Imagine you have an e-commerce site about shoes. One of your models has run out of its black-colored variant, but you still have gray. Your clients could be interested in the other color, but what can you do to direct them to it instead of showing a “temporary out of stock” message? Or what happens if you completely stopped selling this model? Wouldn’t it be nice if you can redirect the traffic to another page and not lose clients? Let’s see the 301 redirect vs 302 redirect comparison now!
HTTP status codes
There are different HTTP status codes that will indicate a problem or show you an important message. In our case, we will see two examples of 3XX status codes that are responsible for redirecting. They will show what the client should do to finish the request.
The 301 Redirect is the permanent redirect, and it is used when you want to redirect the traffic going from one URL to another URL permanently.
You have website.com/page1, and you set 301 redirect to website.com/page2. Now all the visitors to
website.com/page1 will be automatically redirected to website.com/page2.
If we use the case from the beginning, you can redirect the traffic from an item on your online shop to another category or the home page if you won’t sell it anymore. That way, the visitors won’t see an error 404 page not found, and there is a good chance they will still browse your site.
301 Redirect is also very useful when you have permanently changed the location of an URL. Imagine if you had your blog in a subdomain (blog.yoursite.com), but after a change on your site, now you have it as a category (yoursite.com/blog). Now you can redirect the articles that you already have from blog.yoursite.com to yoursite.com/blog.
The same 301 redirect can be used when you move to a new domain. You can redirect everything from the previous one to the new one.
Google, as well as most other search engines, understand 301 redirect and start indexing the new page, so it has SEO significance.
The 302 redirect is a temporary redirect, and it is used when you want to redirect the traffic going from one URL to another URL temporarily.
You have website.com/page1, and you set 302 redirect to website.com/page2.
Now all the visitors to website.com/page1 will be automatically redirected to website.com/page2. But the difference here is that Google, and the rest of the searching engines won’t start indexing the second URL and will keep the first one in their indexes.
In our case with the e-commerce shop, you can use the 302 redirect to point the traffic from a “temporary out of stock” item like the black shoe model to another that you still have in gray. Your visitors will automatically move to the second page, and there is a good chance they will buy the slightly different variant.
Another very common use of the 302 redirect is for marketing purposes. You can create short URLs and use them to count visitors on each of the links that you can use in a different way. You can do A/B testing of 2 or more versions of a campaign and put a higher budget on the more successful one.
So, when we are comparing 301 redirect vs 302 redirect, the most important points that we must learn are that 301 redirect is permanent and the search engines will start indexing the page it leads to, while the 302 redirect is temporary and search engines won’t index the second page.