A Short Case Study of Server Redirects 301 and 302 – What is URL Redirection.

Web pages URL change frequently while site owners change their domain name or restructure the website to deliver the products and services in a newer way. All these alterations require changing the website URL. If the site owner changes the name of the URL, the web visitors as well as the search engines face difficulties while trying to locate the new page. Under such circumstances redirection is the solution. With the help of redirection site owners can send a request to search engines to let the web users know where to find the location of the new page. In this connection, the web server plays a dominant role in pointing out the new website from the old.


The update code is sent by the server to display the “404 Not Found” web page. Generally, the two types of code that are sent out regarding redirection are 301 and 302. Most PHP codes use 301. In HT Access, 301 redirects are specifically utilized for moving a page, directory or an entire site. An ASP 301 redirect can change the language, status as well as the Reader. The 302 temporary redirects are used when a page has been “temporarily” moved to a new location on the web or within the site. The 302 redirects are effective where the website owner wants to keep the targeted audience as the search engines relate to the old site address rather than the new one.


This action is, however, not recommended because such practices are noticed in spam sites which are blacklisted or penalized by search engines. A 302 redirect in HT Access can redirect a page directly or the entire site but it is best to avoid this action as it results in website “hijacking”. Search engines prefer 301 redirects when a page has been deleted or moved. If the page is being permanently removed they would prefer “404 Not Found” error. While moving sites from HT Access file of the old site to a new site, the general practice is to redirect from the old URL pattern to the new one.


The process can be confusing because search engines prefer to use 301 redirects when moving a site whereas server software tends to use 302 redirects as the default when the site owner implements a generic redirect. Search engines generally interpret 302 as an instruction to index the old URL with a new content. It retains the old URL since the server has specified that the new URL is only “temporary”. The URL may be for the old site but the title and description in the search results are from the new one. However, in case of 301 redirects search engines interpret them as instructions to replace the old URL with a new one. The new URL ranks the website for the same search term as the old URL which indicates that the links and Anchor Texts that pointed to the old URL are being transferred to the new URL.

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