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I'm doing an audit for a client who has a 303 redirect on his site from: example.com to example.com/en/.

I personally would have used a 301 redirect, but I want to know if a 303 passes page rank the same as a 301, if there are any circumstances where I should use a 303, and whether or not I should suggest switching it.

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Why would a 301 better in this instance? – w3dk Nov 11 '12 at 9:52
@w3d Because I know it works – Dan Gayle Nov 11 '12 at 20:08
@w3d Matt Cutts has also said 301s do pass some link juice but not all – Anagio Nov 15 '12 at 17:16
My query about whether a 301 was "better", wasn't necessarily to do with PageRank, but whether a "Moved Permanently" status is really preferred? Do you really want to tell the source of the request (possibly a search engine) that the domain root should not be referenced? – w3dk Nov 18 '12 at 15:53
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Does a 303 pass PageRank like a 301?

I don't know, but I can devise an approach to your problem based on what I do know. Specifically:

  • I know from Google sources that a 301 will pass PageRank and anchor text
  • For the purposes of getting a user from example.com to example.com/en/, both 301 and 303 give the same result

So should you recommend switching it?

If passing PageRank is a concern, there's a good argument to use a 301 instead: we know it passes PageRank, and using it doesn't harm functionality, whereas we don't know what Google will do with a 303.

Also, a lot of search engine behaviour can be inferred from the specifications of the technology they use and work with. The specification for the 303 states that "The new URI is not a substitute reference for the originally requested resource". So the destination of the redirect is not a substitute for the original: that suggests to me that a search engine might treat it more like a temporary redirection than a permanent one.

When should you use a 303?

The specification states that it's intended for forms, which is a very specific intention. I certainly can't think of any other uses that would fit the crux of that specification (quoted above).

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I have a related question about 303 errors appearing in GWT here Did you maybe experience this too? – donfuxx Feb 21 '14 at 19:25

A 303 status code does not pass/flow page rank. The w3 status 303 definition can be found at link.


Page A 303 redirects to Page B

Title: Page B

URI: Page A

Meta Description: Page B

The page rank of Page A does not pass to Page B.

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I think I saw this exact answer on another websites. Bad form! Besides, the answer on that page suffered from small sample size. – Dan Gayle Nov 11 '12 at 20:09

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