Refresh meta tag or 301 redirect?

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    What is the Refresh meta tag?

    When a user requests to display a page in a browser, there is a time delay before the browser refreshes the page, or it redirects to a completely different page.

    Information from Google Support.

    Что такое Refresh?

    When is the Refresh meta tag and 301 redirect used?

    1. Website moving to a new domain. On February 6, 2015, John Muller, head of the Google Webmaster Help Team, stated on the Webmaster Central Help Forum that he strongly discourages using the refresh meta tag when redirecting a site in the event of a site move. If possible, a 301 redirect should be used.
    2. Refresh page for new information, simulate PUSH

    The Refresh meta tag is used by developers to automatically refresh a page at a specific time interval to get the latest information.

    Information from w3c

    Спецификация W3C

    The w3c spec states that automatically changing the user’s page at regular intervals is not desirable because developers cannot predict how long it will take the user to read the page; a premature update can be disorienting for users. Content developers should avoid periodic updates and allow users to choose when they want to update information on a page. Also, content developers should not use this technique to mimic “PUSH” technology.

    Read more here.

    1. Redirect to another page

    Sometimes it is necessary to redirect the user from one page to another.

    First case. Thank You Page

    Step 1. The user has filled out the feedback form/made an order.

    Step 2. 301 redirect to the “Thank you for the order” page.

    Спасибо за заказ

    Next, we want to redirect the user to the main page, or any other conversion page in order to perform a targeted action (newsletter subscription, order, etc.), or improve behavioral factors (increase in the number of pages viewed, time spent on the site). To do this, you can either use a 301 redirect (but then you get a double redirect, which negatively affects search engine optimization), or put the Refresh meta tag. The latter is the priority. Because pages with this meta tag are ignored by Google, and “Thank you for the order” is not involved in the search and ranking, then it is advisable to set Refresh on this page.

    Second case. Page “Badbrowser”

    If your site requires Javascript and Cookies support, and the user is using an outdated browser, such as IE 9, you can set up a redirect using the Refresh meta tag to the download page for the latest browsers.

    From the point of view of optimization for search engines, this looks incorrect (see the statement by Google and the W3C), but large sites such as can afford this technology.

    Line 18 in the source code: <noscript><meta http-equiv=”refresh” content=”0; URL=/badbrowser.php”></noscript>

    For all other sites, I would not recommend using Refresh, instead using either a 301 redirect; or site optimization for IE users (can be very expensive); or ignore such users (look at the data in Google Analytics, do you really have so many users who use outdated browsers?).

    Third case. “Black doorways”

    “Black Doorway” is a page that automatically redirects the user to a completely different site using the refresh meta tag, or a redirect, which clearly violates the licenses of search engines, see “Poor quality sites” for more details.

    The punishment from the search engines in this case is the exclusion from the search of the site pages.

    General conclusions: It is not recommended to use the Refresh meta tag. Search engines may consider it as search spam. Sanctions in this case can be: downgrading, exclusion from the index of a particular page, in the case of doorways – complete removal of the site from the index. You should use a 301 or 302 redirect instead of the Refresh meta tag.

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