302 Redirect: What Is It and When Should You Use It?

If you've got some URL shuffling on your website, you must let both your users and search engines know about it. That's where redirects come into play.

There are mainly two types of HTTP status codes for redirects: the 301 and the 302. To the average user, they might look the same, but for search engines, they're like apples and oranges.

In this article, you’ll learn about the 302 redirect, how you should use it, and its differences with the more popular 301 redirect.

What is a 302 Redirect?

The 302 redirect is one of the two ways to divert visitors from one page to another.

Think of a 302 redirect as a "We'll be right back" sign for your webpage. It’s not gone forever, just temporarily unavailable.

When you use a 302 redirect, you're telling users and search engine crawlers that the page they’re looking for is taking a quick break, but there's another page that might interest them in the meantime.

This nifty tool is excellent for SEO. Search engines are smart cookies. They pick up on these signals, and the type of redirect you choose can impact your SEO game big time. 

The 302 redirect keeps your keyword rankings and the value of your original page intact while steering traffic to a different spot on your site. 

So, even though your page is temporarily off-duty, your website's performance and user experience remain top-notch.

Plus, it's a lifesaver when you're sprucing up your site or working on a page that's still in the oven. Your users will avoid accidentally stumbling onto construction zones or outdated content. Instead, they'll be smoothly redirected to a more helpful destination.

You can set up both redirects using .htaccess file. But if you need help, an SEO agency like SEOLeverage audits your website for broken redirect links and provides an easy-to-follow SEO action plan to optimize your site’s SEO. 

302 Redirect vs. 301 Redirect

At first glance, they might seem like two peas in a pod because both take users to a different URL. 

For your website visitors, it's all smooth sailing. There’s no noticeable difference between these two redirect buddies. But it’s different for the search engine experience.

In a nutshell, a 301 redirect is a permanent change of address as it’s a permanent redirect from an old page, while a 302 redirect is a short-term pit stop while you sort out stuff in the back end.

When you want to make everlasting changes on your website, like moving content from “example.com/page-1” to “example.com/page-2” for good, a 301 is your go-to tool.

But when you're only doing some quick tweaks on your site — like A/B testing, setting up a temporary sales page, or doing a little website spring cleaning — the 302 is your friend for temporary redirects.

From an SEO point of view, 301s are great for consolidating and keeping the link juice intact. Google swiftly updates its database and switches its index to the new URL to keep your link equity. It’s best used for merging duplicate content or giving your URLs a permanent makeover. 

As for 302s, Google won’t rush to update its database or change its index. Your traffic, rankings, and authority stay right where they are.

If you accidentally pick a 302 instead, it's not a total catastrophe. Google's pretty smart — they'll notice if you meant a "temporary redirect" to be more long-term. They have their ways of figuring out which web page is the new canonical.

But if you let a 302 redirect hang around for too long, Google starts to treat it like a 301. 

When Should You Use 302 Redirects?

Are there specific instances when you should use a 302 redirect? Here’s a quick list.

Website Maintenance

Imagine you're working on a major facelift for your page, but it's a mess right now and not ready for prime time.

Use a 302 redirect to shoo away visitors while you're deep in construction mode. 

A/B Testing

If you're feeling adventurous and want to test a new landing page to see if it can outshine your current one, you’d want to divert a fraction of your traffic from the existing page (example.com/page-1) to your new test version (example.com/page-2).

A 302 redirect is perfect for this scenario because it's temporary. You're not permanently moving pages; you're just testing the waters.

Promotional Pages

If you're having a mega sale and you've whipped up a limited-time special page for the occasion, you can use a 302 redirect to make them land on your sale page while it’s still hot.

Just remember to take down the redirect when the sale wraps up.

Live Testing

If you’re cooking up an entire website flow so that site users will soon take a different path to find stuff or do things, it’s best to put a 302 redirect first. After all, before you launch the new page flow for real, you want to test the waters.

You can use a 302 to send visitors from “example.com/page” to “example.com/page-test.” Once you've gathered feedback and data, you can decide if it's a permanent change. If it is, you can either make the redirect permanent or replace the contents of the page. 

The keyword for a 302 redirect is temporary. Use it generously as you experiment with new ways to boost your website in search engine ranking with the help of SEOLeverage.