Glossary  |  2 mins

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A redirect is an HTML status code that’s used to navigate users and search engine crawlers away from the URL that they’d originally requested, and to a different, specified URL.

Redirects are an important consideration for SEO for two main reasons.

First of all, it prevents users from landing on dead-end 404 pages when browsing your site and ensures a positive user experience. Secondly, redirects can help search engines to understand the structure of your site, and let them know which content to crawl, rank, and index when a page has been redirected.

The various types of redirect can be used to tell a search engine whether a redirection is permanent or temporary, which will have a direct effect on how this content appears in search results.

Types of Redirects

Every kind of redirect returns a 3xx HTTP status code when a user or bot requests a certain page. Here are two of the most common 3xx redirects that every SEO professional should be aware of:

301 Redirect: By far the most common kind of redirect, a 301 status code will forward users on to the replacement content and tell crawlers that the page has been permanently relocated. When a search engine detects a 301 redirect, it will usually remove the old URL from its index with the new URL put in its place. Most search engines transfer PageRank or the equivalent to the replacement URL.

302 Redirect: 302 redirects navigate browsers to a replacement URL and sends a signal to search engines that the content has been moved, but only temporarily. 302s cause the search engine crawling the resource to keep the original URL indexed, despite the fact it’s being redirected. Note that 303 and 307 redirects effectively serve the same purpose as 302s.

Redirect Best Practices for SEO

In the vast majority of cases, SEOs should use 301 redirects for any instance where they want to serve up a new piece of content for an existing URL on their site.

This will let users and search engines know that the page has been moved permanently, and that the old URL is no longer in use.

302 redirects should only be applied when you’re working on a site where pages may become inaccessible for a limited period of time, for example when A/B testing or targeting special offers to a certain region or device type. This will ensure a smooth user experience without the risk of the old page being removed from a search engine index.

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Redirects FAQs

What is URL redirect?

A URL redirect is an HTTP status code that takes users and crawlers to a URL other than the one that they originally requested. Redirects can be used to show that the content at a certain URL has been moved permanently or temporarily.

What does a 301 redirect do?

301 redirects are used when a page has been moved to another URL permanently. When a search engine crawler visits a page with a 301 redirect applied, it will usually drop the original URL from its index and replace it with one that it’s redirected to. 301 redirects will also carry over PageRank and any links pointing to the URL, maintaining the rankings and traffic of the original page.

Questions to ask your link builder