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Need advice on sweeping changes

 7:41 am on Jun 28, 2000 (gmt 0)

One of my clients just initiated sweeping changes to the page names on over half the website. The new pages are essentially the same content as the old ones, with only minor copy changes and of course the link names are changed. The old pages had some pretty good rank on Google, Inktomi, and DMOZ related engines, especially AOLSearch. Not quite so good on Alta Vista, but still getting traffic.

Since these name changes must be done, what is the best way to deal with the SEs? Should I leave the old pages on the server until the new pages show up in the Search Engine indexes? Would there be excessive risk in having so many duplicate pages?

I've never had an experience like this, and would value input from anyone who has.



 8:02 am on Jun 28, 2000 (gmt 0)

Hi tedster,
Going through three of these sessions myself on sites built by others.
At first, I took the view that it was important to keep the old pages with a click through (not auto redirect) to new pages.
Now, AV's spider came a visitin but did not yet follow the new links, but it just checked the old pages for a 404. Problem is, the old pages stuck (ranked badly). I guess I'll have to wait for a deep spider.
Anyway, the thinking now is to keep these pages & links up for the directories, but to remove the ones in the search engines. I'm contacting the directories to inform them of the updates and then removing the old pages when they are succesfully removed from the directories.
Unfortunately, at some point, the SE's are going to drop the old pages, but, I have a feeling it'll pass by, and, at differing times. This means that the impact on volume of traffic will change, but not take a significant nosedive.
On the subject of well ranked pages. I hold the view of leaving them until they nosedive.
I would like to think you are covered by most of the BIG SE's and directories and this should allow a smoother transition.
There is no easy answer, especially when the decision and action to change the page names is already made.
It is worth explaining the consequences of the name change - ie, additional work for you and changes to the SEs/directories will take time.
Here's to a smooth transition!


 2:27 pm on Jun 28, 2000 (gmt 0)

I had this problem when I took over a site that had no top ranking pages. After a couple of weeks promoting, 2 appeared in Magellan # 2 & 3. They were old defunct pages and went to a 404, I thought what a waste! and arranged to have a click link to the index. Another 2 weeks they appeared in Excite - same positions.
2 months later they disappeared from Excite (last week)One still remains in Magellan. So I think it's worth leaving them there till they die a natural death.


 4:27 pm on Jun 28, 2000 (gmt 0)

I gotta agree. If you need to move page urls within the same domain, make it a click through to the new page. Don't risk duplicates. They can really spot dupes these days with anti doorway fever.


 4:32 pm on Jun 28, 2000 (gmt 0)

I like framing the new page in the shell of the old page (1pixel blank frame at top), but do NOT resubmit the old url.

Also, on small pages, I pack all of the old code in the <noframes> tag.


 7:37 pm on Jun 28, 2000 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the ideas and insights.

On this site, the server is set to give all 404s a custom site map page. It seems to me that this practice, which is wonderful for the user, might be a problem with spiders. As I drop old pages, all the old URLs will come up as the same page, right? I'd better give this one a little more thought.


 7:42 pm on Jun 28, 2000 (gmt 0)

side-stepping the 404 is exactly why I like framing the new page --besides, you still get your page delivered in front of the eyeballs that are there now, which we tend to forget is the top priority of the site.

a framed page is pretty benign, too. some SEs might not like them, but you don't get banned for it, either.


 10:36 am on Jun 29, 2000 (gmt 0)

Tedster, that depends on how the server is setup to generate errors. If you remove the page and replace it with a 404 redirected page, that is ok - the spider/indexer will still see the 404. Doubtful they will spider or index the 404, but I do have 404's that rank well in spots :-)

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