HTTP 302 Redirects: What Is It? When To Use?

June 12, 2024 | Technical SEO

It is a common scenario for websites to need to relocate content temporarily during maintenance or a redesign. HTTP 302 redirection comes very handy in these situations where you want to divert your readers from one web page to another.

However, you need to ensure proper implementation of HTTP 302 redirects to get the benefits. Otherwise, it can deeply harm the SEO of your website. This article shall cover all you need to know about HTTP 302 redirects.

Let’s dive in!

What Is HTTP 302 Redirect?

HTTP 302 Redirect: All You Need To Know About Temporary Redirect?

HTTP 302 redirect is an HTTP status code that indicates to search engines and users about the temporary relocation of a web page.

How Does 302 Redirection Work?

HTTP code 302 ensures that users do not land on outdated or under-construction web pages of your website and thus enhances the user experience.

Stack overflow diagram of HTTP 302 redirect

Implementing HTTP 302 status code automatically redirects readers to the new page location.

301 Redirects Vs 302 Redirects

HTTP 301 Redirect vs HTTP 302 redirect

When To Use HTTP 302 Redirection?

You can consider using HTTP 302 redirects for any temporary relocation of your content. However, temporary does not specify any time frame for HTTP 302 redirects.

Google recommends using 301 redirects only when you are sure the relocation will be permanent and won’t revert. You can use HTTP 302 redirects for all other temporary situations. 

Website Redesign Or Maintenance

Suppose you are planning a website redesign or maintenance, it would be helpful to use HTTP 302 redirects to temporarily shift visitors to the new address.

Website redesign and maintenance

If you plan a significant update of one of your web pages and do not want visitors to see the changes before you finish the update, you can send them to a new address using HTTP 302 redirects. 

A/B Testing

A/B Testing is creating a new version of a web page and testing its performance with the existing version.

For example, you are A/B testing a landing page. You must be eager to send a certain amount of traffic to the test version of the page from the existing version.

A/B Testing

You must use an HTTP 302 status code for this temporary situation, as the landing page is yet to be shifted permanently to a new address.

Promotional Pages For Limited Time

Suppose you are running a stock clearance sales campaign for a limited period and created a web page solely for that purpose.

Temporary promotional landing pages

You must use HTTP 302 redirects to shift visitors to that temporary promotional page from your sales landing page.

Pre-Launch Testing

Suppose you are designing a new path flow for your website users to gather information or perform a call to action on your website.

Live website testing

You must test the performance of the new flow design on your live website before launching it finally. Here, you can use an HTTP 302 temporary redirect to test the new flow design and collect temporary data.

How To Implement An HTTP 302 Temporary Redirect?

Now that you know the purpose of HTTP 302 redirects, we will discuss how to implement HTTP 302 redirects in this section of the article. If your website uses WordPress, you can add aN HTTP 302 redirect directly or use the correct plugins.

Plugins

The following are the most popular plugins used in WordPress to add or remove HTTP 302 redirects.

Yoast SEO Plugin

You need to take a Yoast premium subscription to use the Yoast SEO redirect manager to add and remove 302 redirects.

Yoast SEO redirect manager

First, go to ‘Yoast SEO’ > ‘Redirects’ from the WordPress sidebar and then fill the required fields shown in the above image.

Type = 302

Old URL = Original web page’s URL without the root domain

URL = New web page’s URL without the root domain

Next, you need to click the ‘Add Redirect’ button.

Redirection Plugin

First, go to ‘Tools’ > ‘Redirection’ from the WordPress sidebar. Next, you need to find the ‘Add new redirection’ form from the ‘Redirects’ page.

‘Add new redirection’ form in the ‘Redirects’ page.

Then, you need to fill the required fields shown in the above image.

Source URL = Original web page’s URL without the root domain

HTTP code = 302

Target URL = New web page’s URL without the root domain

Next, you need to click the ‘Add Redirect’ button.

Rank Math Plugin

First, go to ‘Rank Math’ > ‘Redirections’ from the WordPress sidebar.

