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Aleksander Furgal Published: 18 May 2023 11 min to read

Mastering SEO Redirects: 301, 302, 307 HTTP Redirects and Apache Directives

In digital marketing, strategic maneuvers like SEO redirects play a significant role in maintaining and improving a website’s visibility.

Both permanent and temporary redirects are common tactics in the SEO toolbox. Yet, despite their common use, there is often confusion about how to use redirects properly, their implications for SEO, and their potential impact on user experience.

This article will delve into the world of SEO redirects, dissecting the various types, their use cases, and how they can benefit or impact your site’s SEO. We’ll look at real-life scenarios, helping you understand how to use these techniques effectively.

Whether you’re moving domains, merging websites, switching to HTTPS, running promotions, or deleting pages, this guide will equip you with the knowledge to confidently make decisions about redirects, ensuring your website remains user-friendly while you go through your technical SEO checklist.

What is a redirect?

A redirect is a method used in website management that instantly takes a user from one URL to another. It’s akin to changing addresses and leaving a note for the postman, instructing them to deliver your mail to the new location. Redirects are crucial for maintaining the integrity of your website, ensuring that users and search engines are directed to the right place, even if a page’s URL has changed.

Redirects, then, play a crucial role in improving website traffic, user experience, and search engine visibility. Understanding how redirects work and when to implement them is essential for any CTO aiming to optimize their website’s performance.


Why should you use redirects?

Redirects are not just a tool of convenience; they are an integral part of maintaining a healthy, user-friendly website. They serve to keep website navigation smooth and intuitive, preserve SEO rankings, and prevent 404 errors when a page is removed or when its URL has changed. Properly using redirects can also maintain your website’s link equity, preserving valuable backlinks when restructuring your website.

# To improve the user experience

Redirects significantly enhance user experience. When a user clicks on a link expecting specific content, encountering a 404 error page can be frustrating and may lead to a quick exit. By redirecting, you ensure that users land on an active page, keeping them engaged and reducing the bounce rate. You can also implement redirects to guide your users to updated content or a newer page version.


# To help search engines understand your site

Search engines use crawlers to index and understand your website. When you delete a page or change its URL without implementing a redirect, these crawlers encounter a dead end, which can negatively impact your website’s SEO. Redirects signal to search engines that the page has moved, helping them understand the new structure of your site and index it accordingly.

When guiding our clients through the intricate maze of SEO, we place a strong emphasis on the significance of managing redirects. It’s more than just an SEO practice; it’s about orchestrating a user journey that both Google and your audience will appreciate. The equation is simple: clear navigation plus retained traffic equals a strong online presence. Paul Jackowski CEO, ASPER BROTHERS Let's Talk


When to use redirects?

Understanding when to use redirects is crucial for managing your website effectively. Some common scenarios that require redirects include moving domains, merging entire websites, switching to HTTPS, running a promotion, and deleting pages. In each of these cases, redirects can prevent traffic loss and preserve the original URL’s SEO value.

  • When moving domains. When you change your website’s domain, setting up redirects from your old URLs to the new ones is essential. Without them, users and search engines attempting to access your old URLs would be met with 404 errors, leading to a poor user experience and potentially damaging your SEO rankings.
  • When merging websites. If you decide to merge two websites into one, redirects can help retain the SEO value of the pages on the site that’s being absorbed. By redirecting the old URLs to the corresponding pages on the new site, you ensure that any existing backlinks to the old site continue to pass SEO value to the new one.
  • When switching to HTTPS. Switching from HTTP to HTTPS is critical to ensuring your website’s security. However, such transition requires setting up redirects from the HTTP versions of your pages to the HTTPS versions. This practice prevents users from accessing unsecured versions of your pages and helps maintain your SEO rankings.
  • When running a promotion. If you’re running a promotion or special event on a separate page, redirecting can ensure that users find it. Once the special offer ends, you can remove the redirect, bringing the original content back to your users.
  • When deleting pages. Whenever you delete a page from your website, it’s best practice to set up a redirect to a relevant page. This can help retain any SEO value the deleted page had and prevent users from encountering a frustrating 404 error.


3 types of redirects

There are three types of redirects, each with its specific use case. These include meta refresh redirects, JavaScript redirects, and HTTP redirects. Understanding the differences between them can help you choose the right redirect for your specific situation.

#1 Meta refresh redirects

Meta refresh redirects are redirects that are implemented on the page level rather than the server level. They are often used to refresh the current page automatically after a certain amount of time. However, they are not recommended for most cases as they can be confusing to users and are not consistently recognized by search engines.


#2 JavaScript redirects

JavaScript redirects, as the name suggests, use JavaScript to redirect the user to a new URL. While they can be helpful in some instances, they have significant downsides. Not all users have JavaScript enabled, and not all search engines can follow JavaScript redirects, which can lead to SEO issues.


