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What Is a Redirect in Search Engine Optimization?

A redirect is the automatic loading of a page without user intervention. You click a link to load a web page into your browser, and within seconds, the page you loaded disappears, and a new one appears. Designers often create pages designed for search engines — optimized, keyword-rich pages — that redirect visitors to the real website, which is not so well optimized.

Search engines read the page, but visitors never really see it.

Redirects can be carried out in various ways:

  • By using the REFRESH meta tag. This is an old trick that search engines discovered long ago; most search engines don't index a page that has a REFRESH tag that quickly bounces the visitor to another page.

  • By using JavaScript to automatically load another page within a split second.

  • By using JavaScript that’s tripped by a user action that is almost certain to occur. You can see an example of this method at work in the following figure. The large button on this page has a JavaScript mouseover event associated with it; when users move their mice over the image — as they’re almost certain to do — the mouseover event triggers, loading the next page.


You're unlikely to be penalized for using a redirect. But a search engine may ignore the redirect page. That is, if the search engine discovers that a page is redirecting to another page, it simply ignores the redirect page and indexes the destination page. Search engines reasonably assume that redirect pages are merely way stations on the route to the real content.

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