How Do 302 Redirects Work?


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What is 302 Redirect? And When Should You (Actually) Use It?

A 302 redirect is a temporary way to redirect users from one page on your site to a different page.

It is important for SEO because it allows you to send traffic to a different page while maintaining the keyword ranking and link value of the original page.

In this guide we will explain when, why and how to use 302s correctly.

How Do 302 Redirects Work?

A 302 redirect is kind of like an out of office message.

It is not a permanent change of address. However, it helps ensure that users and bots can still access your site when a particular page or resource is unavailable.

302 can improve the user experience (UX) on your website by ensuring users are not redirected to pages that are outdated, missing functionality, or under construction.

This HTTP response status code (302 – Found) indicates that a page has been moved. Anyone trying to access this page will be automatically redirected to the new page with 302 enabled.

301 Redirects and 302 Redirects

Should you use 301 or 302 redirects? This is a common question.

Here is the difference:

A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect.

A 302 redirect is a temporary redirect.

Implement a 301 redirect to make permanent changes to your website. For example, if you permanently move the content from example.com/page-1 to example.com/page-2.

You want to tell users and search engine bots that your old page no longer exists and that they can find the content at a new address.

Otherwise, for temporary use cases a 302 redirect works.

For example, you use 302 for things like A/B testing, temporary sales pages, or website maintenance.

We’ll cover more examples of when to use 302 below.

302 and 301 for SEO

From an SEO perspective, 301 redirects are useful for aggregating and maintaining “link equity” or “link juice” as it is sometimes called. 301 asks search engines to treat backlinks that point to the old page as if they now point to the new page.

Therefore, it is a best practice to use 301 redirects to resolve SEO issues such as merging duplicate content or making permanent URL changes.

But using 302 instead is usually not a disaster.

According to Google Search Attorney John Mueller, Google treats both types of redirects almost the same. They use other signals to determine whether the original URL or the new URL should be canonical.

If it becomes clear that the “temporary guidance” is meant to be permanent, they can usually recognize this over time and act accordingly.

When Should 302 Redirects Be Used?

What is the most important word when it comes to 302 redirects?

Temporary.

If you’re not sure whether 302 is the right choice, ask yourself whether you’re implementing a temporary change or a permanent change.

There is no definitive period of time that constitutes “temporary.” However, Google recommends using a permanent redirect “when you are sure the redirect will not be reversed.”

This means you should probably use 302 in any other situation.

For example:

Website Maintenance or Redesign

You’re working on a big update to your page at www.example.com/my-page and you don’t want anyone to see it before it’s ready.

Use 302 redirects to send visitors elsewhere while under construction.

A/B Testing

You are testing a new version of a landing page to see if it performs better than the existing page.

You’ll want to send a certain percentage of your traffic from your current page (example.com/page-1) to the test version (example.com/page-2).

Use a 302 redirect as this is a temporary experiment and the page has not been moved permanently.

Temporary Promotional Pages

You’re running a limited-time sale and creating a special page just for that purpose.

When someone clicks on “Shoes,” you want to send them to your new custom promotion page (example.com/shoe-sale) while the sale is running.

Repeat: Provisional = 302.

(Make sure to remove the redirect once the sale ends.)

Live Test

You’re creating a new website flow where users will take a different path to find information or take an action. You want to test the new stream on the live website before it is permanently available.

Use 302 to send traffic from example.com/page to example.com/page-test and get feedback or temporarily collect data.

Then, permanently redirect or replace the content of the page when you’re ready to deploy this update.

How to Implement a 302 Redirect?

If you’ve read these scenarios and decided that 302 is the right call, it’s time to implement it correctly.

Be sure to follow the instructions closely

Be careful and only make changes that you are sure can fix it if something goes wrong!

WordPress

Implementing 302 WordPress redirects is easy with the right plugin. But even without the plugin you can apply them directly, with the right information.

Yoast SEO Premium Plugin

Yoast SEO redirect manager allows you to quickly add or remove 302 redirects. You will need a Yoast Premium subscription.

From the WordPress sidebar:

“Yoast SEO” > “Redirects.”

Then fill in the fields:

Type = 302

Old URL = URL of the original page without the root domain (e.g. “/page-1”)

URL = The non-root domain URL of the new page (e.g. “/page-2”)

Click “Add Redirect.”

Redirection Plugin

Redirect is an extremely popular WordPress plugin that makes it easy to implement or remove 302s.

From the WordPress sidebar:

“Tools” > “Routing.”

On the “Redirects” page, find the “Add new redirect” form.

Fill in the fields:

Source URL = URL of the original page without the root domain (e.g. “/page-1”)

Destination URL = The non-root domain URL of the new page (e.g. “/page-2”)

HTTP code = 302

Then click “Add Redirect.”

