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How-to 7 min read September 5, 2019

Why meta refresh and JavaScript-redirects need to be abandoned

Forced redirects like Meta Refresh or JavaScript cause an ambiguous reaction among users and search engines, and can also negatively affect the indexing of site pages. Therefore, it is better to refuse such a redirect in favor of a 301 redirect.

How the Refresh Meta Tag Works

The user visits one page, but it is updated immediately or after a certain period of time. This method was often used when creating doorways, so it is not surprising that the search services struggle with the Meta Refresh redirect.

In addition to black methods, webmasters used such redirects when:

  • moving the site to another domain;
  • directing the user to the main page after the purchase in order to improve usability;
  • giving the user new information after a certain period of time;
  • needs to complete the next step for a purchase or other action on the website;
  • using outdated versions of browsers when redirect scripts do not work on the user's page or Cookies support is disabled.

In the HTML code, the redirect line looks like this:
<meta http-equiv="refresh" content="7">
Or like this:
<meta http-equiv="refresh" content="2; URL = http: /">
In the first case, HTML is redirected in 7 seconds. In the second, the page will refresh in 2 seconds, and the user will see a completely different site in front of him. Search engines are punished for such actions with filters and even a ban.

Here's what Google support said about this:
Google recommendations on redirects meta refresh
Google's lead analyst John Muller writes that using Refresh can index other content. The bot perceives this meta tag as a redirect and, as a result, scans information after updating it.
John Muller's HTML Refresh Recommendations

Disadvantages of a Refresh Redirect

Clogs the page history.
The "Back" button may not work in the user's browser (depending on the version of the browser and the prescribed code).
As a result, the wrong page may be indexed. For example, after the perfect action, the user is directed to the page with the text of gratitude. The bot can automatically index the second page instead of the first.
Restriction of user freedom. Pages reload automatically, and this is annoying.
A search bot can identify a page with a meta redirect as spam. As a result, the filter will be imposed on this page or the entire site.
In older versions of the browser, such transitions may not work correctly.

How JavaScript redirects work

Some webmasters have used this redirect to trick search algorithms. After all, the information is processed only at the browser level, which means it is not transmitted to the server. Indeed, most search engines do not index JS redirects, but not Google. This bot is able to recognize such a redirect.

Here's what the JS redirect looks like in practice:
<script type="text/javascript">
In this case, you will redirect the user from the original page to If you add a function:
  setTimeout( 'location="";', 3000 );
You set the interval to 3 seconds after which a redirect to another site will occur.

Disadvantages of JavaScript redirects

Sometimes JavaScript is disabled in browsers for security reasons. Then the update will not work. And if it does happen, then the Google search bot may index the wrong page.

Here a situation occurs that is identical to using the Refresh meta tag. Such redirects are justified only in one case: if, after a certain user action, it is necessary to make a double redirect to improve behavioral factors.

For example, in the online store, after the purchase, a 301 redirect to the thank you page or further instructions is triggered. After that, it is advisable to direct the user to the main or subscription page. A double 301 redirect has a bad effect on SEO optimization. Then it is allowed to use the Refresh tag. In other cases, it is better to refuse such manipulations.


Using redirects such as Refresh or JavaScript can adversely affect site indexing. Search bots can identify pages with such redirects as spam, and the user will not like updating information without his consent.

Any fraud of a user or search engine is not acceptable for SEO: it is instantly recognized by search engines. For this, the site is excluded from the search or underestimated. And restoring an honest domain name after such an error can be extremely difficult.

If the site at least once fell under the filters of search engines, then even after their removal the resource will advance worse. As a result, you will have to register a new domain.

In addition to the possible consequences of sanctions, redirects using JavaScript may simply not work in some browsers. Therefore, it is better to refuse such forwarding in favor of server 301 redirects. This recommendation is also given by Google.

This article is a part of Serpstat's Checklist tool
Checklist at Serpstat" title = "Why meta refresh and JavaScript-redirects need to be abandoned 16261788331895" />
Checklist is a ready-to-do list that helps to keep reporting of the work progress on a specific project. The tool contains templates with an extensive list of project development parameters where you can also add your own items and plans.
Try Checklist now

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