#3 HTTP redirects

HTTP redirects are the most common and reliable type of redirect. They are implemented on the server level and are universally recognized by both users’ browsers and search engines. There are several types of HTTP redirects, including 301 (permanent), 302 (temporary), and others, each of which sends a different signal to search engines.


What is an HTTP response status code?

HTTP response status codes are three-digit numbers that a server sends to a client (usually a web browser) in response to a request for a web page. These codes provide information about the status of the request, such as whether it was successful, whether the requested page has moved, or whether there was a server error. Understanding these codes can help diagnose problems with a website and improve its performance.


3xx series of status codes

The 3xx series of HTTP status codes is crucial to managing your website’s SEO. They generally indicate redirection, meaning the requested URL has been assigned a new URI. Redirects are not just about moving a webpage; they affect search engine rankings and user experience.  Understanding and adequately implementing them can help you avoid pitfalls.

# 301: Moved Permanently

The 301 status code, “Moved Permanently,” is arguably the most commonly used redirect. This code informs the client that the requested URL has been permanently moved to another location. For instance, if you’ve migrated your website to a new domain, you’d use 301 redirects to point users and search engines to the new location. Notably, 301 redirects also transfer about 90-99% of link equity (ranking power) to the redirected page, according to a Google statement.


# 302: Found

The 302 status code, now officially known as “Found,” is used for temporary redirection. This means the requested URL still exists, and the client should continue to use it for future requests. However, it’s crucial to note that, unlike 301, the 302 redirect does not pass the link equity to the new URL. For example, if you’re conducting A/B testing or temporarily relocating a webpage due to maintenance, a 302 redirect is the optimal choice.


# 303: See Other

A less common but nevertheless useful type of redirect is the 303, known as “See Other.” It is used to prevent the resubmission of form data when a webpage gets refreshed. Upon receiving a 303 status code, the browser is supposed to use a GET method to retrieve the requested URL, irrespective of the method used in the original request. Using 303 redirects can be beneficial in e-commerce scenarios, where accidental double submissions of purchase orders can occur.


# 307: Temporary Redirect

The 307 status code, “Temporary Redirect,” is similar to 302 but with a key difference: it guarantees that the method and the body will not be changed when the redirected request is made. That means that if the original request was POST, the redirected request would also be POST. Temporary redirects are particularly important for applications that need exact HTTP methods and payload, such as APIs.


# 308: Permanent Redirect

The 308 status code, or “Permanent Redirect,” is a newer addition to the HTTP status codes and works similarly to a 301 redirect but with the same strict method preservation as a 307. Despite being relatively obscure, it could be applied in specific scenarios where permanent redirection with strict method preservation is required.


# 302 vs. 307

A commonly asked question is about the difference between a 302 and 307 redirect. While both indicate temporary redirection, the 307 status ensures that the HTTP method and the body will remain unchanged in the redirected request. According to HTTP specifications, a 302 could change the method from POST to GET, which is unsuitable for applications that require data integrity. Therefore, choosing between the two depends on your specific needs.


How to create redirect directives in Apache? .htaccess examples

Understanding how to create redirect directives in Apache through .htaccess files is vital. These files provide a way to make configuration changes on a per-directory basis and are an integral part of managing SEO redirects. According to a Netcraft survey, in April 2023, Apache powered as many as 21.8% of all domains online, clearly demonstrating the importance of mastering .htaccess files.

# Creating a redirect for a single URL

To create a redirect for a single URL, you can use the mod_rewrite module in Apache’s .htaccess file. Here’s an example of redirecting a single URL to a new destination:

RewriteEngine On

RewriteRule ^old-url$ /new-url [R=301,L]

In this example, any request to old-url will be redirected to /new-url with a 301 (Moved Permanently) status code. The [R=301,L] flags specify the redirect type and indicate that this is the last rule to be processed.


# Redirect from “www” in URL to no-www address

If you want to redirect from a www version of your URL to a non-www version (or vice versa), you can use a RewriteCond and RewriteRule. For instance:

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^www.example.com [NC]

RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://example.com/$1 [L,R=301]

would redirect all www requests to the non-www version. Doing this provides consistency, which is crucial for SEO.


# Redirecting all except

To redirect all requests except those to a specific directory, you can use a RewriteCond with a negation pattern. For example:

RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} !^/excluded/

RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://newsite.com/$1 [R=301,L]

would redirect all requests to newsite.com, except those in your excluded directory. This practice can be useful when migrating a site while keeping some sections intact.


# Changing the directory

To change the directory of a URL, use the RedirectMatch directive. For instance:

RedirectMatch 301 ^/old-directory/(.*) /new-directory/$1

would redirect all requests from the old directory to the new one. This is particularly useful when restructuring your website or changing your content management system (CMS).

To redirect an entire directory to a new location, you can use a similar approach:

RewriteEngine On

RewriteRule ^old-directory/(.*)$ /new-directory/$1 [R=301,L]

In this example, any request to old-directory followed by any characters will be redirected to /new-directory/ followed by the same characters. The (.*) captures any characters that come after old-directory and appends them to the new URL using the $1 backreference. Again, the [R=301,L] flags specify a 301 redirect and indicate the last rule.


