A 302 redirect is a temporary redirect from one web page to another. The ‘302’ is the HTTP status code delivered to your browser from the server, it tells the browser that web page A has temporarily moved to web page B. The 302 redirect is the lesser-known and lesser-used younger brother to the 301 redirect, and for good reason. There are very few instances in which a 302 redirect should be used over and above a 301 redirect, especially for SEO. This is because search engines consider the redirect to indicate that it is a temporary fix and therefore the URL will become active again at some point in the future. As a result, unlike a 301 redirect which passes nearly all link metrics from one page to another, a 302 redirect does not pass any link metrics to the target page.
Similar to 301 redirects, with 302 redirects you can have on-domain and off-domain 302s. These are reasonably self-explanatory, an on-domain 302 redirect is a temporary redirect to another web page on the same domain, an off-domain is from a web page on a domain to another web page on a different domain.
When should you use a 302 redirect?
Only when a page has temporarily moved. This seems a little obvious, but there are very few instances in which a 302 should be used. One example is when a website is ‘undergoing maintenance’ and you want to redirect your traffic to a URL or website which can give the traffic some essential information whilst your main website is completed. Even in this rare case there are still some considerations to take into account such as hijacking. We would recommend no indexing the website or URL with the temporary essential information simply to avoid this being indexed as a substitute to your main page. Hijacking is where
302 referral hijacking
302 hijacking is now considered to be a fairly old school method of search engine spam. A spammer would 301 a page to your page, with the hope that the search engine would index the content of your page, but retain the spammer’s URL. In this way, as far as the search results are concerned, your content can be scraped to another website and that website can outrank yours even though what has actually happened is the spammer has tricked the search engine into indexing one page’s content on another’s URL.
Matt Cutts wrote an article on 302 redirects, explaining why hijacking occurs (very occasionally) and why Google, Yahoo! and other search engines reserve the right to make a choice on which content to display to the user in the case of a 302 redirect. Essentially, they can display the redirected page’s URL with the destination page’s content.
Technical implementation of 302 Redirects
In the .htaccess file:
Redirect 302 /examplepage.html http://targetexamplepage/NewPage.html
On an ASP website:
<%@ Language=VBScript %>
private void Page_Load(object sender, System.EventArgs e)
Response.Status = “302 Found”;
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