Cathay Pacific’s 302 Redirection Issue

Cathay Pacific’s 302 Redirection Issue
Sometimes I use the domain name + CTRL + ENTER keyword combination to visit a dotcom site or domain name + CTRL + SHIFT combo to get through to a dotnet address.

I recently visited Cathay Pacific’s site to check for flights and typically entered cathaypacific + CTRL + ENTER. At first it displayed the screen as shown on top. Weird, because I am not a Marco Polo member yet I am shown the page as if I am a member who incorrectly placed his member ID. On some occasions, it does redirect to the correct URL.

Apparently Cathay Pacific is employing a 302 redirect which is intended as a temporary means of redirecting one page to another. Simply put, it tells search engines to keep the original URL within the search engine index while a new page is currently being promoted (and therefore gets poor ranking).

It used to be a good idea to do 302 redirection. You get to see the best of both worlds (you retain your old URLs rankings while showing new pages/URLs to your visitors). But the technique somehow doesn’t work anymore.

An old Google blog (authored by Vanessa Fox, who has since left the company) but reliable post about 301 and 302 redirections with respect to what Google actually does:

Recently, someone asked me about moving from one domain to another. He had read that Google recommends using a 301 redirect to let Googlebot know about the move, but he wasn’t sure if he should do that. He wondered if Googlebot would follow the 301 to the new site, see that it contained the same content as the pages already indexed from the old site, and think it was duplicate content (and therefore not index it). He wondered if a 302 redirect would be a better option.

I told him that a 301 redirect was exactly what he should do. A 302 redirect tells Googlebot that the move is temporary and that Google should continue to index the old domain. A 301 redirect tells Googlebot that the move is permanent and that Google should start indexing the new domain instead. Googlebot won’t see the new site as duplicate content, but as moved content. And that’s exactly what someone who is changing domains wants.

In short, Vanessa recommends a 301 redirection. As always, I advice 301 redirection method and never venture into 302 in any way.