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Search Engine Interaction: "http-equiv" tags

Posted on 3.19.2006

Almost every site serious about search engine positioning includes meta-tags into the head section of their site. There is much more to interacting with search engines however than just including a title, keywords and description tags for the pages that Web surfers are visiting- you also should provide supporting documentation about the Web page. This is done through the http-equiv tag.

The HTTP-EQUIV attribute can be used in place of the NAME attribute and has a special significance when documents are retrieved via the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP). META tags with an HTTP-EQUIV attribute are bound to HTTP headers. Typically, they control the action of browsers, and may be used to refine the information provided by the actual headers.

For example, take a look at the index page of You will see the http-equiv attribute included as follows:

The http-equiv tag can also be used to express when content expires, to set the client side scripting language forinline scripts to Javascript, to set the style language for inline styles to CSS or set character encodeing.:

Expiration -
Javascript -
Style Lang. -

One of the most common uses of the equiv attribute is for refreshing a page or redirecting a visitor to another page. The is very useful when you need to move or rename a page on your site. Since search engines may already have your page in their index, it is wise to include a redirect page to not lose those visitors. Some SEO experts argue that it is better to set up a permanent redirect on your site but if you are in a hurry, this is a quick and easy way to get it done (just include it in the head section of your HTML):

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