect users to the promotional page.
You're temporarily moving a page due to site maintenance.
In terms of SEO, a 301 redirect is generally better if the move is permanent because it transfers the SEO value to the new page.
A 302 doesn't pass SEO value because it's expected that the original page will be reinstated. Misuse of a 302 redirect could also result in a loss of ranking.
How Does Google treat 302 redirects?
When a 302 redirect is properly implemented, Google typically continues to index the old URL and display it in search results.
During this time, the SEO value, or "link signals" usually remain associated with the old URL and consolidate 'backwards'.
However, if a 302 is kept in place for an extended period, Google might interpret this as a mistake and assume that the redirect was meant to be permanent.
In such cases, Google would start indexing the new URL and transfer the link signals there instead.
The tricky part is that there's no definitive timeline for when Google might decide to treat a 302 redirect as a 301 redirect.
It could be a matter of days, weeks, or even months, and in some cases, Google might treat a 302 as a 301 right from the start.
To determine how Google is interpreting a particular 302 redirect, you can use Google's URL Inspection tool in the Search Console.
By inputting the redirected URL, you can check whether it's still indexed by Google. If the URL is not found on Google, it means Google is treating it as a 301. If it's still on Google, the redirect is treated as a 302.
It's important to check the date of the last crawl when using the URL Inspection tool. If the redirect was implemented after the last crawl date, you may need to request a reindexing and check back at a later time.
How to create a 302 redirect?
It can be done in several ways depending on your website's server and the platform you're using.
Using .htaccess (Apache servers)
The .htaccess file is located in your website’s root directory. If your website is hosted on an Apache server, you can create a 302 redirect by adding a line to your .htaccess file. Here is an example:
Redirect 302 /oldpage.html http://www.yoursite.com/newpage.html
If your website uses PHP, you can place this code at the top of your page:
header("Location: http://www.yoursite.com/newpage.html", true, 302);
This code uses the PHP header() function to send a raw HTTP header indicating the new location for the redirect.
window.location.href = "http://www.yoursite.com/newpage.html";
Using a CMS or Website Builder
If you're using a CMS like WordPress or a website builder like Wix or Shopify - there are usually built-in tools or plugins available to set up 302 redirects.
Always back up your website before making any changes to system files like .htaccess and only proceed if you're comfortable editing these files.
If you're unsure, consider seeking help from a web developer or your hosting provider's support service.
Note: Please replace "http://www.yoursite.com/newpage.html" with the actual URL where you want to redirect the page.
A 302 redirect is used to send website visitors and search engines to a different URL from the requested one. It's useful for temporary situations like site maintenance, A/B testing, or short-term promotions.
It does not pass SEO value as it signals that the original page is expected to be back.
Misuse of 302 redirects can potentially lead to confusion for search engines and may result in less optimal SEO outcomes.