One of my biggest pet peeves as an SEO provider is being kept in the dark by a client. I’m not sure if they think I’ll be mad at them because they are redesigning their site or what (for the record, I think most sites could stand a redesign every few years) but on more than one occasion in my 12+ year career in the world of SEO and online marketing, I’ve had a client launch a new site without telling me about it. Why does that bother me? Because more often than not they forget to redirect all their old inbound links to the new site! Years of link building and site trust go down the drain in an instant. There is no way to get it back except with time.
What is a 301 redirect?
Sites need to use a 301 redirect when they remove a page from their website. You don’t want to send the search engines or your visitors to a dead page, nor do you want inbound links pointing to that page to go to waste. A 301 redirect will reroute any links (and subsequent link juice) pointing to the dead page to a new page or existing page on your site.
If you are launching a brand new site with a new URL, it is crucial that you redirect all of the old pages and links to the new site! A huge ranking factor in SEO is the amount of trust the search engines have in your site and this trust is earned with age. A brand new site has ZERO trust with the search engines, meaning you’ll lose all of your online brand recognition, rankings and traffic if you don’t use a 301 redirect to pass the old site’s trust factor over to the new site.
I had a client once that launched a new site (without telling me first) and their traffic dropped from 15,000 unique visitors a month to barely 2,000! We are starting to see substantial visitor growth, but it isn’t anywhere near what the old site was getting.
What is a 302 redirect?
A 302 redirect is more of a temporary solution. Think of them like a “We’ll be back in 5 minutes” sign you might see in the window of a local convenience store. You would want to use a 302 redirect for a page that is temporarily unavailable, like if an e-commerce website ran out of stock for one product. You don’t want visitors trying to purchase a product that is unavailable, so you would use a 302 redirect to lead them somewhere else.
A 302 redirect is not as “SEO friendly” as a 301 redirect because it does not pass the link juice from one URL to another. This means the new page destination won’t benefit from the other page’s links. The search engines will also not remove any URL that has been 302 redirected from their index, meaning they will keep trying to crawl it.