# Removing specific words from URLs

Removing specific words from URLs can be done with the RewriteRule directive. For example:

RewriteRule ^(.)word-to-remove(.)$ /$1$2 [R=301,L]

would remove word-to-remove from all URLs. Removing specific words could be required in various scenarios, such as changing product names or updating URL naming conventions.


# Redirecting HTTP to HTTPS

In the era of secure web browsing, redirecting HTTP to HTTPS is a common practice. To implement this, use the RewriteEngine with a condition that checks if HTTPS is off. If so, a rule should be applied to redirect all traffic to the HTTPS version of the site. For instance:

RewriteCond %{HTTPS} off RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://%{HTTP_HOST}%{REQUEST_URI} [L,R=301]


# Redirecting from an old domain to a new one

When moving a site to a new domain, you must redirect all requests to the new site. In your .htaccess file on the old domain, use Redirect 301 / http://newsite.com/ to ensure that users and search engines are directed to the correct place, preserving your SEO efforts.

To redirect an entire domain to a new one, you can use the following directive:

RewriteEngine On

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^old-domain\.com$ [NC]

RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://new-domain.com/$1 [R=301,L]

In this example, any request to old-domain.com will be redirected to http://new-domain.com/, preserving the requested path ($1). The [NC] flag makes the condition case-insensitive.


8 best practices of URL redirecting

Redirecting URLs is a powerful tool, but you must do it wisely. Best practices are not just about technical implementation but also about ensuring a good user experience and maintaining SEO value. Missteps can result in broken links, lost traffic, and search engine penalties, so it’s essential to approach URL redirection carefully.

#1 Plan your redirects carefully

Before implementing redirects, planning and strategizing your redirection strategy is crucial. Identify the URLs you need to redirect, determine the appropriate redirect type, and map the redirection paths. This planning stage will help you avoid errors, minimize disruptions, and ensure a seamless user experience.


#2 Don’t redirect all 404 broken URLs to the homepage

While it might be tempting to redirect all 404 errors to your homepage, it’s not the best practice. It can confuse users who expect to see a specific page and suddenly find themselves on the homepage. Instead, redirect broken URLs to their most relevant existing pages, or better yet, fix your 404 errors and avoid them in the first place. After all, reducing the number of redirects is also important for website speed optimization.


#3 Avoid meta refreshes

Meta refreshes are redirects that happen on the page level rather than at the server level. However, they are not recommended for SEO as they are slower and can lead to poor user experience. If necessary, you should implement them with a delay of at least 5 seconds and a clear message indicating the upcoming redirect.


#4 Avoid redirect chains

Redirect chains, where one redirected URL leads to another redirected URL, should be avoided. They slow down the site, create a poor user experience, and weaken the transfer of link equity. If a page has moved multiple times, always redirect from the original URL to the final URL. They also negatively affect the crawl budget.


#5 Avoid redirect loops

Redirect loops, where a URL redirects back to itself, can trap users and search engine bots, preventing them from accessing your content. These can be caused by mistakes in redirect rules and can be avoided by carefully planning your redirects and regularly auditing your website for errors.


#6 Redirect deleted pages to relevant working alternatives

When a page gets deleted, it’s best to redirect it to a relevant live page. Redirecting to a page with similar content preserves the user experience and retains more SEO value than redirecting to a generic page or leaving the user with a 404 error.


#7 Use HSTS (to create 307 redirects)

HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) is a security policy that forces browsers to only use secure (HTTPS) connections. When HSTS is enabled, browsers automatically change insecure (HTTP) requests into secure ones, effectively creating a 307 redirect. HSTS not only improves security but also reduces the need for individual HTTP to HTTPS redirects.


#8 Monitor and test your redirects

Once redirects are in place, it’s crucial to monitor their effectiveness and test them periodically. Regularly check for any errors, unexpected behaviors, or broken links. Monitor website analytics to ensure your traffic gets correctly redirected, and track any changes in search engine rankings or organic traffic.



Mastering SEO redirects is a valuable skill for CTOs aiming to optimize their website’s performance and user experience. By understanding the importance of redirects, the different redirect types, and best practices for their implementation, you can effectively manage website reorganizations, domain migrations, and other scenarios that require their usage.

Strategic implementation of redirects not only enhances user satisfaction but also helps search engines understand your website, leading to improved organic search visibility and increased website traffic.

So stay proactive, plan carefully, and regularly review your redirects to ensure your website remains search-engine optimized and, most importantly, always user-friendly.



Call to action
Redirects might seem like a complicated piece of the SEO puzzle, but you don’t have to tackle them alone. Reach out today – we have the expertise to ensure your site runs smoothly and continues to rank well. Let’s navigate this together.

Aleksander Furgal

Content Specialist



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