301 vs. 302 Redirects: When and Why to Use Them

301 vs. 302 Redirects: When and Why to Use Them header image

Moving your website to a new URL? Testing new page functions or features? Looking to upgrade from HTTP to HTTPS? 301 and 302 redirects can help.

How exactly do these redirects work? What’s the difference, and when does it make sense to use each type? In this piece, we’ll cover 301 vs. 302 forwarding basics, highlight key differences and offer examples of common 301 and 302 use cases.

What Is a 301 Redirect?

A 301 redirect is a permanent change. It sends visitors to your new URL and tells search engines that your site has permanently moved. While 301 redirects are considered permanent, this doesn’t mean they’re immutable. You can still choose to remove the 301 forwarding entirely or update the 301 redirect to send users somewhere else.

What is a 302 Redirect?

A 302 redirect is temporary. It’s designed to let search engines know that your URL change isn’t forever. As a result, search results should still list your original webpage.

301 vs. 302 — What’s the Difference?

So, what’s the difference between a 301 and 302 redirect?

First is the purpose.

301 redirects reflect a permanent change. Your current site might be moving to a new URL, or you might be merging two older sites into a single, newer version.

302 redirects are temporary. While they also send users to a different page, there are no plans to make this new page permanent.

Second is the impact.

Because a 301 redirect is permanent, you don’t lose your SEO or search rankings. Instead, search engines transfer all this search data to your new site. Much like a change of address form with the post office, a 301 redirect indicates that this is your site’s new “home”. Over time, search engines will send fewer visitors to the original site.

A 302 redirect, meanwhile, is temporary. This means your search rankings and SEO don’t transfer; instead, the 302 HTTP status code tells search engines this new URL isn’t here to stay. This means that if you have a temporary site that ends up becoming permanent, it’s worth going back to change the redirect code from 302 to 301, so you don’t lose your search rankings.

When to Use a 301 vs. 302 Redirect

When does it make sense to use a temporary vs. permanent redirect? It all depends on your use case.

Use a 301 redirect when:

  • Changing the URL of a webpage: If you’re permanently changing the URL of your current webpage, a 301 redirect is your best choice.
  • Merging two or more sites: If you’re combining two or more websites into a single, new URL, use a 301 redirect on both sites and point to their new permanent home.
  • Creating a new website: Have a completely new website but don’t want to lose your SEO ranking? Opt for 301.
  • Upgrading from HTTP to HTTPS: HTTPS upgrades help improve website security but change the URL of your site. Use a 301 redirect in this case.

Use a 302 redirect when:

  • Testing new website features or functions: If you’re testing new functionality but want to make sure your original site isn’t affected, use a 302 redirect.
  • Gathering feedback: 302 redirects can send users to a new webpage and help you gather feedback on its layout and functionality before you make it permanent.
  • Achieving specific goals: 302 redirects can also be used for specific goals — such as sales or temporary promotions — by directing users to a purpose-built site.
  • Redirecting for language or location: Use a 302 redirect if you’re sending users to a location- or language-specific website that may change URLs over time.

Name and Number: Making the Most of 301 and 302 Redirects

Looking to set 301 and 302 redirects? Website hosting with Name.com makes it easy. 

Here’s how to redirect a page. First, log into your account, select Site Settings, Redirects, and then Add a Redirect. Enter the URL of the page you want to redirect from, the URL of the page you’re redirecting to, and then select the type (301 or 302).

That’s it — you’re ready to go. Head back to the Redirects page to see your active redirects and make any necessary changes.

Ready for redirects? Choose the option that works best for you: 301 for permanent changes of address, and 302 for temporary pages, testing or achieving short-term goals. Make these numbers work for you with Name.com.