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301-Redirects having different effects?

 6:39 pm on May 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

Hi, about 6 months ago, Slate Magazine has moved out of slate.msn.com to slate.com, and did a 301-redirect on a page by page bases (dynamically so anything you type under slate.msn.com would go to the corresponding URL in slate.com). Example: If you type in slate.msn.com/asdf, it would 301-redirect to slate.com/asdf.

I am seeming slate.msn.com still taking priority over slate.com, even with the 301 redirect after months. Even new articles under slate.com is showing up as slate.msn.com. Example: If you Google "slate lacrosse editor" (without quotes), the article that should show up for slate's result is showing up under msn's domain.

Shouldn't 301-redirects have the effect of letting the search engines know "This page/site is no longer here, go to the new site, give me the rankings/link pop I currently have, and DROP THE OLD URL"?

Please help.



 12:17 am on May 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

Hey Paul. Yes 301 redirect is the way to go when moving URL's unfortunately Google does not seem to be updating in general very fast right now. I think you just need to give it some more time.


 12:24 am on May 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

Use a HTTP header checker set to HTTP/1.1 and check that the response code really is "301" and not 200 or 302...


 3:03 am on May 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

Yes, I've checked it, and they're all 301's. Please help? It's been months, I don't think it's their "updating problems".


 3:12 am on May 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

Your confidence in Google's speed may be misplaced. In the past I have seen 301's take months to show their effect, even before the current issues showed up.


 3:22 am on May 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

Were all the articles removed off of the MSN servers? Sure looks like something google needs to look at.


 5:29 am on May 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

This may be a little off topic, but I read somewhere that it's bad to have a lot of 301's. What I am talking about is redirecting pages or entire subdirectories that have been moved or longer exist on your domain to pages or subdirectories with similar content on the same domain.

Seems to me that this would be benefical for everyone in that the customer will find what they were searching for or at least something very similar and the website would serve up a useful page instead of just a 404.

Right or Wrong?


 6:07 am on May 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

Using lots of 301s has been known to cause indexing problems - it's true. This is especially true if, over time, one redirect goes to another redirect, or an even longer chain. And if you are casual about 301's, you will tend to lose track of your situation and that WILL happen.

I've long been a supporter of solid site structure planning, and the quote from Tim Berners-Lee Cool URLs Don't Change [w3.org] comes to mind. Until just a few years ago, 301 redirects were not generally heard of -- they were esoteric server-geek stuff. Now it seems like everyone is jumping in and throwing them around like confetti. There's a reason that tech support at many web hosts doesn't know what you're talking about when you call up asking for a 301.

Yes, there are some real needs. Google's "canonical" confusion is one of them, IMO. A real need for a new domain name may be another. But a redirected url is something like a patched tire -- it's not really the healthiest situation and you want to avoid it if at all possible.

So I strongly advise NOT thinking of 301 as a major tool in the tool kit. They should be a rare and almost desperate measure.


 6:20 am on May 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

Thanks Tedster,

So would it just be better in the long run to let the 404's come up for the pages that have been changed or been removed? Maybe have a custom 404 page in place, that actually returns the 404 status code, that will help the site vistor go back and find what they are searching for?

BTW, we do have the 301 in place to redirect non-www to www


 7:38 am on May 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

Eight months ago I noticed that some of the pages for a site of mine went supplimental.

I check and the pages were mostly indexed under non-www.

So following the popular advice I did a 301 redirect so that only the www versions could be accessed.

My reward has been that about a month ago all pages have disapeared from the index.

I now have only the home/main page in the index.

Moral. What SHOULD work does not work in all cases where Google is concerned. Be very carefull of 301's I think they killed my site off!


 8:01 am on May 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

What I've been doing when urls are going to change is studying the server logs. If there's a lot of search traffic going to a given url that "must" change, then I will use a 301 redirect. But only then. For the rest of the urls, well I just let them go 404 and flush out of the index as Google sees fit.

My approach is not a universal one by far. I am very cautious because of some third degree burns in the past. So do as you feel you must -- but I felt like I needed to share what is working rather well for me. My approach has been especially good for sites that do get regular spidering. The dip in income that always seems to follow a site re-organization gets minimized.

Wheras using 301s anywhere and everywhere feels like holding on too tight -- and then those slippery SERP results just squeeze right out of my hands.


 8:59 am on May 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

Agreed Tedster. In my case though I just did a 301 from non-www to www, not individual pages.

Of course it goes without saying that other search engines have the site indexed just fine.


 2:08 pm on May 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

The original idea is "when you switch domains, do a 301-redirect on a page by page bases to your new domain", which I'm sure is a good practice and not "overdoing it". But it's been about 6 months. The weird thing is, even the NEW stories (came out this month) that're on slate.com is showing as slate.msn.com in Google SERPS.

Any ideas why?


 2:21 pm on May 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

I use a few 301 redirects to preserve the links that I had coming in to some subdomains I set up. I decided to stop using them andcoming in from those links transfer over to the redirected-to page? Unfortunately these days getting people to change link URLs and/or descriptions is fruitless.


 7:36 pm on May 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

Run Xenu LinkSleuth over the new site and let it generate a report. You must have links going back to the old site or something.

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