Next, you need to click the ‘Add New’ button on the ‘Redirections’ page.

Add redirections page

Then, you need to fill the required fields shown in the above image.

Source URLs = Original web page’s URL without the root domain

Destination URL = New web page’s URL without the root domain

Redirection Type = 302 Temporary Move

Next, you need to click the ‘Add Redirection’ button.

Direct Methods

If you wish to avoid plugins, you can manually implement the HTTP 302 status code in the PHP header or on the server side.

PHP Redirects

As shown below, you can add an HTTP 302 status code at the very top of the PHP header before HTML or echo functions.

Adding HTTP 302 status code in PHP header

Here, example.com/page-1 is redirecting to example.com/page-2. However, manually implementing and managing a bunch of PHP redirects can be challenging.

Apache Server

Now, let us see how you can implement HTTP 302 redirection on the server side. 

If the Apache server hosts your website, you can implement the HTTP 302 status code by editing the .htaccess file in the WordPress root directory.

First, you must enable the mod_rewrite and then use RewriteEngine to implement the HTTP 302 redirects.

Redirecting A Single Web Page

Suppose you need to redirect a single web page to another web page.

Code for redirecting a single page

The above simple code will serve the purpose.

Simple code mod_alias

However, using mod_alias is another option for adding simple HTTP 302 redirects like the above one.

Redirecting A Directory

Suppose you want to temporarily relocate a full directory. In that case, you can redirect each page of the old directory to a new URL within the new directory by using simple code, as shown in the example below.

Code for redirecting each page of an old directory to a new URL within a new directory

Here, the code will redirect /old-directory/page-1 to /new-directory/page-1.

You can also write code to redirect all pages of an old directory to a single new page, as shown in the example below.

Code for redirecting all pages of an old directory to a single new page

Here, the code will redirect both /old-directory/page-1 and /old-directory/page-2 to the new URL, /new page. 

Nginx Server

If the Nginx server hosts your website, you can implement the HTTP 302 status code by editing the .conf file in the server root directory.

Redirecting A Single Web Page

Suppose you need to redirect a single web page to another web page.

Code for redirecting a single page

The above simple code will serve the purpose of redirecting /page-1 to /page-2. 

Redirecting A Directory

Suppose you want to temporarily relocate a full directory. In that case, you can redirect each page of the old directory to separate new pages within the new directory by using code, as shown in the example below.

Code for redirecting each page of an old directory to separate new pages within a new directory.

Here, the code will redirect /old-directory/page-1 to /new-directory/page-1 and /old-directory/page-2 to /new-directory/page-2.

You can also write code to redirect all pages of an old directory to a single new page, as shown in the example below.

Code for redirecting all pages of an old directory to a single new page

Here, the code will redirect both /old-directory/page-1 and /old-directory/page-2 to the new URL, /new page. 

Windows Server

If a Windows server with ASP.NET hosts your website, you can implement the HTTP 302 status code by editing the web.config file.

Redirecting A Single Web Page

Suppose you need to redirect a single web page to another web page.

Code for redirecting a single page

The above code will serve the purpose of redirecting /page-1 to /page-2. 

Redirecting A Directory

If you want to temporarily relocate a full directory, you can redirect each page of the old directory to separate new pages within the new directory by using code, as shown in the example below.

Code for redirecting each page of an old directory to separate new pages within a new directory

Here, the code will redirect /old-directory/page-1 to /new-directory/page-1 and /old-directory/page-2 to /new-directory/page-2. You can also write code to redirect all pages of an old directory to a single new page, as shown in the example below.

Code for redirecting all pages of an old directory to a single new page

Here, the code will redirect both /old-directory/page-1 and /old-directory/page-2 to the new URL, /new page. 

How Does HTTP 302 Impact SEO?

This section of the article shall discuss the impact of HTTP 302 redirections on your website’s SEO. Let us start with the positive ones first,

Positive Impacts

First, you must remember that HTTP 302 redirects are meant to improve user experience during the temporary relocations of content and not to improve or resolve your website’s technical SEO issues.