Rank Math Plugin

Rank Math is another popular SEO plugin that makes 302 implementation easy.

From the WordPress sidebar:

“Ranking Math” > “Referrals”.

On the “Redirects” page, click “Add New.”

Source URLs = Non-root URL of the original page (e.g. “/page-1”)

Destination URL = The non-root domain URL of the new page (e.g. “/page-2”)

Redirect Type = 302 Temporary Transport

Then click “Add Redirect.”

PHP Redirects

Warning: This option will require you to edit your theme files and PHP code. Recommended only for advanced WordPress users who are comfortable making these types of edits.

If you don’t want to add one of these plugins, you can apply the redirect manually.

It is possible to implement 302 redirect on the server side (see Apache, Nginx and Windows Server options below) or directly in the PHP header.

You add code like this at the top of your PHP header before any HTML or echo functions:

<?php
// Check if the requested page is page 1
if ($_SERVER[‘REQUEST_URI’] === ‘/page-1’) {
//Redirect from example.com/page-1 to example.com/page-2
title(“HTTP/1.1 302 Found”);
title(“Location: http://example.com/page-2”);
exit;
}
?>

In this example, we are redirecting from example.com/page-1 to example.com/page-2.

As you can probably guess, implementing or maintaining more than a few of these specific redirects in PHP can be a bit complicated. But it can be done.

Apache

Warning: This 302 redirect method is for experts only. Mistakes here can cause big problems for your website. If you are not an expert, proceed with extreme caution or consult an expert who can help.

If your website is hosted on an Apache server, you can apply redirects by editing the .htaccess file in your WordPress root directory.

First make sure mod_rewrite is enabled. Then use RewriteEngine to configure your redirects.

Redirect a Single Page

If you only need to redirect one page to a new page you can write code like this:

Rewrite Engine On
RewriteRule ^page-1$ /page-2 [R=302,L]

This will redirect a page to /page-2 that exactly matches the URL /page-1.

It’s worth noting that you can also use mod_alias for simplified redirects:

Redirect 302 /page-1 /page-2

Redirecting an Entire Directory

If you want to temporarily redirect an entire directory, you can do this by redirecting each page to a specific new URL in the new directory:

Rewrite Engine On
RewriteRule ^old-directory/(.*)$ /new-directory/$1 [R=302,L]

For example, this code redirects /old-directory/page-1 to /new-directory/page-1.

Or you can redirect all pages in that directory to a single new page:

Rewrite Engine On
RewriteRule ^old directory/(.*)$ /new page [R=302,L]

This RewriteRule will redirect both /old-directory/page-1 and /old-directory/page-2 to the new URL, /new page.

nginx

Warning: This 302 redirect method is for experts only. Mistakes here can cause big problems for your website. If you are not an expert, proceed with extreme caution or consult an expert who can help.

Nginx redirects are configured in the .conf file, usually located in the root directory of your server.

Redirect a Single Page
presenter {
listen 80;
server_name example.com;
location /page-1 {
rewrite ^ /page-2 redirect;
}
# other location blocks and configuration…
}

This will redirect /page-1 to /page-2.

Redirecting an Entire Directory

Redirect all pages from one directory to a new page in a new directory.

presenter {
listen 80;
server_name example.com;
location ~* ^/old-di

zin/{
rewrite ^/old-directory/(.*)$ /new-directory/$1 redirect;
}
# other location blocks and configuration…
}

For example, /old-directory/page-1 redirects to /new-directory/page-1, and /old-directory/page-2 redirects to /new-directory/page-2.

Redirect all pages from a directory to a single new location:

presenter {
listen 80;
server_name example.com;
location ~* ^/old-directory/ {
rewrite ^/old-directory/(.*)$ /newpage redirect;
}
# other location blocks and configuration…
}

For example, both /old-directory/page-1 and /old-directory/page-2 redirect to the new URL, /new-page.

Windows Server with ASP.NET

Warning: This 302 redirect method is for experts only. Mistakes here can lead to major pro

problems for your website. If you are not an expert, proceed with extreme caution or consult an expert who can help.

On a Windows server, redirects are configured in the web.config file.

Redirect a Single Page
<configuration>
<system.webServer>
<rewrite>
<rules>
<rule name=”Redirect page-1 to page-2″ stopProcessing=”true”>
<match url=”^page-1$” />
<action type=”Redirect” url=”/page-2″ redirectType=”Found” />
</rule>
</rules>
</rewrite>
</system.webServer>
</config>

This will redirect /page-1 to /page-2.

Redirecting an Entire Directory

Redirect all pages from one directory to a new page in a new directory.

