Meta Refresh or Redirect 301?

What is Meta Refresh and when to use the 301 redirect.

Meta Refresh

The Meta Refresh is an HTML tag that is used to automatically redirect the visitor to a new Web page after a specified period of time.

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In the example, the page will undergo a refresh after 5 seconds.

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In this example there will be a redirection after 5 seconds to the URL “domain.com”. If instead of “5” there was “0” the redirect will be immediate.

At the SEO level, Google tends to treat this type of redirect as a normal “301 redirect” although John Muller stated that it would be preferable to use a Server-side 301 redirect directly in order not to create confusion in the visitor’s eyes and to improve the experience on the pages in addition to the fact that not all browsers support “Meta refresh.”

The same guidance is followed by W3C, which discourages the use of this type of redirection

An additional disadvantage of this HTML Tag is that some Search Engines may not index the redirected pages by decreasing their visibility or even not follow this instruction. MoRs may not convey Ranking for client-side redirects besides the fact that the “back button” would lose its functionality and visitors would be immediately sent to the URL to which they were redirected.

In conclusion it is advisable to use Server side redirects but in case you have to use client side you should follow three simple best practices:

  1. Include the landing page (post “meta refresh” processing) in the XML Sitemap.
  2. Update internal links to the new page
  3. Update the Canonicals to the redirect destination page.
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