Welcome to MetaTagSEO.com/refresh.html, an information resource page specific to instruction on techniques for taking advantage of the 'refresh' meta tag for redirecting users (and search engines) to moved or renamed pages with a simple HTML page.
This page is actually diverges away from the actual website theme of using a meta tag for SEO, because using the refresh meta tag is not an ideal way to redirect users and search engine spiders to moved or renamed pages. The best way to redirect traffic to a new web address is usually by using a 301 (permanently moved) redirect. This is usually done by editing a directory configuration text file. In Linux, this is usually the ".htaccess" file. But care is required when editing the .htaccess text file, while a simple .html file using the 'refresh' meta tag is quick, easy to do, and very effective.
Still, the refresh meta tag is a much better option than doing nothing at all to redirect old bookmarks to a new web address. Although the httaccess method is easier and faster for browsers and crawlers, it is optimal over having no means of reirecting old addresses to new ones. Plus, its a lot faster for the webmaster who already knows HTML and doesn't want to learn the much more sensitive and tricky .htaccess code (although that skill is also an invaluable tool in any webmaster's toolbox).
The Refresh Meta Tag
In its simplest form, the refresh meta tag can be used to reload the page after a specified time. Used in the <head> of an HTML document, the following syntax will reload the page after 10 minutes:
Document Refresh Meta Tag Format:
<meta http-equiv="refresh" content="600" />
This meta tag's http-equiv attribute is telling the browser that it is sending an http command as opposed to text. The refresh instruction calls for a refresh of this page or another one. Without a redirect address, the content indicates the number of seconds before that page is refreshed, or reloaded.
There aren't a lot of reasons to refresh a web page. One could be that a non-looping animated gif is replayed, just to attract the users attention to a specific part of the page. But this will most likely disturb most users if they are scrolling down a page to read and the reload makes them lose their place.
Most designers and webmasters will avoid hassling their visiting user. But the same meta tag can be used very effectively to direct a user to a new web address.
Meta Tag Format:
<meta http-equiv="refresh" content="2;http://foosite.com/path/to/file.html" />
By adding a semicolon and web address to the content field, we are now refreshing the current document with an entirely new one at the given address, thereby redirecting them to a new page.
There are actually a few advantages to using an html page to redirect a user to a new web page address over using a .htaccess file. Mainly, you can insert a message to the user that will display briefly (for however long you require) and ask the user to update his bookmarks with the new web address.
The above example waits 2 seconds to send a user to the http://foosite.com/path/to/html web address. A simple web page can be setup to notify the user and send him on to the new web address easily, all while informing search engines to the new web address as well:
<title>Redirecting You to the New Web Address</title>
<meta name="language" content="en-us" />
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=UTF-8" />
<meta http-equiv="refresh" content="3;http://foosite.com/path/to/file.html" />
<meta name="robots" content="index, follow" />
<h1>Redirecting You to the New Web Address...</h1>
<p>Your browser will take you to the new web address shortly<br />
Or simply click the link: <a href="http://foosite.com/path/to/file.html" title="New Web Address, Please Update Your Old Bookmark to Reflect the New URL" />http://foosite.com/path/to/file.html</a><br />
...if your web browser does not redirect you after 3 seconds.<br />
<b>Please Update Your Old Bookmark to Reflect the New URL</b></p>
In the HTML document example given above, I increased the wait time to refesh with the new document to 3 seconds to allow the visitor enough time to read it all. You will have to update all instances of the given hyperlink with the new web address, of course. And you might even want to add your logo, for the sake of your brand recognition and to assure the visitor he is still on site, but the more data the longer to the redirect, and we are already interupting the new page load time by 3 seconds, which can be forever for web surfers, so try to use a reduced size logo that is optimized for a quick load time.
Of course, you don't actually have to make the user wait at all, if you don't want to...
<meta http-equiv="refresh" content="0;http://foosite.com/path/to/file.html" />
<meta name="robots" content="index, follow" />
Redirecting you to a new URL...
Since your document is really redirecting traffic, you don't want people to bookmark it, you want them to bookmark the new page. So, no description or keywords metas tags are required. Your HTML isn't really a document, it is a redirect, so the language and content-type metas are optional and not required if there is no message or no delay to the refresh. The distribution, rating, creator and publisher meta tags are all absolutely worthless. No revisit-after or verification metas should be used, as you don't want to piss-off the search engines. But, if they do find that page, you do want them to follow it to the new web address, so the robots meta tag is a good one to use if you don't have a robots.txt file directing traffic. You might want to disallow bot access to the redirects if the new web page(s) is/are on site (same server and using the same domain address), and instead direct them right to the new pages.
Also, if you have your site indexed with a sitemap (another good search optimization tactic), you might want to delete the entries that would link to any such refresh meta documents that are simply redirecting traffic to new, updated, or moved documents. This is where the .htaccess file actually wins out, because you can manage all the redirects for a single directory or more, allowing you to manage them all in one place without having to update autogenerated site maps.
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