Understanding the Whats and Whens of Redirects
What is a redirect?
Redirects allow you to send users and search engines from the site that they initially requested to a new site. You might do this if you are doing maintenance on a particular page or if you are in the process of moving your site. Different redirects, however, will have different impacts on how search engines respond to them and the influence on your optimization efforts. The three main types of redirects are 301s, 302s, and Meta Refresh.
What is a 301 redirect?
A 301 redirect means that the page the user requested has been permanently moved to another location. This is generally regarded as the best method for SEO purposes. The page that the 301 sends the visitor to will receive most of the link power and PageRank that the original page had, which helps you to maintain your rankings on SERPs.
What is a 302 redirect?
A 302 redirect is a temporary redirect. If you are doing maintenance on your server and you need to temporarily have customers visit another page, then you will use a 302. Like a 301, these redirects to pass along PageRank and link power, but Google views this redirect as temporary, and thus will index the original and the destination site with that in mind. If you intend to have this redirect be permanent, it is in your best interest to make sure that it is properly noted as a 301.
What is a meta refresh redirect?
A meta refresh redirect will automatically send users from the original URL to the new URL after a certain number of seconds. This is the redirect that the site has used if you see the message, “If you are not redirected in X seconds, click here”. While these refreshes might pass along some of the link power of the original site, they are generally regarded as poor for the user experience and not the preferred means of redirecting traffic.
Redirects can be an important part of websites for a variety of reasons. Regardless of whether you need to redirect people to a new domain or just need to do some server maintenance, composing the redirects correctly can be very beneficial to your SEO and your readers.