<configuration>
<system.webServer>
<rewrite>
<rules>
<rule name=”Redirect old directory to new directory” stopProcessing=”true”>
<match url=”^old-directory/(.*)” />
<action type=”Redirect” url=”/new-directory/{R:1}” redirectType=”Found” />
</rule>
</rules>
</rewrite>
</system.webServer>
</config>

For example, /old-directory/page-1 redirects to /new-directory/page-1, and /old-directory/page-2 redirects to /new-directory/page-2.

Redirect all pages from a directory to a single new location:

<configuration>
<system.webServer>
<rewrite>
<rules>
<rule name=”Redirect old directory to new page” stopProcessing=”true”>
<match url=”^old-directory/(.*)” />
<action type=”Redirect” url=”/new-page” redirectType=”Found” />
</rule>
</rules>
</rewrite>
</system.webServer>
</config>

For example, both /old-directory/page-1 and /old-directory/page-2 redirect to the new URL, /new-page.

Impact of 302 Redirects on SEO
Positive SEO Effects

Keep in mind that 302 redirects are not intended to fix or improve technical SEO issues your website is experiencing.

302 redirects aim to improve user experience in temporary situations.

Unlike 301, temporary redirects are not considered best practice for:

Merging duplicate content
Fix canonical URL problems
Redirect www to non-www versions of the same page
Editing your site’s architecture

But implementing 302 can protect your links and rankings when a web page is temporarily unavailable or under maintenance. Without using 302, your page may be indexed due to usability issues or missing content, which can harm your SEO.

However, it can have negative effects if applied incorrectly.

Negative SEO Effects

In theory, using 302s incorrectly can create problems for your website’s SEO.

For example, it may cause the wrong version of a page to be indexed and appear in SERPs (search engine results pages).

In reality?

Adverse effects will likely be minor and temporary.

Google treats 302 redirects as “a weak signal that the redirect destination should be canonical.”

To put it simply: When there is a 302, Google usually shows the original URL instead of the new URL in the SERPs.

This is what you expect from a 302.

However, if there are other signals that indicate that the new URL is actually the “main” version of this content (the canonical URL), it can be treated more like a permanent redirect.

In this case, Google shows the new URL instead of the original URL in the SERPs.

So even if 302 is implemented incorrectly, there’s a good chance Google will still fix it.

However, it may still cause a temporary problem with your site, rankings, and traffic.

It’s also a best practice to use the correct redirect type whenever possible.

5 Common Problems with 302 Redirects
1: Using 302 for Permanent Changes

Perhaps the most common mistake is using 302 for a permanent change.

As we discussed, 302s are supposed to be temporary.

If you are using 302 to redirect a page and the change becomes permanent, it is best practice to update the redirect to 301.

You can easily identify pages with 302s using Semrush’s Site Audit tool.

In the left-hand menu, click “Site Audit” under “On-Page and Technical SEO.”

If your site is not already listed under “Projects”, enter your root domain to have Semrush crawl and audit your website.

After the audit is completed, click on the “Project” name and select “Si

Look for the “Crawled Pages” report under “Telephone Health”.

Click the number shown in the “Redirects” row to open the report of pages returning a referral HTTP status code.

Review the list of redirect URLs and see if any of them return 302.

Pro tip: You can apply an HTTP Status Code filter to this report to see only pages that return a “3xx temporary” status code.

If there are 302 redirects that shouldn’t exist, it probably means they were configured by another member of your team or someone who has worked on the site in the past.

If the redirection is not necessary or is configured incorrectly (for example, if it is a permanent change rather than temporary), you will need to investigate how they are implemented to make adjustments.

See the steps in the “How to Implement a 302 Redirect” section above.

You can start by looking at your WordPress or CMS admin panel. If you can’t find the 302s listed in the report, consider the following:

Talking to someone who can control the server side application.

Note: You also want to avoid using 301 for changes that are only temporary. You can detect these issues using the Site Audit tool we just reviewed. If you accidentally spot a permanently redirected page, remove the 301 and implement a temporary redirect instead.

Find and Fix Routing Problems

With Site Audit Tool

Try It for Free →
2: Redirect Chains

Redirect chains occur when one page has a 302 pointing to another page, which in turn has a 302 pointing to another page.

Like this:

/page-1 has a 302 pointing to /page-2.

/page-2 has a 302 pointing to /page-3.

The user jumps from one page to another. And then the next one. (And then the next one.)

This can cause site performance issues such as slow page loading speeds.

Besides, it’s just bad practice.

Using the Semrush Site Audit tool, you can easily identify redirect chains that you need to fix.

From within Semrush:

Click “Site Audit” under “On-Page and Technical SEO.”

Under “Project,” click your site’s URL. Or enter your domain name to create a project if it’s not listed yet.

