Sometimes, you may find yourself in a situation where you want to redirect your domain to another URL. It could be that your web domain has changed, or that you’ve bought some extra domains that users frequently mistake for yours, so you can redirect them to the correct place.
A redirect works in a very simple way — when a page with a redirect code is loaded, the browser is simply pushed to the redirect page.
There are two main kinds of redirects: 301 (permanent) and 302 (temporary). They function exactly the same as far as a user is concerned, but there’s actually different stuff going on behind the scenes, and there are different consequences of using them.
301 redirects indicate that the page has permanently moved to a new location. Keep in mind that people can keep going to the old site long after you’ve moved. The best practice is to keep 301 redirects around for at least a year, and even then, check to see if you’re still getting consistent traffic and if you are, see if you can address that before you ever shut down the old site.
302 redirects are only temporary. If you think about it, there are actually not many reasons to use a temporary redirect, unless there’s something seasonal or maintenance-related going on.
There’s also a difference in what happens behind the scenes with the two different redirects. A 301 redirect causes Google to de-index the old page and move the page’s value to the new page you’re redirecting to. A 302 redirect does not lead to the same kind of equity transfer, because Google knows that the original page will be coming back.
Some people are afraid that a 301 redirect will hurt their search rankings, and so, they use a 302 redirect as a permanent solution. Our advice would be to avoid this, because it breaks with convention, and our experience has been that it’s not good to confuse search engines by going against accepted practices. The very thing you’re trying to avoid — taking a hit to your search rankings — could actually happen due to your improper use of the 302 redirect.
At CanSpace Solutions, we try to make redirects as easy as possible. Redirects can be accomplished both via our hosting plans using cPanel, and with our “Domain Forwarding” tool if clients only have a domain and no hosting plan.
In addition, if you’re running WordPress on your site and want to set up the redirects directly through your WordPress admin panel, there are some great plugins that allow you to do just that: SEO Redirection, Redirection, and Simple 301 Redirects.