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301 vs. 302 – Which One Suits Your Needs? 301 Redirect – The SEO way to rename or move files or folders

In the ever-evolving landscape of SEO, every detail counts. Among the many tools at your disposal are redirects, particularly the 301 and 302 redirect. These seemingly similar techniques serve different purposes, and understanding when and how to use them can make a substantial difference in your website’s performance. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the benefits and differences between 301 and 302 redirects, helping you make informed decisions to enhance your web presence.

The Redirect Revolution

  • Explore how redirects can shape your website’s destiny.

In the dynamic world of SEO, redirects play a pivotal role in shaping your website’s destiny. They come in two main flavors: the formidable 301 redirect and the versatile 302 redirect. Understanding their differences and when to use them is essential for optimizing your web presence.

 The Mighty 301 Redirect

  • Discover how a 301 redirect can permanently change your website’s trajectory.

The 301 redirect is like a permanent signpost for your website. It tells search engines that your old page has moved to a new location, and this change is permanent. It’s ideal when you want to consolidate or replace old content with new pages. Implementing 301 redirects not only preserves your search engine rankings but also ensures a seamless user experience.

 The Versatile 302 Redirect

  • Unveil the dynamic nature of 302 redirects and their temporary influence.

On the other hand, the 302 redirect is a temporary detour. It tells search engines that the change is not permanent and the original page will return. This is handy when you’re working on a temporary promotion or maintenance, or when you want to test a new page without committing to a permanent change.

  • Navigate the decision-making process between 301 and 302 redirects.

Choosing the right redirect strategy can be crucial, and our experts at SEO Website Masters are here to assist you. We specialize in web design, SEO, and internet marketing services, helping you make the right choices to boost your online visibility and user experience. Whether it’s a 301 for permanence or a 302 for flexibility, we’re here to navigate the complexities of SEO and lead you to success.


What is a 301 redirect? A1: A 301 redirect is a server response code indicating a permanent redirection of a webpage to a new URL. It informs both users and search engines that the old URL has been replaced by the new one.

What is 301 and 302 redirect? A2: A 301 redirect is a permanent redirection, while a 302 redirect is a temporary one. The former is used when you want the change to be permanent, and the latter when the change is temporary.

Are 301 redirects good or bad? A3: 301 redirects are generally good when you need to permanently replace old content with new pages. They maintain SEO rankings and provide a seamless user experience.

How do you do a 301 redirect? A4: You can implement a 301 redirect using server-side code or through your website’s CMS. It involves specifying the old URL and the new destination.

What is a 302 redirection? A5: A 302 redirection is a temporary redirect that informs search engines and users that the original URL will return. It’s suitable for short-term changes or testing.

Should I use 301 or 302 redirect? A6: Choose a 301 redirect for permanent changes and preserving SEO. Use a 302 redirect for temporary alterations or when you’re not certain about the change.

Why are 302 redirects bad? A7: 302 redirects can be problematic if used incorrectly. Search engines may interpret them differently, potentially affecting SEO rankings.

What is an example of a 302 redirect? A8: Imagine a website running a limited-time sale. A 302 redirect could be used to temporarily redirect the homepage to the sale page. After the sale ends, the homepage would revert to its original URL.

The SEO Website Masters Advantage

Elevate your SEO game with the experts at SEO Website Masters.

In the world of SEO, knowing when to use a 301 or 302 redirect can significantly impact your website’s visibility, user experience, and search engine rankings. By understanding the benefits and differences between these two strategies, you’re better equipped to make informed decisions that will unlock the full potential of your online presence. Whether you choose the permanence of a 301 or the flexibility of a 302, SEO Website Masters is here to guide you on your journey to digital success.

301 Redirect – The SEO way to rename or move files or folders


In this article I will discuss page redirection techniques, what works and what to avoid.

What is page redirection and why would you want to use it?

Let’s say you rename a page on your website, for whatever reason. Perhaps you decided to revamp your entire naming convention, perhaps you decided to restructure your site and need to move pages into different folders, or you just realized that you are missing valuable keywords.

Let’s elaborate a bit on the keywords issue, since it is part of your search engine ranking success.

Let’s say the page in question is about customized USB drives and you named it page1.htm. Then you read some SEO (Search Engine Optimization) articles and you found out that some search engines use words in the actual file name as search keywords. Next time you do a Google search, take a look at the results, most will have words in the actual file name (in the URL section) bolded, denoting a keyword match. Your USB drives page will definitely benefit if named something like custom_usb_drives.htm instead.

Now that you renamed your page, you just created a symphony of issues for yourself, for your users and for your position in search engine results.

Linking issues:

You will have to point every link on your site to the new page name. If your site is small, it should not be a big deal, but if your site is large, you will inevitably make mistakes, mainly forgetting a link or two. This will result in visitors getting the dreaded “404 page not found” error when clicking on your links, robots (also know as crawlers or spiders) avoiding you, etc. Also, if you are heavily relying on visitors from search engines, then again, people will get a “404 page not found error”.

301 Redirect - The SEO way to rename or move files or folders1

Let’s use the previous example, for a long time your page1.htm was indexed by major search engines. If someone types “custom usb drives” in a search engine box, your page shows up on the first search results screen. That is fantastic, only if someone clicks on the link, they will be pointed to page1.htm, not to custom_usb_drives.htm, because the first page is the one in the search engine’s index. It will take time, sometimes months, before the search engines update their indexes with your new page name.

