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What is a 301 redirect vs a 302 redirect?

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What is a 301 redirect?  How does it differ from a 302 redirect?

A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect. It's like a Change of Address form from the Postal Service. All traffic intended for URL A is permanently routed to URL B, and all link popularity and existing SEO value for URL A should also be transferred to URL B.

A 302 redirect is a temporary redirect. There are very few instances where this type of redirect should be used, but unfortunately it is the easiest to implement. This means that many webmasters unfamiliar with search engine mechanics use the wrong type of redirect.

So where is the problem? If you use a 302 redirect when you should use a 301, search engines have to try and determine which page is the "high value" page. Only one version of the page will likely be listed in search engine results, and you stand a chance of having the wrong page listed. This problem compounds over time as a chain of redirects can sometimes exist on older sites.

Please note, for technical reasons, we are only able to implement a redirect when no CMS is available and when your website is running on a Unix/Apache server.  Should we attempt to modify the necessary file when a CMS is present, there is a risk that your entire site will break. Windows (IIS) servers lack this file completely and require software options changes to which only your hosting provider has access.