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Google - 301 Re-Direct Quandry - Help!

Discussion in 'Search Engine Optimization' started by Matt Byrne, Feb 13, 2008.

  1. Matt Byrne

    Matt Byrne New Member Webmaster

    Hi All

    Relatively new to the site only my second post, just wondering whether I could get soem advice from a number of parties.

    I have recently joined a new catalogue company with a website that has had no SEO done on it at all. Having said that a number of the pages have decent SERP's (obvioulsy by luck rather than judgement and probably due to the niche products that they represent)

    We are currently re-building the site, fingers crossed to go live approx 10th March. The Homepage URL will not change but effectively due to the platform that the site is being rebuilt on every other "category" and "product page" URL will change.

    I have heard a little about the benefits of 301 redirects but wanted to understand some issues given IT resource (which is quite low given the nature of this project).

    Basically, we have two options:

    1. Spend alot of time and effort re-directing every page that currently exists on our site to the new equivalent page in the new site (using 301's).

    2. We don't bother and simply redirect all current pages on our site via 301 simply to the homepage of teh new site.

    If we work on Option 2 I understand that we will lose any equity and pagerank we may have had for the ranking pages (I think - can someone clarify).

    The issue is that if we go with option 2 that we will actually cause ourselves problems with the likes of Google as we are saying our current page A, B, C.....Z are permanently now all at a single homepage URL. (which is obviously not true)

    Can anyone answer my previous questions but also effectively give me the pro's and cons of both methodologies so that I can try and get to the "correct" method to follow.

    With IT resource being so low at the moment I will need a compelling argument to not use option 2 and I'm hoping that someone out there may be able to help (that said if option 1 really is not an issue then please say)

    With the new site on day 1, we will be building XML sitemaps etc and submitting these to Google/Yahoo in the appropriate manners to hopefully re-index the new site in it's new hierachy, I am just worried that option 2 will not only cause us to lose SERP's (which I believe it would do) but may actually cause further issues that would be a nightmare to mitigate at a later stage.

    Sorry to type so much - hope some of you experts will be able to give me some skilled objective viewpoints.


  2. Bagi Zoltán

    Bagi Zoltán Boss Cart consultant Webmaster

    Matt, I would suggest you to choose the version number one so would build a redirect for every indexed page. Depending on your previous site architecture you may solve this with more .htaccess files but can be arranged with only one as well, but I suppose that a longer single .htaccess would slow down a little the site.

    Why do I say that you should go with the version number one?

    Simply because that would be the most effective way to keep the existing rankings. You should size up the situation knowing the actual traffic statistic.
  3. Matt Byrne

    Matt Byrne New Member Webmaster

    301 Gateway issues


    Thank you for your response. I have posetd teh same thread a few times on differnt sections of the site - please excuse my ignorance as I am new to this and did not realise the protocol.

    Do you have an opinion in whether option 2 could be problematic as in some respects setting up a 301 redirect from hundreds of pages saying that all of them are effectively permanently redirected to a single homepage makes me think that Google may think that some form of spamming is going on. It looks a bit like a clumsy version of gateway pages in my rather un-informed view - do you have any thoughts on this?


  4. OldWelshGuy

    OldWelshGuy New Member Webmaster

    Matt, I agree with bagi with 100% conviction. BUT with the following caveat, you do NOT have to do it for all pages!

    This is what I suggest you do.

    1. Check your backlinks PROPERLY, using yahoo, altavista, MSn & Google webmaster tools.
    2. Identify your deep links (links pointing to inner pages)
    3. Identify which pages are ranking for terms that bring in traffic (using your server logs)
    4. Identify pages that are getting traffic landing on them regularly (this could be from emails, virals, pages on forums that are members only, popular bookmarked pages etc.
    5. Identify corresponding new pages for the above pages
    6. Set up 301 redirects in the htaccess for the affected pages.

    What you will have then achieved is to ensure that you do not send existing traffic to a lost page, therefor maximising it. You will also have told google which of your pages have moved, and which are no longer in existence. the new sitemap will mop up everything else!

    There is a simpler option however, in as much as you could set up a 301 redirect match between the two structures so that any request for one url string will be forwarded to the new url string.

    One last question,

    Where shall I send the invoice for this high quality advice LOL
  5. OldWelshGuy

    OldWelshGuy New Member Webmaster

    Nope, it looks like a rather classic version of bait and switch :(
  6. TheeCommerceConsultant

    TheeCommerceConsultant New Member Webmaster

    To be fair I have nothing more to add to OWG's quote, he is bang on the money, an excellent bit of advise, follow it.