Lost Page Rank (PR) issues:

Google developed a proprietary algorithm that assigns a Page Rank (PR) to every page on the web. PR is a number from 1 to 10 (10 being the ideal) and is intended to be a representation of how useful and popular a given page is. PR is influenced by many factors, one of the crucial ones being Link Popularity. Link Popularity is a representation of how many “quality” or “relevant” sites link to your page. Without getting into too much detail, it is increasingly difficult and time consuming to achieve a high PR for your pages, especially if you don’t have a really unique website with exceptional and highly sought after content. If you are merely operating a commercial site, in a competitive market (such as selling custom branded USB drives, as in our example), then it takes a lot of time and hard work to build a good page PR.

When you rename a page and discard the old page, you also discard the PR of the page. Your renamed page will be seen as a totally new page, with 0 PR.

What is the solution?

I will start by enumerating some of the methods used by the non-initiated.

Not recommended solution 1: Duplicate content.

First thing that probably comes in you mind is: well, why can’t you just duplicate the page and let nature take its course. In other words, you will have two identical pages, one named page1.htm and one custom_usb_drives.htm. This gives you time to update all links and the search engines will eventually index the new page.

This solution is not viable because search engines will penalize you quite badly, ‘thinking’ that you are trying to scam them by using the ‘duplicate content’ technique.

Not recommended solution 2: Custom error message.

You could create a custom error page. However, you will lose rankings on the next search engine update as the file will appear to be non-existent. As discussed above, it could be some time before the page with the new name will be indexed and will appear in people’s searches. Also, your web site visitors will be frustrated by the fact that they now have to dig through your site to find the desired information.

Not recommended solution 3: An HTML Meta redirect.

You could implement a so called Meta refresh in a blank or customized page that has the name of the old page (in our example, page1.htm) that points to the new page. The redirect can be instant, or delayed by a predetermine amount of time. The delayed redirect has the advantage that you can place an extra message, such as “please be aware that the page you are looking for changed location….. etc., etc…. you will be redirected automatically to the new location”

In the past, this was probably the most used technique.

Without getting into the mechanics of the Meta redirect, which is basically a META tag statement you ad to your HEADER section, know that there are also Java Script techniques that achieve similar results.

What is bad about this is that this is a technique often used by spammers to trick search engines and it should be avoided, unless the page is in a section of your site that isn’t indexed (also known as spidered or crawled). Search engine spammers create a page that is optimized for certain keywords and phrases – it usually has no real content. The page is then picked up by some search engines, but when a visitor clicks on the search engine entry, they are redirected to another site, often unrelated. Most search engines have filters to detect this. Using this form of search engine deception will see a site eventually banned or penalized by major players such as Google.

The recommended redirect strategy – 301 Redirect

A 301 redirect is the most efficient, visitor friendly, robot (spider, crawler) friendly and search engine friendly solution around for web sites that are hosted on servers running Apache. If you are not sure, check with your hosting provider.

A 301 redirect is just a set of commands you type into your .htaccess file.

When a visitor (whether human or robotic) requests a web page via any means, your web server checks for a .htaccess file. The .htaccess file contains specific instructions for certain requests, including security, redirection issues and how to handle certain errors.

The code “301” is interpreted as “moved permanently”. After the code, the URL of the missing or renamed page is noted, followed by a space, then followed by the new location or file name.

First of all, you’ll need to find the .htaccess file in the root directory of where all your web pages are stored. If there is no .htaccess file there, you can create one with Notepad or a similar application. Make sure when you name the file that you remember to put the “.” at the beginning of the file name. This file has no tail extension.

Some hosting providers offer redirect services through their “control panels”, so you don’t have to perform low level changes on the .htaccess file itself. Instead, they provide a user friendly interface for this. Check with your hosting provider to see what the optimal way to perform a 301 redirect is in your case. I will continue the article with the barebones solution.

If there is a .htaccess file already in existence with lines of code present, be very careful not to change any existing line unless you are familiar with the functions of the file.

Scroll down past all the existing code, leave a line space, then create a new line that follows this example:

redirect 301 /folder/page1.htm http://www.you.com/folder/custom_usb_drives.htm

It’s as easy as that. Save the file, upload it back into your web and test it out by typing in the old address to the page you’ve changed. You should be instantly and seamlessly transported to the new location.

Notes: Be sure not to add “http://www” to the first part of the statement – just put the path from the top level of your site to the page. Also ensure that you leave a single space between these elements:

redirect 301 (the instruction that the page has moved)

/folder/page1.htm (the original folder path and file name)

http://www.you.com/folder/custom_usb_drives.htm (new path and file name)

The same format applies not only to renamed files, but also to files moved to a different location.

The 301 redirect is the safest way to preserve your rankings. On the next indexing (crawling, spidering), the search engine robot will obey the rule indicated in your .htaccess file and index the new page name every time a link or its internal database tries to access the old page. In the next update (again, this could take months), the old file name and path will be dropped and replaced with the new one. Sometimes you may see alternating old/new file names during the transition period, along with some possible fluctuations in rankings as things settle. Don’t panic, this is normal.

What if your site is hosted on a Microsoft IIS server instead?

If you have access to the server, do this: In internet services manager, right click on the file or folder you wish to redirect. Select the radio titled “a redirection to a URL”. Enter the redirection page, check “The exact url entered above” and the “A permanent redirection for this resource”. Click “Apply”.

If you do not have access to the server, ask your host to point you into the right direction.

In conclusion, the best and the most transparent way (to both human and robotic users) to rename and move files on your web site, while preserving your search engine ranks is the 301 redirect. More.


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