It’s typically wise to avoid absolutes such as “never” or “always.” But we’d be remiss not to recommend never using an HTML redirect to another page. Not only is it a missed opportunity for SEO, but it’s not the most efficient or beneficial way to handle redirects.
What is an HTML Redirect?
Like other redirects, an HTML redirect sends users to a different URL than they entered in the search bar. For the website visitor, this is the only change they see. Unlike a 301 or 302 redirect, this type of redirect is executed in the HTML code. Performing an HTML redirect also prevents you from using a 301 or 302 redirect, which means you can’t transfer link equity.
Why 301 and 302 Redirects are Better
As part of an SEO marketing strategy, HTML redirects fall short on effectiveness. If you try to redirect a landing page using HTML, you may inadvertently create multiple URLs for a given page — often involving the use of a trailing slash. With so many websites created in user-friendly interfaces like WordPress, attempting to manually execute HTML redirects is bound to lead to errors and frustration.
It’s architecturally cleaner to use 301 or 302 redirects. While you can use a meta tag in the header to “fool” a browser into doing a redirect via HTML, it’s a bit like using a butter knife as a flathead screwdriver. It might get the job done, but it’s not the tool a professional would use. SEO experts, web developers, and internet marketers, similarly, should choose the right tool for their jobs. A 301 or 302 redirect is the proper tool, so to speak, if you want to preserve the page’s SEO value.
Why HTML Redirects are a Missed Opportunity
HTML redirects are also a missed opportunity to improve your site’s SEO value over the long-term. When you complete an HTML redirect, you have to think about whether you want the link equity to move from the source page or the target page or not. You have to ask yourself: Is the page being permanently redirected, or is this a temporary situation?
If it’s permanent, you want all the link equity you’ve built up to move to the target page. But if you’ve already returned the original page to the web browser using HTML, you’ve missed the opportunity to maintain the link equity with a 301 redirect. The status code shows up as 200, or an HTTP 200 OK code response. That means the browser has already returned the page successfully. Even if you’ve also used a 301 redirect, which tells the browser this is a permanent redirect and all link equity and SEO value should be preserved, it’s too late to affect the page’s SEO at that point.
In addition, HTML redirects leave too much room for error, and can even slow your website down. When you establish an HTML redirect, you have to set the redirect speed in the code. But even if you set the speed to 0, for an instantaneous redirect, the original page and the new page both need to load. An HTML redirect is slower than a 301 or 302 redirect, since the latter two only return HTTP headers and not an entire web page.
Slow page load feeds may adversely affect:
- Bounce rates
- User experience
- SEO rankings
They also waste bandwidth because you deliver the entire web page, rather than just a header. It’s faster, easier, and more streamlined to set up a 301 or 302 redirect.
For these reasons, we don’t support HTML redirects at EasyRedir. You can learn more about the other types of redirects we do support and reach out if you have questions about how EasyRedir may be able to help with your URL redirection needs.