A guide to 301 vs 302 redirects for SEO

If you have a defunct page or one that’s not yet ready for customer’s eyes, you may want to use one of these redirects. It’s a common technical SEO practice – but which should you go for?

Here’s a simple guide to compare 301 vs 302 redirects and how each can affect your search visibility and performance.

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301 vs 302 redirects: What’s the difference?

First, we’ll quickly define each type of redirect, and then set the ground rules for when you should use them.

301 redirect

A 301 redirect indicates that a webpage has been moved permanently. Say you’ve got a webpage with completely out-of-date content or one that’s material is duplicated elsewhere on the site (on a better-performing page, for example), you might want to use a 301 direct to steer traffic to your preferred page.

Key SEO considerations

  • As a 301 redirect is permanent, it passes 90-99% of its link equity from the old page to the new one (note: this passing of equity is not instant and will take time).
  • Can be used to consolidate multiple pages and assist with canonicalisation.
  • John Mueller recommends that you should keep 301 redirects in place for at least a year.

302 redirect

A 302 redirect indicates that a webpage has been moved temporarily. You might have a page that’s currently under construction or in need of an update, but you’ve not yet got time to do it – in these instances, a 302 direct could be put in place until the preferred page is ready.

Key SEO considerations

  • As a 302 redirect is temporary, the original page preserves its link equity – ready for when it will be reinstated.
  • Because link equity is retained, the page holds onto its traffic value, keyword ranking, and authority.
  • If left in place too long, the original URL might remain indexed and compete with the new URL, leading to duplicate content issues and confusion.

301 or 302 redirects: Which to choose?

Depending on your intention with the webpage in which you intend to apply the redirect, either a 301 or 302 redirect could be most appropriate.

Common use cases

Reason 301 Redirect 302 Redirect
Permanently replacing a webpage or consolidating content
Running short-term marketing campaigns
Scheduled maintenance or updates
Site migration or change of domain names
To address instances of canonicalisation
A/B testing of webpage variations
Redirecting deleted or expired content temporarily

Is it possible for Google to treat a 302 redirect as 301?

Often, Google can land on a decision independently – even if it’s not the one that we intended. That’s why it’s so important to use redirects carefully.

If Google thinks that you’ve misapplied a 302 redirect to a page that you have no intention of reinstating, it might treat it as a permanent 301. If it does this, the new page could be indexed, and the link authority funnelled into it.

How does Google treat your URLs?

You can use the GSC’s URL Inspection tool to access this information.

Steps to take:

  • Open Google Search Console
  • Go to ‘Links’ – followed by ‘External Links’ and ‘Top linked pages’
  • Locate your ‘new’ URL in the report and click it
  • Filter the links by ‘Site’ and paste in the old page’s referring domains one by one

If you get no matches, Google is likely treating the 302 redirect as a soft 404, a confusing error.

However, if you do get matches, you can then click on the URL to see the actual links. If one of the links is in the ‘Target URL’ column, this means that the 302 is functioning properly and Google is consolidating the old with the new.

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