If you’ve spent any time on the internet, chances are you’ve encountered an HTTP status code.
Simply put, HTTP status codes are standard response codes that show the relationship between everything that is happening in the background as you move from one web page to another. Things like the user agent (that is, your web browser), the server, the web page you are trying to load, and any third-party web applications you are running.
Due to the complexity of how all of these interact, there are many possible HTTP status codes that you can run into.
HTTP status codes identify and diagnose the particular blocker that is preventing you from loading a resource and can give you information about the path you have taken down the path to a page.
In this article, we’ll cover what you need to know about HTTP status code 302 – jargon-free.
What is HTTP 302?
Status code 302 is a redirect message that occurs when a resource or page that you are trying to load has been temporarily moved to another location. This is usually caused by the web server and has no impact on the user experience, as the redirect happens automatically.
For starters, it helps to know that all HTTP messages with 3xx are redirect messages.
Let’s say blog.hubspot.com no longer exists and the content is now permanently hosted on blogging.hubspot.com. This would trigger a 301 status code, which indicates a permanent redirect from one location to another.
The 302 redirect, on the other hand, is only temporary. A good example of using a 302 status code is for localization and language purposes.
For example, if you are visiting a UK based clothing website but located in the US. A 302 redirect would send you to the US version of the site to make sure the currency and other content is displayed correctly, based on your location.
You can also use a 302 status code when:
- Redesign of a page – You can send users to a temporary location while the other page is under construction.
- Performing A / B tests – Want to test a new page and get feedback on its performance? You can do this with a 302 redirect without harming your rank.
- Start a promotion – To drive traffic to a particular offer, you can set up a temporary redirect for a page that usually includes other content.
- A product is sold out – In the case of a sold out or temporarily unavailable product, you can redirect users to an associated page until it is available again.
While this list is not exhaustive, here is the golden rule to keep in mind: only use a 302 redirect if the change is temporary.
Additionally, a 302 status code occurs on the server side and should not be noticed by users if configured correctly. The web server serving the 302 redirect will immediately show the new location of the page to your browser (and search engines) and should send users there immediately.
How a 302 status code affects SEO
From an SEO perspective, it’s important to understand how a 302 status code can impact your rankings and when you should use it.
First, if the location of a page has changed and a redirect has not been set up, it can cause a 404 status error (i.e. your page cannot be found) and affect your ranking. . After all, Google won’t want to send users to a page that leads nowhere.
One advantage of using a redirect like this is that you don’t have to sacrifice your ranking when temporarily sending users elsewhere.
Suppose you use it to redirect users from a depleted product page to a relevant product page. You wouldn’t want your unavailable product page to drop in the rankings just because it’s currently unavailable. With a 302 status code, you can maintain your ranking.
However, it also means that your temporary URL won’t get any link juice because Google knows it won’t be there for long.
For comparison, a 301 code usually sends most links to your new URL, but your page may experience a drop in rank due to the redirect.
How to identify and implement an HTTP 302 error
If you want to know when you’ve encountered a 302 redirect (or any other type of redirect), consider using a Chrome app or extension (like this one, Redirect path). This type of tool will show you directly in your browser when you encounter a redirect.
You can also view and implement the code from the backend by going to your .htaccess file. To avoid accessing this file, you can also install a redirect manager plugin or an SEO tool that includes a redirect manager (like Yoast SEO Premium).
Overall, you want to make sure you understand how redirect messages affect SEO. A 302 status code can be a great strategy when making temporary changes to your website, such as testing new website features and product promotions.
So when you are debating between different redirect messages, make sure that the one you choose matches your long term strategy.