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301 & 302 Redirects

301 & 302 Redirects



301 & 302 Redirects

Redirects literally redirect users from one URL to another and depending on the reason why they are being implemented will determine what type of redirect you will need to implement. We describe the two most common redirects in this article.

301 Redirects

These are permanent redirects called ‘permanent 301 redirects’ or ‘301’s’ for short. These permanently redirect users from one URL to a new URL and in doing so pass on a significant percentage of PageRank.

Matt Cutts says in this video that equal amounts of PageRank are dissipated through a link as through a 301 redirect. This is estimated to be between 10%-15% loss, meaning that 85% to 90% of PageRank is maintained or transferred.

These should be used if you would like to redirect users permanently and helps to prevent PageRank loss during that period.

302 Redirects

302 redirects work in the same way as 301 redirects but are temporary solutions ‘temporary 302 redirect’. These should be used if y­­­­­ou would like to redirect users but only for a limited period of time and helps to prevent PageRank loss during that period. The same quantity of PageRank is passed on using a 302 as there is using a 301 redirect.

This article looks at the different methods for implementing 301 redirects across Linux and Windows IIS servers.

Common Mistakes

There are a few common mistakes we see when it comes to using redirects, which we list below:

Redirect Chains

Redirect chains are where ‘Page A’ redirects to ‘Page B’, but ‘Page B’ redirects to ‘Page C’.  With each step in the chain a portion of PageRank is lost and load times increase. This also makes it harder for Google to determine what page is the correct page to list in the SERPs.

Redirect chains should be avoided as they provide no benefit and only the potential for negative impact.

Redirect Loops

Redirect loops are where ‘Page A’ redirects to ‘Page B’ but ‘Page B’ redirects to ‘Page A’ thus causing an infinite loop which cannot be resolved. All pages in this cycle will be removed from Google’s index.

This can impact indexing in general because Google’s crawlers will only spend so much time trying to figure out what is going on before leaving.

Redirect to Missing Page

Redirecting from a URL to another URL that doesn’t exist or is inaccessible provides a bad user experience and ultimately the PageRank of the original place will be lost. This is bad practice and should be resolved if it occurs.

Wrong Type of Redirect

Using a 302 when you should use a 301 or vice versa sends the wrong message to Search Engines, they will assume that the move is temporary or permanent when it is the opposite, this can impact on rankings.

Too Many Redirects

On large sites, this can become an issue, if thousands of redirects exist, site performance can be impeded increasing page load times. Redirects can be removed after a period of time; once the new page has been indexed the redirect can be removed with little to no impact. Typically we leave a redirect in place for a couple of months.

There are exceptions to this; if the pages being redirected from have back links removing the redirects this will essentially nullify the link. There are catchall solutions for implementing redirects based on criteria such but you will lose a portion of PageRank in the process.

For smaller sites where the volumes of redirects are small, there should be no issues with leaving them in place indefinitely.

Implementing 301 Redirects

.Htaccess – 301 Redirects

There are a number of ways to perform the required redirects; the most common hosting environment is Apache on a Linux server.  In that situation you can use an htaccess file to perform the redirect.

If a .htaccess file exists already, the following code can be added to the file, if none exists then a .htaccess file must be created and uploaded to the root of the domain.

Edit the code below to contain the relevant website URL and references to the index page. Then copy the edited code the bottom of the .htaccess file, save the file and upload to the root of the domain (locations can be dependent upon CMS).

To redirect the non-www version of your site to www (or any other sub-domain):

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^ [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$$1 [L,R=301] To redirect one URL to another
               Redirect 301 {old_url} {new_url}
               Redirect 301 / /index.html

Once the initial rewrite engine code has been added you can add redirects in using the following format:

Redirect 301 /oldfile1.htm /newfile1.htm
Redirect 301 /oldfile2.htm /newfile2.htm
Redirect 301 /oldfile3.htm /newfile3.htm

*Note: Editing and creating .htaccess files can have a serious impact on a website, if unsure please consult an expert to ensure that website functionality is not negatively impacted. Always test your site and desired outcomes immediately after making edits.

Windows IIS – 301 Redirects

Implementing 302 Redirects

.Htaccess – 302 Redirects

The code below details how to implement a 302 redirect:

 RewriteEngine On
 Options +FollowSymLinks

               Redirect 302 /oldfile1.htm /newfile1.htm

Once the initial rewrite engine code has been added you can add redirects in using the following format:

Redirect 302 /oldfile1.htm /newfile1.htm
Redirect 302 /oldfile2.htm /newfile2.htm
Redirect 302 /oldfile3.htm /newfile3.htm

Windows IIS – 302 Redirects

Bear in mind that Windows Servers are updated to new versions each year and often this can result in having to learn a new way of implementing redirects.


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