We have a site which currently hosts .htm and .html versions of each page. We want to fade out the .htm pages so that only the html pages are indexed. To ensure that we do not lose our rankings for the .htm pages the solution would not be to simply delete these off the server.
I have considered the 301 redirect in the htaccess file however our server does not support this file.
<html> <head> <META HTTP-EQUIV="Refresh" CONTENT="0; URL=http://www.example.com/page.html"> </head> <body>You will be redirected shortly to the new <a href="http://www.example.com/page.html">Example Site</a> page. </body> </html>
[edited by: DaveAtIFG at 4:42 pm (utc) on April 27, 2004] [edit reason] Exemplified URLs and corrected side scroll [/edit]
So my understanding is, if a links to b, b forwards to c then the SE just assumes that a links to c.
This is acceptable when using HTTP redirects, but you're assuming all the search engines parse and recognised meta-refreshes. How would they distinguish between refreshes used to fake redirects with refreshes used on things like the recent posts page here on Webmaster World?
Years ago, "fast meta refresh tags" were a popular SE spamming technique and acquired a bad reputation. Setting the refresh delay to 5 seconds or longer has never caused me problems.
Some possible options are using mod_rewrite or mod_alias. I've seen hosts that support mod_alias [httpd.apache.org] directives but not mod_rewrite [apache.org] directives in .htaccess.
Directives used by either of these modules can be included in .htaccess or httpd.conf (your server configuration file) so if .htaccess is not an option, perhaps you can convince your host to revise the config file. Or get a new host. ;)
Meta refresh tags are a convention followed by many SEs. Redirects and rewrites comply with HTTP specs and they are the right way to do it to insure any SE (with a properly coded spider) picks up your changes.