Derek Iwasiuk
Derek Iwasiuk 2 May 2018
Categories Technology

We need to revisit the topic of redirects

Websites can use 301 and 302 redirects in 2018 without worrying about the loss of Page Rank. Find out more in this article.

It might be 2018, but that does not solve the controversy of redirects. The confusion remains the same, and we still see quite sizable populations lobbying for either 301 or 302 redirects. Several SEO strategists swear by the effectiveness of 301 redirects. There are others who relate to the horror stories revolving around 302 redirects and how they earn penalties from Google PageRank all the time. However, what is the truth?

Why do we need to revisit the topic of redirects?

Google rolls out new algorithm changes quite frequently. Some are small, while others have huge impacts on how websites perceive SEO. The time when Google came up with the Answer Box feature, they nearly broke the internet. Entrepreneurs, digital marketing experts, and social media marketers went bonkers trying to figure out the new principles of ranking. People spent months, and sometimes years trying to decode the technique to feature in the answer box. Google is quite notorious that way, and it would be rather foolish just to say that one redirect is better than the other simply because an expert said so last year.

Which redirect would you use until 2017 anyway?

Now, let’s try to answer the question you have been asking for a while – should we use 301 redirects while moving content from one page to another? To make the motherload of all understatements, we can say “yes” and leave it at that. In reality, you need to understand why you should pick 301 instead of 302 to stay in Google’s good books.

To help all the leading search engines understand that you are moving your URL to a new location with identical content, you should always go for a 301 redirect. It always passes PageRank and does not raise red flags during search engine crawling either. For example, if you have a URL related to a page how to build a PBN but you move the page to a new URL. Since the two URLs, the original one and the new one, have identical content you can use a 301 redirect that indicates a permanent move.

What's the buzz about all 300 server-side redirects?

To the relief of all webmasters, who are already using 302 redirects, Gary Illyes, a Google Spokesperson recently confirmed that almost all 300 redirects could pass PageRank. Yes, this includes 301, 302 and even 307. He went as far as to recommend "anything you would like" to site owners on his Twitter thread. The situations are changing, and the choice of your redirects will depend more on the appropriate circumstances and webpage position rather than PageRank influences.

This is the situation with Google. Therefore, you need to stop a little and recheck your search engine traffic sources. Do all of your website visitors use Google? Do you have a fair share of traffic from Bing and Yahoo as well? Bing rules over 33% of the US market share, and Bing's algorithm prefers the use of 301 server-side redirects for permanent moves. If the move is temporary, then 302 redirects are preferable as far as Bing is concerned.

Things will be different for Asian search engines

Baidu and Shenma dominate the search engine market in China. Google has a meager 1.5% market share. It will not do you much good to focus on Google's preferences if your target market is China. 

Since Google has already declared equality between all 300 server-side redirects, we suggest our readers use a 301 redirect when you are redirecting a user to an identical content, and the content will never come back to the original URL. In fact, when unsure, just go with a 301 redirect. In a case where your target users access your website homepage using several URLs, it is often a better idea to just pick one and use 301 redirects to divert the traffic from the rest of the URLs. You simply cannot go wrong with a 301 anymore! Also, just in case you know that the old content is NOT equivalent to the new, use a 404. 

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