Redirection is the process of forwarding one URL to a different URL. There are three main kinds of redirects: 301, 302, and meta refresh.
Types of Redirects
- 301, “Moved Permanently”: recommended for SEO
- 302, “Found” or “Moved Temporarily”
- Meta Refresh
What is a Redirect?
A redirect is a way to send both users and search engines to a different URL from the one they originally requested. Below are descriptions of some of the commonly used types of redirects.
301 Moved Permanently
A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect which passes between 90-99% of link juice (ranking power) to the redirected page. 301 refers to the HTTP status code for this type of redirect. In most instances, the 301 redirect is the best method for implementing redirects on a website.
302 Found (HTTP 1.1) / Moved Temporarily (HTTP 1.0)
A 302 redirect is a temporary redirect. It passes 0% of link juice (ranking power) and, in most cases, should not be used. The Internet runs on a protocol called HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) which dictates how URLs work. It has two major versions, 1.0 and 1.1. In the first version, 302 referred to the status code “Moved Temporarily.” This was changed in version 1.1 to mean “Found.”
307 Moved Temporarily (HTTP 1.1 Only)
A 307 redirect is the HTTP 1.1 successor of the 302 redirect. While the major crawlers will treat it like a 302 in some cases, it is best to use a 301 for almost all cases. The exception to this is when content is really moved only temporarily (such as during maintenance) AND the server has already been identified by the search engines as 1.1 compatible. Since it’s essentially impossible to determine whether or not the search engines have identified a page as compatible, it is generally best to use a 302 redirect for content that has been temporarily moved.
Meta refreshes are a type of redirect executed on the page level rather than the server level. They are usually slower, and not a recommended SEO technique. They are most commonly associated with a five-second countdown with the text “If you are not redirected in five seconds, click here.” Meta refreshes do pass some link juice, but are not recommended as an SEO tactic due to poor usability and the loss of link juice passed.
SEO Best Practice
It is common practice to redirect one URL to another. When doing this, it is critical to observe best practices in order to maintain SEO value. The first common example of this takes place with a simple scenario: a URL that needs to redirect to another address permanently.
There are multiple options for doing this, but in general, the 301 redirect is preferable for both users and search engines. Serving a 301 indicates to both browsers and search engine bots that the page has moved permanently. Search engines interpret this to mean that not only has the page changed location, but that the content or an updated version of it can be found at the new URL. The engines will carry any link weighting from the original page to the new URL.
Be aware that when moving a page from one URL to another, the search engines will take some time to discover the 301, recognize it, and credit the new page with the rankings and trust of its predecessor. This process can be lengthier if search engine spiders rarely visit the given web page, or if the new URL doesn’t properly resolve.
Other options for redirection, like 302s and meta refreshes, are poor substitutes, as they generally will not pass the rankings and search engine value like a 301 redirect will. The only time these redirects are good alternatives is if a webmaster purposefully doesn’t want to pass link juice from the old page to the new.
Transferring content becomes more complex when an entire site changes its domain or when content moves from one domain to another. Due to abuse by spammers and suspicion by the search engines, 301s between domains sometimes require more time to be properly spidered and counted.