What Is A 302?

When working online and updating your business’s website there are a range of error messages and HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) status codes that you may encounter, a 302 status code is one of many but probably the most frequently experienced.

HTTP status codes show the relationship between everything happening in the background when you crawl from webpage to webpage.

what is a 302

This relationship could be shown between a number of different things, including the web browser, or user agent, the server, whatever webpage it is you are trying to load, and if you have any third-party web applications running these could also be included.

As these things interact with each other differently there are a huge number of different HTTP status codes you may experience.

These codes will identify and diagnose any potential blockers that are stopping a resource from loading, and also give information on what went wrong on the journey from one webpage to another.

Here we look at what an HTTP 302 status code is, when you may encounter it, whether it is something to worry about, and more.

What Is A 302?

A 302 is one of many different HTTP status codes.

This specific status is however a redirection message and it is triggered when a page or a resource you are trying to open and load has been moved to a temporary location that is different from the page you are trying to access. 

A 302 in most cases is caused by a web server and the user’s experience is not impacted as the redirect to the page’s temporary location occurs automatically, meaning the user is not left in limbo on an empty webpage.

With HTTP status codes all of these that begin with 3 and are followed by two more numbers are almost always a redirection message.

Temporary redirections, as we spoke about above, would trigger a 302 status code but a permanent redirect would be flagged by a 301 status code. 

Most 302 redirects occur when redirecting a visitor to a version of a website that is based in your country.

For example, if you are trying to shop online and you go onto an Australian page but you are based in the United States you will be redirected to the site for users in the United States.

This ensures that you can shop in your local currency, have access to products that you can buy and bring into your country, and all other content is optimized for users in the United States.

When You May Encounter A 302?

There are other instances, other than what has already been highlighted above, when a 302 status code may be triggered, these include: 

  • A web page is being redesigned: in this instance, users will be directed to a page’s temporary location while the webpage is under construction or being redesigned.
  • Products are sold out: users may be redirected to another related page to a sold-out product to avoid loss of sales until stocks are replenished.
  • When running a promotion: if you want to drive user traffic to a certain webpage some companies create a temporary redirect for a page that may usually have other content.
  • Tests are being conducted: It is important to check that websites continue to operate efficiently and so sometimes an A/B test will be conducted.

This allows website owners to test a new webpage while also getting performance feedback. Contrary to popular belief this will not impact your ranking on SERPs.

While there are only a few instances when a 302 status code may be used the easiest way to remember it is that you only ever use a 302 when a web page’s redirect is temporary. This will help to prevent any confusion. 

Is A 302 Something To Worry About?

A 302 is nothing to be concerned about, users on your website will never be noticed by the website users, it happens behind the scenes and so if you have it set up correctly the users shouldn’t even be aware of it. 

Whatever web server that has responsibility for the 302 redirects will highlight the new location immediately and the users will immediately be sent to the temporary page.

How To Identify And Implement A 302 

If you are curious and want to see whether you have encountered a 302 redirect you will be able to check this by using an extension on your search engine.

Google Chrome has many great tools, such as Redirect Path which highlights to you within your browser any time you encounter a redirect.

Another way to identify an encounter with a 302 redirect is to access your .htaccess file. You can also implement a 302 within this file.

If you don’t feel comfortable using this file you can alternatively utilize a redirect manager plugin on your website management system or use an SEO tool that has a redirect manager within it, such as YOAST SEO Premium.

302 status codes are also a great way of taking control of any temporary changes to your website, whether it is for a promotion or a way of testing new website features.

This can also be implemented into your SEO strategies to better your website’s SERP ranking.

If you do decide to use a redirect status code to your advantage it is important to ensure that you choose the right one that aligns with your long-term strategy.

In business, you can never only look at the short term because everything ultimately will have an effect on the long-term operations of your website and there will always be a trail of past decisions online. 

Final Thoughts

We hope that our jargon-free guide to 302 status code has been informative to you and that you now have a better understanding of this event. Rest assured that a 302 status code is nothing to worry about, as long as it has been set up correctly.

If you need assistance seek it out from a professional to avoid damaging your website and its ranking, as well as any possible user experiences. 

Justin Shaw
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