You may have seen the recent article on Search Engine Land regarding 30x redirects and PageRank. If not, don’t worry – you can find it here.
Essentially, the article summarises the confirmation by Google engineer Gary Illyes that a 30x redirect will no longer result in a dilution of PageRank. This is a source of contention as many in the SEO community have debated this for many years.
So what are these redirects?
30x redirects enable websites to bypass broken links by redirecting search engines and users to another page containing the content they are looking for. Ensuring that redirects work properly is important both in terms of a solid user experience and SEO, which is negatively affected by broken links with no redirects.
Historically, 302 redirects haven’t had the same amount of weight as 301s, as far as search engines are concerned. This is because 302s have always been intended to be temporary as opposed to 301s, which are permanent. Now that Illyes has confirmed that PageRank is no longer affected by 30x redirects, though, many may be thinking that it doesn’t matter which redirect they use.
This could be problematic – regardless of the PageRank factor, 301s and 302s still have a different message and purpose. It’s easy to forget that we deal with many search engines – not just Google, but Yahoo, Bing and a host of up-and-coming names that won’t have their effectiveness and algorithms dictated by Google.
If in doubt, follow best practice
It’s important that we continue to differentiate between the two types of redirect. For best practice, a 301 should always be first choice. Put it this way: Ferraris and Fiats both use the same fuel, but they’re not the same car, so why would you expect them to run in the same way?
A good rule of thumb is to imagine a status code as if you were talking to a person, not a machine. A response code of “200” is “yep, we’ve found that page”, while 404 becomes “sorry, we couldn’t find what you were looking for”. This shows the clear difference between a 301 and 302 status code. One says, “the page you’re looking for has moved somewhere else, and it will always be there from now on”. The other says, “the page you’re looking for has moved somewhere else, but it may be moved back in the future – so watch this space”.
It is much more important to send a status code that gives the right message to everyone than to worry about a single Google-specific ranking factor.
Ultimately, while it is good news that PageRank is no longer affected by redirects, 301s are still the safest and most robust way to perform one.
What do you think about the PageRank redirect development? Let us know via Twitter: we’re @RocketMill.