With this post, let's discuss the much talked about 301 vs 302 vs Meta-refresh tags to understand which one in the most ideal one to use from the Search Engine Optimization point of view and in which situation? First, let's have a look oni this small cartoon I've made for a general idea about redirects, then we will go into details so that the whole information is easy for you to digest :)
301 Redirects 301 redirect is undoubtedly the safest way to redirect a website as all Search Engines treat a '301 redirect' in same way ie. They simply pass all the link value, juice, ranking etc to the redirected page. A 301 redirect tells a search engine that the requested page has permanently been shifted to a different location so search engines simply ignore the original URL and index the destination URL foreg. If we 301 redirect a website that is about watches (let's say - awesome-watches.com) which is ranking for keyword 'wrist watches' to another website – cool-watches.com, the search engines will simply ignore awesome-watches.com and will index and rank cool-watches.com for the keyword 'wrist watches'. 301 redirect is also the most handy tool to handle canonical URLs.
The most common cases when we use 301 redirects are:
If the page is deleted or permanently moved.
You want a new top level domain for your website without damaging your link value and rankings. To serve either of the version of www vs non-www. This is done with a combination of 301 redirect and mod-rewrite.
Content duplication. For example you may 301 redirect www.yoursite.com/index.htm to www.yourwebsite.com
If you have many topically relevant but outdated websites which your are not willing to maintain anymore, you may slowly redirecting the outdated websites to the most current website. But beware, if there are many websites, redirect them one by one slowly as otherwise you might end up getting flagged for being a spammer. Please take a note that At SMX, all the engineers from all the search engines made a statement that 301 redirect will not carry the full effect if the content of the redirecting website is topically not the same. We should avoid redirecting our website to a site which is topically irrelevant to our website. For e.g. if you are planning to redirect (301) your website about cars, then you should not redirect it to a website selling watches. An inappropriate redirect will not lead to any benefit to your website.