Aren’t 301s, 302s, and Canonicals All Basically the Same? – Whiteboard Friday
Posted by Dr-Pete
They say history repeats itself. In the case of the great 301 vs 302 vs rel=canonical debate, it repeats itself about every three months. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Dr. Pete explains how bots and humans experience pages differently depending on which solution you use, why it matters, and how each choice may be treated by Google.
Hey, Moz fans, it’s Dr. Pete, your friendly neighborhood marketing scientist here at Moz, and I want to talk today about an issue that comes up probably about every three months since the beginning of SEO history. It’s a question that looks something like this: Aren’t 301s, 302s, and canonicals all basically the same?
So if you’re busy and you need the short answer, it’s, “No, they’re not.” But you may want the more nuanced approach. This popped up again about a week [month] ago, because John Mueller on the Webmaster Team at Google had posted about redirection for secure sites, and in it someone had said, “Oh, wait, 302s don’t pass PageRank.”
John said, “No. That’s a myth. It’s incorrect that 302s don’t pass PR,” which is a very short answer to a very long, technical question. So SEOs, of course, jumped on that, and it turned into, “301s and 302s are the same, cats are dogs, cakes are pie, up is down.” We all did our freakout that happens four times a year.
So I want to get into why this is a difficult question, why these things are important, why they are different, and why they’re different not just from a technical SEO perspective, but from the intent and why that matters.
I’ve talked to John a little bit. I’m not going to put words in his mouth, but I think 95% of this will be approved, and if you want to ask him, that’s okay afterwards too.
Why is this such a difficult question?
So let’s talk a little bit about classic 301, 302. So a 301 redirect situation is what we call a permanent redirect. What we’re trying to accomplish is something like this. We have an old URL, URL A, and let’s say for example a couple years ago Moz moved our entire site from seomoz.org to moz.com. That was a permanent change, and so we wanted to tell Google two things and all bots and browsers:
- First of all, send the people to the new URL, and, second,
- pass all the signals. All these equity, PR, ranking signals, whatever you want to call them, authority, that should go to the new page as well.
So people and bots should both end up on this new page.
A classic 302 situation is something like a one-day sale. So what we’re saying is for some reason we have this main page with the product. We can’t put the sale information on that page. We need a new …read more
Source:: Moz Blog