    Additionally at the very least 301 catagory urls to new catagory urls products change so map them to the parent catagory unless you have well ranked individual products in which case map url to url.

    The sell to your boss is an easy one and it goes something like this.

    "Look mate I can spend a couple of days doing these 301's to let google know where it should look for our products / service or I can spend the next three months resubmitting site maps and praying getting back a top position again, its your call do you want any online business or is the company making enough to do without google?"

    Stitch in time saves 9.

    So if you dont get fired you will probably do the 301's which is THE thing to do when you change a site IMHO.


    p.s. disclaimer, if you speak to your boss like the above you will probably be fired or promoted, obviously edit the content according to how comfortable you feel :crazy:
  7. OldWelshGuy

    OldWelshGuy New Member Webmaster

    Made me smile :)
  8. seo_india

    seo_india New Member Webmaster

    You should do 301 redirect for your high ranking pages, while discarding others.

    You can trace your crawled links on Yahoo/MSN/Google for some of the high ranking pages.

    Along with this you can check their respective rankings.

    This will save whole lot of time. :dance2:
  9. E-Senses

    E-Senses New Member Webmaster

    Same situation here...

    Hi OWG, thank you for your piece of advice! it is worth it every penny!

    I have one question though:

    Currently I host my site at godaddy.com with a custom shopping cart, now I am switching to a new shopping cart called netsuite. So these are two completely different hostings. The difference between the existing and the new pages' urls is that with the existing shopping cart (godaddy) the url extension is .htm, but with the new shopping cart (netsuite) there's no extension for the urls (automatically generated). So urls will be different, and the product pages that currently are indexed with my .htm urls will be unaccesible.

    I need to do a 301 redirect on the old hosting even if the domain will now be pointing to the new hosting?

    I had the impression when I read your post that your solution was based on switching shopping carts but not switching hostings. Is that correct?

    Any help here will be very much appreciated!! Thank you!

  10. OldWelshGuy

    OldWelshGuy New Member Webmaster

    No you can do exactly the same when switching hosting as well. But when you switch hosting make shure you leave the old site up at the old address until googlebot is no longer visiting, else it will harm your rankings badly.

    You can also use mod rewrite to handle the file extensions. take a look at my website Internet Marketing Consultant | SEO Wales | Google Expert | Search Engine Optimisation Consultancy | Internet Marketing Consultancy | all the pages are displaying as .htm , but in fact they are all php pages using includes. The site was redesigned using php with includes, but they are rewritten to display php as htm so as far as the search engines are concerned there was no change in page urls :)
  11. OldWelshGuy

    OldWelshGuy New Member Webmaster

    the old url's and new urls are completely different lookign at that. you should however be able to sort out a 301 redirect match (assuming there is a structure to both old and new sites.

    With regard googlebot accessing the old hosting, this is where the difference between the internet, and the world wide web naming system come into force. WE use domain names for the world wide web (WWW), which the DNS servers then translate into IP addresses on the internet. Googlebot on the other hand, spiders by IP adress and location . So while the DNS servers might be updated for the www locations, the IP adresses will still be in databases on datacentres across the network. because of this, googlebot will keep hitting both the old and the new servers.

    If it hits your old IP and finds your site gone, you just lost some trust factor from google. So by leaving it at the old and new locations, you get a nice smooth transition with no loss of trust from Google.
    2 people like this.
  12. BenjArriola

    BenjArriola New Member Webmaster

    Considering your case E-senses, I would use some type of algorithmic redirect instead of mapping out each old URL you find indexed or has a backlink.

    Depending on the server-side language you have, the code will be different. Since I am more of a PHP guy, for your situation having this:

    old url: www[dot]mysite[dot]/products/item3
    new url: www[dot]mysite[dot]/products/a435

    That would simply be something like:

      if(str_pos($_SERVER[REQUEST_URI],"/products/") === 0){
        $productCode = explode("/",$_SERVER[REQUEST_URI]);
        // Create a database of all old URLs and new URLs
        // if that does not exist yet. If it can be drawn from 
        // the same database, then good.
        // Input the old code in $productCode[2]
        // And spit out the new one and assign to a variable like
        // $newProductCode
        header("HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently");
        header("Location: http://www.mysite.com/products/".$newProductCode);
    If you are using some other language, there should be some counterpart to this. If you are not a programmer by heart and has a hard time interpreting this. Find someone that can do this for you. If you have all old URLs in some archived format, text file, csv, Excel, or even the old site exist as saved static pages, I am sure there is a way to extract all of the old information and map it out to the new one and create smart 301 redirects so you can already forget about it once it's done.

    2 people like this.

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