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302 Redirect ... How Long Is Too Long?


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#1 pleeker

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Posted 25 June 2007 - 04:08 PM

Hi all,

If I keep a 302 redirect in place for a long time, will a spider eventually decide that the redirect isn't really temporary anymore, and should be considered permanent?

In other words, is there a time limit on having a 302 redirect in place?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts!

-Matt

#2 Respree

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Posted 25 June 2007 - 06:21 PM

Not sure if the answer to your question, but you may find this article of interest.
http://www.seotoday....d/477/index.php

#3 projectphp

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Posted 25 June 2007 - 10:02 PM

Think of what is requied to make that work, and ask yourself if it is worth the effort for SEs to bother.

You are also asking a question whose answer changes. Don't Believe The Hype, very little changes in SEO (it is more additions than changes0, but redirects are one area that is constantly under flux, for a variety of reasons (mostly the terrible state of most web coding). So an aswer to a question like this has to be "what day is it" more than specific.

Your best bet is to do what is rigth and move on, because doing anything sketchy causes unknown outcomes. Why can't you just change to a 301?, or don't you want to?

#4 pleeker

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Posted 26 June 2007 - 02:24 AM

Thank you both for your thoughts.

A 301 is not an option. It's a retail site, and when a Sub-Category results page only shows one product, they use a 302 to redirect the Sub-Cat page straight to the only product available. It's for user-friendliness -- why make the shopper see a sub-cat page with only one item and have to click again to reach it?

Problem is, due to the nature of the product being sold, the Sub-Cat page might only have one product for a looooong time -- possibly several months.

I'm no server admin/programmer, so I have no idea how difficult it would be for the SEs to track how long a 302 stays in place. But it sounds like you're saying they wouldn't bother...?

#5 Lyle

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Posted 26 June 2007 - 02:42 AM

I do this on a couple of the sites I've done, but I don't send back either a 301 or a 302 - I just redirect the page.

Personally, I thought it was better to not confuse search engines etc. by using a 301/2 redirect on something like that, because (and this may just be my lack of knowledge) if/when you add a new item, you don't want people to just be referring to what the destination page was *before* the new item was added.

I'm finding it hard to word/explain, but with a 301/2 , aren't you kind of saying "We only have one product in this category, so you're always going to go to page [y]", when actually what you're wanting to say is 'This is the category, but we currently only have one product, so I'll send you straight to it'

Otherwise, in the future if someone does a search for [category], they may just come up with that one end product on page [y] , without seeing the other category items.

That's just my 2p worth, though.

#6 eKstreme

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Posted 26 June 2007 - 03:16 AM

I do this on a couple of the sites I've done, but I don't send back either a 301 or a 302 - I just redirect the page.

I think "just a redirect" is a 302. Check the headers your site is sending.

Pierre

#7 Lyle

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Posted 26 June 2007 - 03:52 AM

Pierre,

Thanks - you're right, and I hadn't realised that at all. :duh:

Therefore, please ignore all I said earlier! *grin*

#8 Tim

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Posted 26 June 2007 - 04:03 AM

Is a JavaScript redirect (using location.replace) an option here? That way the SE's are still indexing both the category page and the product page, but the user friendly goal is obtained.

#9 eKstreme

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Posted 26 June 2007 - 05:08 AM

Lyle: you're welcome :)

Matt: sorry I forgot to answer your question. The HTTP/1.1 specification says nothing about long-duration 302s being treated as permanent. As such, an behavior along these lines is actually breaking the standard. If any of the search engines actually behave like this, it would be the first time I hear of them breaking HTTP protocol. It's very unlikely they're doing this.

Also: check your log files. If the 302 is being treated as permanent, then the number of requests to the redirector page will drop over time. If not, you would expect it to remain the same. If you have access to logs going back a few months, you should be able to pull out the data quickly using regular expressions.

Cheers,
Pierre

#10 pleeker

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Posted 26 June 2007 - 01:50 PM

Thank you all for the great replies. And eKstreme, thanks for putting it in plain English that us non-programmers can understand. :-)

Much appreciated all around!

#11 projectphp

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Posted 26 June 2007 - 09:33 PM

If any of the search engines actually behave like this, it would be the first time I hear of them breaking HTTP protoco

Hmmmm....

Here is a question: how long is an SE session? (Just the response codes for reference).

Consider

10.3.2 301 Moved Permanently. The requested resource has been assigned a new permanent URI and any future references to this resource SHOULD use one of the returned URIs.

Permanent as in forever anda day? or forever in terms of a browser's session or temporary index?

If we take forever to mean forever and a day, what happens when someone changes a 301? "Too bad, so sad" or "well, OK then, change it"?

No SE that aims to properly index the internet can resonably expect to never crawl a 301 redirected page ever again, because, well, things change!

There are a lot of reasons why SEs won't take your word for something (either in the form of server redirects, meta keywords or even on page content), and it isn't unreassonable to assume that, at some point, they will break pretty much every protocol, if the rewards outweigth the risks :)



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