When should I use a 301 redirect, a 302 redirect or a canonical tag? Don’t they do the exact same thing?
If you work even remotely close to SEO, you’ve heard these questions in one form or the other multiple times.
- Are 301s, 302s and canonicals the same thing? No.
- When should I use 301 redirects? Whenever you’re permanently moving content to a new domain or URL, have multiple paths to the same page or when merging two sites together.
- When should I use 302 redirects? Rarely. Commonly used whenever an unexpected or limited time event requires redirecting traffic from a URL to a new URL temporarily.
- When should I use Canonical tags? When you have duplicate pages and want to tell a search bot what page you’d prefer they display in results.
While I could spend time reinventing the wheel, Moz put together a fantastic whiteboard post titled “Aren’t 301s, 302s, and Canonicals All Basically the Same?” that covers the long-form answers to this question.