However, using HTTP 302 redirects provides you with the following two benefits,

  1. HTTP 302 redirects ensure that your web pages get appropriately indexed and do not show incomplete content or offer usability issues.
  2. HTTP 302 redirection preserves backlinks and rankings of web pages even when they are temporarily unavailable or undergoing maintenance.

Negative Impacts 

Using wrong HTTP 302 redirects can create the following problems for your website’s SEO,

  1. It can show the wrong version of a web page in search results. 
  2. Google considers HTTP 302 redirects to be a weak signal and shows the original URL of the web page in search results even after implementing temporary redirection.
  3. HTTP 302 redirects do not gain any ‘link equity’.

5 Common Mistakes While Using HTTP 302 Status Code

Most website owners commit the following five common mistakes while implementing HTTP 302 redirection:

Using HTTP 302 Redirection For Permanent Changes

The most common mistake is using HTTP 302 redirects to relocate a web page permanently.

HTTP 302 redirection should only be used for temporary changes, and if the change becomes permanent, it should be updated to a 301 redirection. Performing a technical SEO audit on your website using a reliable crawler like the RankWatch site auditor can help you identify web pages with redirections.

RankWatch Site auditor

The tool provides an HTTP status code distribution report showing a complete list of web pages with different status codes.

HTTP status code distribution report

You can quickly check if HTTP 302 redirection is wrongly implemented on your web pages.

Creating Redirect Chains

When an HTTP 302 redirects users to a web page and that web page has another HTTP 302 that redirects them to another page, it is called a redirect chain.

For example,

/page-1 has a 302 that redirects to /page-2

/page-1 has a 302 that redirects to /page-3

What a redirect chain looks like?

Redirect chains make users bounce from one page to another, which creates a poor and frustrating user experience. Moreover, redirect chains can harm the performance of your website by creating a slow page loading speed.

Configuring Loops Of 302 Status Code

It is called a redirect loop when wrongly configuring HTTP 302 status codes redirects users back and forth between two or more web pages.

For example,

/page-1 has a 302 that redirects to /page-2

/page-2 has a 302 that redirects back to /page-1

Redirect loop

Configuring redirect loops confuses browsers about which page to show, and finally, it returns an ‘ERR_TOO_MANY_REDIRECTS’  message, as shown below.

ERR_TOO_MANY_REDIRECTS message in Chrome browser

The wrong HTTP 302 configuration takes place mainly because of the following two reasons,

  1. Accidentally placing redirects that try to send users from one web page to multiple other web pages.
  2. Placing redirects that point to each other by mistake.
  3. Using redirect plugins that conflict with each other.

Clearing your browser caches & cookies and turning off browser extensions can help you solve 302 redirect loop issues.

Keeping 302 Redirects Intact

As mentioned earlier, 302 redirects should be used only for temporary changes. Once the temporary requirement is over, you must remember to remove the HTTP 302 redirect.

If you keep the 302 redirects indefinitely and forget to remove them, search engines may consider it a permanent relocation. That, in turn, causes a poor user experience.

Losing URL Parameters

Ideally, 302 redirects must pass the URL parameters of the original URL to the URL of the new page. Wrongly configuring 302 redirects may cause losing URL parameters while passing them to the new URL.

You can avoid this by adjusting your redirect plugin configuration or using Regular Expressions (RegEx) to ensure that all URL parameters are passed from the old URL to the new URL.

The RankWatch redirect checker tool

Once you finish configuring the 302 redirects, you can check their redirection paths using the RankWatch URL redirect checker tool to ensure they take visitors to the right destination.

Final Thoughts

Websites often get redesigned or undergo maintenance or need to perform A/B testing on their landing pages. They need to temporarily move web page content during these situations to ensure users do not land on an under-construction page or view incomplete content. Moreover, sales campaigns for a limited time need temporary promotional pages for that sole purpose.

302 redirection comes in handy to tackle all these temporary relocation needs. However, you must follow the valuable tips provided in this article to ensure correctly implementing your 302 redirects. Otherwise, it may cause problems like showing the wrong version of the web page in search results or a poor page loading speed.

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