What Does Status Code 302 Mean?

Temporary forwarding is a great way to put your URL to work until you get your site up and running. It can also be used to redirect users if your domain location has changed or is temporarily unavailable. The 302 status code is at the heart of temporary redirects.

HTTP Status Codes

Think of HTTP status codes as a server-to-browser communication tool which makes redirections happen when necessary. When you type a URL into a browser, the browser then sends a request to the appropriate server. The server then sends back the requested domain, which displays on your browser. 

When you have URL forwarding enabled, the server needs to know what to send to the browser instead of its original request. A 3xx status code redirect is a set of instructions that does just that. 

The two main types of 3xx redirects are a 301 redirect, which means the URL has moved permanently. The other type which we will focus on in this post is a 302 redirect, which should only be used when the redirect is temporary. 

3xx Status Codes

  • 301 moved permanently 
  • 302 found
  • 304 not modified
  • 305 use proxy
  • 307 temporary redirect

302 Redirect Overview 

As known as 302 found, the 302 redirect is similar to a 301 redirect. However, with a 302 redirect the link equity is not passed over to the new location, and URLs are not replaced in search engine results

Therefore, unlike with a 301 redirect which means the location has moved permanently, you don’t want your users to be sent to a new location forever, just for the meantime.

For example, say your website is being redesigned. While your developers are working on your site, it’s not functional. The old website no longer exists either, because it’s in the middle of being changed. So, to avoid users being shown an error message, you can use a 302 found to display a temporary page instead.

A 302 redirect may also be used to collect data, or when performing A/B testing. Generally speaking, its use is rare because most people redirect with a 301 redirect instead. 

A 302 isn’t intended to be permanent, nor is it a replacement for a fully functioning website or page. It simply acts as a go-between, so that users can access what they need, or at least be informed about the status of a page or a website. 

302 Redirect Vs 307 Redirect

Given a 307 redirect is known as a 307 temporary redirect, it’s easy to get confused. Both are extremely similar with only subtle variations. 

A 302 redirect is intended to be a temporary measure but is slightly vague on why it is being used as a temporary redirect. It is generated by the server and should only be used for HTTP/1.0 clients.

A 307 redirect states that the requested URL will be back shortly. It is an internal redirect response generated by the browser.

Technically, you could use either though for SEO purposes, a 302 redirect is the preferred option. Unless of course, the move is permanent in which case, a 301 redirect would be correct. 

The reference documentation for these redirects can be found in the IETF RFC 7231 document.

To Sum Up

While a 301 redirect is more common, sometimes a 302 redirect is in order, especially when the location you are sending users to is only for a short duration. Take care to ensure you select the right redirect, as a 302 redirect can affect your link equity. 

However, it is still preferred to use a 302 redirect rather than users come across a broken page. 

With any 302 redirect, make sure you keep a short time frame in mind. This will reduce any negative impact on your SEO, especially as users are more likely to bounce off the page if they don’t find what they expected after clicking your result on the SERP.