About A Webmaster - What You Need To Know

Meta Refresh

May 3, 2005

Most people are familiar with the "Meta Refresh" style of redirect. You will have seen this type of redirect when you've gone to a web page and been presented with a message saying, "This site has moved to http://newurl.com/, you will be sent there in 5 seconds, please update your bookmarks." Then just as promised, your browser automatically loads up the page without any intervention on your part.

Though this method of redirection is quick, simple to implement and can be somewhat effective for your human visitors, it's cumbersome. People who have your website bookmarked will have to manually update their bookmarks or suffer an extra five second wait every time they want to reach your site. In a medium where the cost in visiting another site is the simple click of a mouse button, you may find yourself losing visitors quickly. You also stand to lose visitors from other sites because their inbound links will now be broken links. This type of redirection is also going to be detrimental to your search engine rankings.

As far as the search engines are concerned, a meta refresh redirect is only marginally better than no redirect at all. The old record for that document will be left behind (now refering to the redirect page) and you will have only a single link on your redirect page to get the new record started. Though this isn't a total loss, it can put a significant dent into your search engine rankings due to the loss of inbound links.

So what's the answer? How can we effectively move a web page without burdening our users and hurting our search engine rankings? The answer is: Let your web server do it! Let's find out how.

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