(If you create the project from scratch, you will type in your root domain and Semrush will scan and inspect your site. Once the crawl is complete, click on the site’s URL under “Project.”)

From the “Project Control Panel”, click “View full report” under the “Site Audit” section.

Now click on the “Issues” tab:

The “Errors” list will show you any issues Semrush found on your site. In this list you will find an entry for “redirect chains and loops”, if detected.

Click the list item to open the full report.

Once you identify any redirect chains, you can update existing 302 redirects to point to the final destination URL and skip the additional redirect steps.

3: Referral Loops (Too Many Redirects)

If you have a misconfigured redirect, you may encounter a redirect loop.

A redirect loop is when your 302s continue to send users back and forth between two or more pages.

For example:

/page-1 has a 302 pointing to /page-2.

/page-2 has a 302 pointing to /page-1.

The browser doesn’t know which page to show. You will receive an ERR_TOO_MANY_REDIRECTS or “too many redirects” error and in Google Chrome you will see a page that looks like this:

You can identify and fix this issue using the Semrush Site Audit tool.

In the left-hand menu, click “Site Audit” under “On-Page and Technical SEO.”

If your site is not listed on the “Site Audit” page, type your root domain to run a scan and audit.

Once the scan is complete, click the site’s URL under “Project.”

(If your site is already listed under “Project,” click the URL.)

From the “Project Control Panel”, click “View full report” under the “Site Audit” section.

Now click on the “Issues” tab:

The “Errors” list will show you if Semrush detected a redirect chain or loop.

Click the list to see the full list and find redirect loops.

If you have implemented a 302 redirect and are getting this error, there is probably a problem with the configuration.

Here are some things to look for:

Conflicting redirects. Have you accidentally created redirects that try to send users from one page to multiple different pages? Or do you have referrals to each other? Review the instructions closely for situations that might create conflicts.
Conflicting plugins. If you are using a redirect plugin or third-party tool, it is possible that the plugins conflict with each other. Try disabling them one by one and the problem will be solved.

See if it is resolved or not.

If you haven’t implemented redirection and are getting this error, the problem may be local or client-side. This means that the redirect is configured correctly on the server but something on the user side is causing the problem.

To try:

Clear browser cache and cookies. It is possible for a redirect directive to be cached even if it is no longer used. Caching issues can also be caused by a CDN or other network configuration that may require additional troubleshooting.
Disable browser extensions. In some cases, your browser extensions can trigger redirects and break certain pages.
4: Leaving 302 Redirects in Place

Simply put: Don’t forget to remove 302s when they are no longer needed.

Keeping it in place for a long period of time may lead search engines to treat it as a permanent redirect. It can also create a bad user experience.

Do a regular Site Audit with Semrush to make sure you haven’t forgotten to remove redirects after a temporary website change.

5: Losing URL Parameters During Redirect

In some cases, you need a redirect to pass certain URL parameters or tracking codes to your visitors to the new URL you sent them to.

For example, if you use a specific UTM rule to track visitors as they navigate your website. Or if your search and filter function passes specifications via URL parameters.

Depending on

Depending on how you implement redirects, it may or may not pass parameters from the original URL to the new destination.

To fix this you need to adjust the configuration in your redirect plugin and/or use Regular Expressions (RegEx) to parse the parameters from the original URL. Then forward them when the user is redirected.

302 Redirects FAQ
What is the Difference Between a 302 Redirect and a 301 Redirect?

A 302 redirect is for temporary changes to your website, such as a page under construction or A/B testing. 301 redirects are for permanent changes, such as moving content from an old URL to a new URL.

What is the Benefit of 302 Redirect?

The primary use of 302 redirects is to improve your site’s user experience. You can temporarily send users to a new URL to ensure that they are not redirected to outdated, incomplete, or under construction pages. It can also maintain the ranking and link value of the original URL while the redirect continues.

How Can I Set Up 302 Redirects on My Website?

If you use WordPress and most common CMSs, you can implement 302 using a plugin or extension. In other cases, you need to configure routing on the server side.

How Does Google Handle 302 Redirects?

Google treats 302 redirects in much the same way as 301 redirects. However, in cases where this is considered a temporary change, it will continue to show the original URL (not the new URL) in the SERP.

In this case, they won’t forward PageRank or links to the new URL unless it becomes clear that the change is likely permanent.

Can 302 Redirects Hurt My SEO?

Yes. If you use an incorrect 302 redirect, it can negatively impact your search rankings and traffic. For example, it may cause the wrong version of your page to be indexed, causing a drop in rankings and traffic.

If you’re worried that redirects are hurting your rankings or you’re trying to fix redirect issues on your site, the first step is to run an audit.

Use the Semrush Site Audit tool to identify redirect misconfigurations, redirect loops and chains, and hundreds of other issues that may be hindering your site.