Search engines treat meta refresh the same as 301 redirects

imageSEOMOZ recently published a good post for testing your level of expertise on SEO.  Whilst I am pleased to say I got the majority of the answers correct, there was one fact in the follow up post which was news to me!  I would like to share this in case this is also a surprise for others.

Meta tag refreshes can be used to ‘redirect’ users from one page to another.  The code is placed in the head section of a page and looks something like this…


This example code will wait 5 seconds, and then redirect the user to  The delay time can be used to display a notification to the user informing them that they are being redirected.

Whilst I had previously thought that these types of redirects were not as effective as 301 redirects for informing search engines that a page has moved, it turns out that as long as the delay time is low (0 or a few seconds), then the redirect code is considered the same as a server side 301 redirect code (i.e. the link juice will be passed to the new URL).  Longer delays may not be considered the same.

This is valuable news for anyone who…

  1. Has difficulties creating server side redirects for their content
  2. Would like to make it clear to users that they are being redirected (by displayed a short message first)


Author: Chris Moore is a program manager from Microsoft working on Search Engine Optimisation.  Follow him on Twitter

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