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Auto Redirecting What It Is and How to Use It

Aug 17, 2007
Many web designers are using auto redirecting techniques lately for a number of reasons. Auto redirecting occurs when a visitor to your website is automatically sent to another page when he or she has landed on a given page. This other page is frequently located on the same website but can also be located on an entirely different website.

This technique has become extremely popular as a part of search engine optimization strategies. When a website has been created entirely for the purposes of search engine optimization then webmasters will often apply auto redirection to its web pages to send visitors to the main site automatically. This is because the search engine optimized site may not have any real value to visitors. It has been designed to obtain a very high ranking. Therefore the auto redirecting takes the visitor to the correct part of the website which is meant for the visitors themselves.

This technique while commonly quite effective is extremely frowned upon by all of the major search engines. Commonly websites discovered to have auto redirectors will be penalized for this activity. However search engines are not set up in a way that they can automatically detect the majority of redirecting techniques. It is primarily the human indexed search engines and directories that catch such webmasters in the act.

This being said search engines are not against all uses of auto redirecting. In fact there are many reasons that search engines will consider quite valid for auto redirection. For example when a message has been posted on a posting board the contributor is frequently sent to a confirmation page. On many sites this confirmation page displays only for a few seconds and then it auto redirects to the main posting board once more.

There are a number of different methods that are used for auto redirecting. These include

The Meta Refresh Tag Technique

This method can be detected automatically by search engines so it must be used for a reason that they consider to be valid or you risk being penalized. There must be a reasonable delay (at least 5 seconds) used for a search engine to approve of the use of this auto redirection.

The JavaScript Technique

This method cannot be detected automatically by search engines as they are currently unable to parse JavaScript. Though this script may be positioned anywhere on the page it is best placed in the head section so that it is capable of starting as soon as the webpage loads.

The Form Technique

Since search engine spiders are currently unable to complete website forms and they do not try to submit any forms they cannot automatically detect when forms are utilized for auto redirecting. Forms are often overlooked by webmasters for auto redirecting purposes because they do not realize that the URL of a forms action details is simply a URL that is requested by the browser to the server. The form however can be given special treatment by a visitors browser if new name value pairs are added to the designated URL. However if no name value pairs exist the browser will still make the same request for the URL. Once the page begins to load JavaScript can be used for submitting the form right away.

Be very careful with the uses of your auto redirecting if you dont want to risk having all of your hard work penalized by the search engines that will be indexing you. Just make sure that you are using auto redirection for the right reasons in their books. Furthermore make sure that you are allowing a long enough delay before the auto redirection kicks in. Anything less than five seconds will be considered suspicious by search engines and they may object.

As long as you give a long enough delay then the Meta Tag Technique is perfectly acceptable and provides perfect results. However if you require an instant auto redirection because you dont want visitors to see the page that they have initially accessed then you will need to use other methods such as the JavaScript technique.

Youll find that auto redirect can give your website a very professional appearance and will help you to provide your visitors with precisely what they were looking for.
About the Author
Mark Nenadic
Mark is the director and face behind FifteenDegrees-North, where you will find articles and resources to help with SEO,
marketing and Web design.
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