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Redirect With Meta Refresh


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5 replies to this topic

#1 mee

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Posted 14 January 2011 - 01:55 PM

Does Google also honor the Meta Refresh Tag as the 301 redirect?
I want to set up redirect from a place which does not support htaccess and the only available option is meta refresh, If I end up using it than will Google pass link power from old URLs to the new URLs ?

and what time should I set in the meta refresh tag? should It be 0 or something like 2 or 5 seconds ?

Thanks


#2 Michael Martinez

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Posted 14 January 2011 - 02:54 PM

QUOTE(mee @ Jan 14 2011, 10:55 AM) View Post
Does Google also honor the Meta Refresh Tag as the 301 redirect?


Yes, they do.

QUOTE
I want to set up redirect from a place which does not support htaccess and the only available option is meta refresh, If I end up using it than will Google pass link power from old URLs to the new URLs ?


I don't recall if they say they do.

QUOTE
and what time should I set in the meta refresh tag? should It be 0 or something like 2 or 5 seconds ?


I usually go with 0 seconds.


#3 qwerty

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Posted 14 January 2011 - 03:52 PM

As I understand it, if you have to use a meta refresh, and you want the search engines to treat it like a 301 redirect, then Michael's recommendation of 0 seconds is the way to go. But years ago, I read a page by our old friend Ian Mcanerin in which he warns that the meta refresh is definitely not the best way to go, suggesting that sometimes a search engine will treat it as a 302 rather than a 301, leaving the old page in the index. Here's what he wrote on the subject:
QUOTE
Meta Refresh Redirect (Not The Best Choice)

Let's start with a bad example. It's also a very, very common example, so you need to know about it. There is an HTML tag called the meta refresh that can do redirects that search engines can detect and react to. This is the one exception to the idea that client side scripts and tags don't affect search engines. They usually look at this one.

The question is, after they look at it, how do they handle it? This is a very important issue. For one thing, webmasters have been using this for years in good faith, and if a search engine fails to understand it then the result would be a lot of very good sites not being handled properly.

So a search engine needs to deal with it. Most search engines assume that a refresh that's faster than the time it would take the average page to load fully is intended act like a server redirect, whereas if the refresh is set high enough for the user to see it and update their bookmarks, that the intent was to have the user fix their bookmarks, not for the server to fix it for them. At this point the refresh is more of a courtesy than an instruction. Therefore search engines typically only worry about fast refreshes.

Now, they appear to treat a fast meta refresh as a 302, and life is much better for everyone involved. I'm not aware of any official statements on how they handle meta refresh, so this information comes from word-of-mouth and testing. Since it's handled as a 302, it's not the preferred type of redirect for SEO purposes.

Yahoo, to their immense credit, has actually outlined how they handle this. If a meta redirect is set to 0 seconds, then it will be treated as a 301 redirect. If it is greater than 1 second, it's treated as a 302 redirect. Frankly, I consider this to be an excellent way to handle it.

MSN Search says "Adding a meta redirect tag to your page header does not remove your original page from the MSN Search index; however, it will redirect visitors to your new site. " I read this to mean that they treat it as a 302 redirect. Since a 302 is considered temporary, the original page is kept in the index.

ASK apparently treats a meta-refresh of 0 as a 302, where it retrieves the target page in place of the source page, but keeps the source page reference until it figures out what is going on.

So basically, all 4 major search engines handle the meta-refresh differently - I strongly recommend NOT using it if you have any choice. If you have to, you are best assuming that a meta-refresh of 0 will work most consistently, and will probably be treated as a 302 by everyone except Yahoo, who will treat is as a 301.

This goes against the "conventional wisdom" that a meta-refresh will result in a ban or penalty. Not true. It will result in a 302 - which may look like a penalty under some circumstances. 302's can be bad news since the target content is treated as belonging to the source page, which can result in hijacks, duplication issues, and numerous other problems.

I don't recommend it, but it can work as a method of last resort. Caveat Emptor.


Keep in mind, however, that that advice is about five years old (note the references to dead and buried search engines), so maybe things have changed since then and you can count on the meta refresh being treated as a 301 now. I don't use it, so I don't know.

But you do have other options if the meta refresh makes you as nervous as it does me. Depending on your site's scripting language, you can set a 301 redirect right in the page using PHP or ASP code. There are examples of the code for doing that on the page I've linked to.

#4 mee

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 12:29 PM

actually it was a website on free host , no php or scripting , just static html files so meta redirect was only option

I have created the redirect now with 0 timer, should I now expect google to show the redirected URLs in Search results instead of the original ones?


#5 chrishirst

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 04:29 PM

QUOTE
should I now expect google to show the redirected URLs in Search results instead of the original ones?
Eventually

#6 Michael Martinez

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 07:08 PM

These things can take a while. And I believe Google has changed its position on meta-refreshes once or twice through the years. It's really not considered the optimal approach to redirection but if you have no other options then do it and don't worry about it. Worrying won't give you any other options.




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