The 301, 302, and Rel=Canonical. What’s the difference?

Difference between 301, 302 and REL canonical

We all would have heard about the 301s, 302s, and Rel=canonical and most of the time we would have wondered aren’t they the same. The answer to this is no, they are not the same.

One of the common misconceptions regarding the 302s is that it does not pass the Page Rank. But, in reality, this is not true. In some cases, 302s begin transferring the authority. So, if it does pass the PR, then it is same as the 301s. We would again tell you, that they are not similar.

Why is it so confusing?

Both bots and humans experience the pages differently In order to clear the confusion that has aroused in your brain, let’s discuss it all in detail.


A 301-redirect situation is a permanent redirect. When we have an old URL, say URL A and want to permanently move the entire site to URL B, then we use the 301-redirection.

By using this redirection, we tell all browsers and bots two things:

  • All the traffic should go to the new site that is to the URL B
  • Pass all the authority and ranking signals to the new page as well.


A 302-redirect is not a permanent redirect. It is just for some time. Let’s say you create a new page and want people to come to that page rather than the homepage for some time. Then we use the 302.

Why are these differentiations important?

Sometimes, in the real world, the situation is not that simple. Some of the situations can be like URL A has 301 redirections to URL B which then has a 302 redirection to page C and then the page C Rel=canonicals back to page A.

By creating such scenarios, we are sending bad signals. It doesn’t make sense. There are other scenarios where we put a 302 redirection and forget to remove it or change to 301. Many people set up 302s because that is in their CMS and that’s what is easy in an Apache rewrite file.
In cases like this, even the bots get confused and as they have to choose a page, they end up choosing the wrong one.

Some common situations that can elevate your confusion:

Long term 302s can be treated as 301

If you put a 302 redirection and leave it for a long time say 6 months, then Google is going to look at it and think that your 302 was by mistake. It will start considering it as a 301 and will begin passing the rank signals and juices.

In some cases, the 302s do not even make sense. Say you are migrating from HTTP to HTTPS, why would you want to put a 302 in this case. This is a permanent choice and Google will think that you meant to put a 301. It will start transferring the authority.

Rel=Canonical is for bots, not people

Rel=canonical is actually different from the 301. It helps in preventing the duplicate content issue. Say sometimes, we have two different pages say Page A and Page B, which are kind of similar to each other. Then through Rel= Canonical from Page A to Page B, we tell the bots that both the pages are important to me but Page B is the main page. However, I want people to stay on Page A as well.

This is entirely different from 301 and 302.

Why this matters?

You should always use the right signals. Don’t confuse Google and make bad choices. Some of your 302s may end up being treated as 301 and the Rel=canonical is totally different.

Keep your goals in mind and then use them for your benefit. We at Elixir Web Solutions analyze your needs and requirements deeply. Being the best SEO Company in India we provide you with the best solutions.

Govinda Chandak


Govinda Chandak

Qualified Electronics Engineer (B.Tech.) and Certified Digital Marketing Expert with a proven track record of working in the industry for more than 8 years. Core area of specialisation comprises Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Search Engine Marketing (SEM), Social Media Marketing (SMM), Content Marketing & Syndication, and Industry Market Research. I’m passionate about intelligent customer journey mapping & delivering ROI. I can help you build your brand reputation & improve your business’s online presence with an extensive knowledge of various technical aspects.

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