Why meta refresh and JavaScript redirects should be abandoned?

Forced redirects like Refresh or JavaScript cause mixed reactions from users and search engines, and may also have a negative impact on site page indexing. Therefore, it is better to abandon such redirects in favor of 301 redirect.

How does the meta tag Refresh work?

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

In addition to black methods, webmasters used such a redirect when:

  • Moving the site to another domain;
  • Directing the user to the home page after purchase in order to improve usability;
  • Giving the user new information after a certain period of time;
  • There is a need to take the next step to make a purchase or other activity on the site;
  • Using outdated versions of browsers, when redirect scripts do not work on the user’s page or Cookie support is disabled.

In 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:/site.ru»>

In the first case, HTML redirect will be performed in 7 seconds. In the second case, the page will be updated in 2 seconds, and the user will see a completely different site. Search engines punish such actions with filters and even bans.

Here’s what Google’s support says about it:

 Google’s lead analyst John Muller writes that using Refresh can cause other content to be indexed. The bot perceives this meta tag as a redirect and, as a result, scans the information after it has been updated.

 Disadvantages of Refresh redirect

  1. Clogs page history.
  2. The “Back” button in the user’s browser may not work (depending on the version of the browser and the code prescribed).
  3. As a result, the wrong page may be indexed. For example, after performing an action the user is directed to the page with the text of gratitude. The bot may automatically index the second page instead of the first.
  4. Limitation of user freedom. Pages are reloaded automatically, and that causes irritation.
  5. The search bot may identify the meta-redirect page as spam. As a result, this page or the entire site will be imposed a filter.
  6. Such redirects may not work properly in older versions of the browser.

How does JavaScript redirect work?

Some webmasters used this redirection to cheat search algorithms. After all, the information is processed only at the browser level, and therefore 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 is what a JS redirect looks like in practice:

<script type=»text/javascript»>








In this case, you will redirect the user from the original page to serpstat.com. If you add the function:


  setTimeout(‘location=»http://serpstat.com»;’, 3000 );



You set the timeout to 3 seconds before the redirect to the other site happens.


Disadvantages of JavaScript redirect

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

The situation here is identical to the use of the Refresh meta tag. Such redirects are justified only in one case: if after a certain user action is necessary to make a double redirect to improve behavioral factors.

For example, in the online store after the purchase, a 301-redirect triggers to the gratitude page or further instructions. After that, it is advisable to direct the user to the home page or a page of subscriptions. Double 301-redirect affects badly on SEO-optimization. Then it is allowed to use the Refresh tag. In other cases, it is better to abandon such manipulations.


Using redirects such as Refresh or JavaScript can have a bad effect on the indexing of the site. Search bots may determine pages with such redirects as spam, and the user will not like updating information without his/her consent.

Any deception of the user or search engine is not acceptable for SEO. It is instantly recognized by search engines. The site should be excluded from the search or lowered its position for this action. So, it can be extremely difficult to restore the honest name of the domain after such an error.

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

In addition to the possible consequences in the form of sanctions, redirects using JavaScript can simply not work in some browsers. Therefore, it is better to abandon such redirects in favor of server-side 301 redirects. This is also the recommendation of Google.

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