What Is a Redirect?

A redirect occurs when a user’s requested URL automatically forwards them to another URL, either on a new webpage or website. 

What Is a Redirect?

A redirect occurs when a user’s requested Uniform Resource Locator (URL) automatically forwards them to another URL, either on a new webpage or website. Different types exist for different reasons. Likewise, each type of redirect transfers its own amount of link equity, page authority, and page rank. Choosing the right redirect for your needs can ensure that any search engine optimization (SEO) value from your content marketing or link building efforts is not lost in the transition. 

Types of Redirects

There are two general types of redirects: server-side and client-side. In short, server-side activity refers to the activity that occurs on a given web “server,” while client-side activity refers to software that runs in a browser on a given “client’s” computer.

Below are the most common types of server-side redirects:

  • 301, “Moved Permanently” — SEO friendly
  • 302, “Found” or “Temporarily Moved”
  • 307, “Temporarily Moved”

The following are common client-side redirects: 

  • Meta Refresh redirect
  • Javascript redirect

301 Moved Permanently 

Permanently routing traffic from one page to a new URL is the essence of a 301 redirect. This rerouting passes the majority of link equity making it appealing to anyone who may be changing a company name, rebranding a company, or directing traffic from a similarly named URL. Essentially, a 301 redirect informs the search engine of your website’s whereabouts. 

302 Found (HTTP 11.0) / Temporarily Moved (HTTP 1.1)

Meant for only temporary use, a 302 redirect passes precisely no link equity to a new URL, given that it informs the search engine to keep the old URL in its index. No page rank, page authority, or traffic value is lost from the old URL, while none is gained in the new one. This type of redirect should be applied only if a webmaster knows they will revert back to their original URL soon again. 

307 Temporarily Moved 

Similar to a 302, a 307 redirect should be used for only a brief amount of time. Though they perform the same function, the 307 has become the preferred choice of redirect as it clearly states that the move is temporary. The 302, on the other hand, is often vague, leaving the search engine crawlers to decide whether or not a webmaster actually meant to employ the redirect.

Want to learn more?
Visit our blog to learn more about search and search engine optimization.
TO THE BLOG
SEO Keyword Research

SEO Keyword Research

Read our comprehensive SEO keyword research guide to learn how you can get your web pages to show up higher in the SERPs.

Link Building Guide

Link Building Guide

Check out our ultimate link building guide to learn how to earn powerful backlinks to empower your web content in search.

Meta Refresh

Meta refresh redirects are commonly associated with countdowns. Think of the phrase “if you are not redirected in ten seconds, click here.” This request can either refresh the page a user is currently on or bring them to a new page. During this transfer, no link equity is passed.

Using a meta refresh redirect is sometimes frowned upon by SEO experts as it disrupts the user experience. Redirecting a user without their permission can lead to confusion or even distrust of the webpage. Its once frequent use by spammers has made search engines wary as well. Too many meta refreshes by the same URL may cause search engines to deem the site as spam and even remove it from their index.  

JavaScript

The JavaScript redirect is the other client-side type. Running JavaScript redirects will only work on clients that execute that specific programming language. As a result, webmasters are usually better off utilizing a different redirect. 

Page Errors, Not Redirects

Despite some confusion on the internet, 400’s responses are not redirects, but rather error messages. Below are a few notable errors: 

  • 401s - A 401 error page is presented when a user tries to access a site they don’t have permission to. Usually, a valid user ID and password must be given to log in to the site. 
  • 404s - These are commonly associated with a “Page Not Found” display. A 404 is unattractive as it diminishes a user’s experience on a website. Properly managing 404 pages should be at the top of a website’s priorities.

How To Use Redirects for SEO

Using redirects is a common practice for a variety of scenarios. If your website needs maintenance, viewers can simply access it from a temporary site. Moreover, if you’re fully rebranding your company, you may benefit from creating a more relevant website name. 

301: When To Use

Any permanent move, such as the one in the second example, is always better off with a 301 redirect. These will not hurt any SEO value acquired by your old URL, as search engine bots transfer all page rank, traffic, and page authority to the new one. 

302 vs. 307: Which Is Better?

If your goal is not to pass link equity to a new URL, a 302 or 307 may be more appropriate. These redirects neither help nor hurt SEO. However, they can affect traffic in the long run. The 302 and 307 redirects are intended for only temporary use. 

Employing a 302 redirect is usually not recommended. Although it is useful for redesigning or updating a website, when traffic is redirected for too long a site’s search engine visibility becomes negatively impacted. SEO specialists typically favor a 302 redirect in situations where they don’t want to damage their old page’s rankings.

SEO buyer's guide
Download your SEO buyer's guide
Get a free buyer's guide to help you find the right SEO company!