302 & 301 Redirect: Rules of the Game Have Changed

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If you use any 301 or redirects on your website, this information requires your attention.

Nowadays, SEO specialists are implementing different approaches for how to manage the redirection of URLs.  Pointing one link to another is one of the most popular problems that need to be solved. In this article, we will review some changes that you need to be aware of to handle all redirects properly.

Why 302 & 301 Redirect Rules Are Changing

What we know about redirects

  • 301 redirect is permanent redirect and it “tells” Google that the page is permanently migrated to another page. What is significant for SEO is that this redirect passes the PageRank page to the new one, but at the same time, about 15% of PageRank may be lost. Matt Cutts corroborated this information in 2013 when he specified that a 301 has approximately the same loss of PageRank as the link from one webpage to another.
  • 302 redirect doesn’t transmit PageRank at all because it is temporary. Therefore, search engines consider them differently.
  • During the website migration to HTTPs, it loses PageRank, because a lot of 301 redirects are implemented to ensure seamless migration processes.

Recently, we have discussed 3xx redirects topic on our blog. Read more here.

In fact, a lot of SEO experts and webmasters face such problems when they want to change URLs and redirect old product pages or irrelevant pages, or even move the whole website. Possible traffic loss forces them to make a decision not to implement any changes at all and delay the website from moving to HTTPs, keeping the old URLs and so on.

How 3xx redirects work now

In February 2016, John Mueller informed in his post “HTTPS Q&A” that there is no PageRank loss using 301 or 302 redirects from HTTP to HTTPS.

# Do I lose “link juice” from the redirects?

No, for 301 or 302 redirects from HTTP to HTTPS no PageRank is lost.

It looks like Google wants to stimulate webmasters to migrate to HTTPs.

At the end of July, Gary Illyes posted the same on Twitter.

On one side, these changes provide really good opportunities, but what does it mean for the actual practice?

On the picture below you can see the comparison of the newly announced rules with the old ones.

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It is important to use redirects and all SEO tools properly and not to try to manipulate the search engines. Yes, it seems you shouldn’t worry about losing PageRank because of using redirects but remember that PageRank is only one of many factors that Google takes into account in order to rank a page.

If you implement 301 redirect which leads to the exact copy of the webpage and only URL addresses are different, in this case, the URL’s value can be lost.

The same result may be achieved if you implement 301 redirect which leads to the irrelevant page. Google is able to analyze this and consider your redirects as incorrect.

There is an opinion that Google can consider 302 (temporary) redirects as 301 (permanent) redirects, and the reason why it happened is that many webmasters have implemented 302s instead of 301s by mistake.  It led to some confusion how Google considers and ranks the page. Now we know that in case of 302 redirects Google also passes PageRank. But nobody knows exactly if 301 and 302 redirects are absolutely identical to Google. 301 redirects transmit link signals and this is absolutely expected. Until quite recently, 302 redirects passed PageRank, but not immediately, and only after a significant period of time. Unfortunately, for now, it is not possible to determine exactly how the 302 redirect is considered.

How the changes affect the migration to HTTPs

Due to the implementation of new rules, it is reasonable to expect that there will be no loss of traffic when the site moves to HTTPs. Again, there is no exact answer. It should be like this. Google wants all the sites to only use HTTPs that is why they promised to give small privileges in ranking to the websites which use this protocol. Because many webmasters preferred not to lose 15% of traffic due to migration, Google made the switch to 301 redirects harmless to PageRank.

But HTTPs migration is not such an easy process from the technical point of view; during this process, a lot of problems may occur and influence the other factors that Google considers in ranking. There is no absolute guarantee that migration will not cause any traffic loss. Perhaps PageRank will not change, but as it was indicated above, it is only one of the various indicators used by Google.

301 and 302 redirects in Magento ® 2

In conclusion, we’d like to remind you that Magento ® 2 allows you to set 301 or 302 redirects easily. For this, you need to open “Marketing” in your Magento ® admin panel and select “URL Rewrites” and then “Add URL Rewrite”.

Magento 2: 301 and 302 redirect

Then select “Custom” from the drop-down menu and choose your default store view from the “Store” field. Enter the necessary URL that will be redirected to the destination URL in the “Request Path” field. In the “Target Path,” the Targeted URL should be determined. On the final step, identify the necessary type of redirection (301 or 302).

Magento 2: 301 and 302 redirect settings

Since you are familiar with the changes in Google’s policy concerning redirects, you can implement them more efficiently. When more precise information is available, we will publish a review of it on our blog.

The sources that were used to prepare the article: source 1, source 2