How Redirects Work 301 302 Dallas Advertising

Shopify URL Redirects: Are They 301s or 302s?

We were recently working on a client site and converting them over to Shopify's eCommerce platform. They were one of the first dance shops to sell online, so they've built up impressively strong domain authority and get a fair amount of organic search traffic. Shopify URL redirects were necessary to ensure throughout this migration that the client was able to retain the majority of their "link juice" despite the welcomed information architecture structure changes.

If you know what this means, we'll just give you the answer below and you can move along. If you're interested in learning more about the difference between 301 and 302 and why it's important to your online presence, keep reading.

The short answer is: Shopify's redirects are HTTP 301 redirects.

For the life of us, we couldn't definitively find out if Shopify's URL redirects were 301 or 302. We found article after article that discussed their URL redirects but no one specifically answered the question. This includes Shopify's own redirect help page!

It's an important detail in technical SEO setup that many people overlook when moving pages or migrating a site to a new platform that uses different URL structures. You can't afford to ignore the distinction, as your URLs will almost certainly change with a new website.

What are 301 Redirects?

Simply put, 301 redirects tell search engines that you have moved a page permanently. According to many tests, they pass between 85% and 99% of a page's "link juice" to the new page. Search engines are able to identify that you have moved a page that they have previously indexed.

What are 302 Redirects?

302 redirects tell search engines that you have moved a page temporarily. This is useful if you want to return users to the old URL because you've made a temporary change to the URL. The issue with a 302 redirect is that it passes 0% of the "link juice" we discussed before. 302 redirects effectively cause you to lose any of the authority that page has created for your site. It will negatively affect your organic search traffic if your intent was to replace the page entirely. An example scenario is getting rid of a page on your website, but setting up a redirect to, say, your home page, so that old links to that page don't break (404s are bad news).

Why do I want my URL redirects to be 301s?

Status 301 redirects are the only way to tell Google (or any of the other search engines) where a page has gone permanently. They will still categorize that page as the same content. You must build your site to accommodate that expectation. In other words, make sure the new page has the same type of content, or else your efforts (and page rank) will wash down the drain once Google realizes it's less relevant. Whatever you do, make sure all of your old URLs redirect to SOMETHING, even if the content isn't a one-to-one carryover. Dead links will kill you.

How do I test if a redirect is a 301 redirect?

Luckily, there are a fair amount of tools out there to help you confirm if the redirect that you have setup is status 301 or status 302. We like to use Redirect Checker or Screaming Frog SEO Spider to test client sites. On these sites, you place a URL into the field and out pops the HTTP status code for that URL. It's that easy.

I do want to mention that this confusion was specific to the Shopify platform. For most websites, a simple htaccess file can be edited to list out all your desired redirects. Upload to your host and you're all set. This type of upload is not an option for Shopify and some other platforms.

After this experience, we feel like we could write a book just on redirects! So let us know if you have more questions about the technical pieces or best practices.

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