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Changing to ASP and Google SEO

 7:06 pm on Jul 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

I have an Ecommerce website that ranks very well for almost any keyword related to our business. I am considering going to a service that uses dynamic pages (an ASP format) Being a non-tec person this concerns me greatly since I am told even little changes in the site can change ranking. I have done some research on this topic and they talk about duplicate meta discriptions, content, page titles,etc, but not how such a change will affect a currently high ranking website. Any help would be greatly appreciated.



 8:14 pm on Jul 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

Marta unless it is a absolute must I would not change a thing. Old Texas saying "If it ain't broke why fix it"

Yes if you changed your prefex ending you would MOST likely suffer some ranking problems and then it might be a crap shoot if all of them come back or not.

Then you will have to 301 every page to the exact url in the new prefex.


 8:40 pm on Jul 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

You can automatically 301 (eg) .html pages to .asp using at worst the 404 interceptor (ie create a new script and assign it in place of the default 404 handler). Check for .html and substitute .asp, check if the file exists - it may not - and issue a 301 (page exists elsewhere) or 404 (not found).

It's quite reasonable to create a new page title, meta description etc automatically (I include these options as fields in my page-source database).

You MAY lose ranking. But then, google drops ranking and SERPs all the time for no reason at all that anyone can discern - read WebmasterWorld!

One thing I very strongly advise NOT doing: a customer of mine, against my advice, gave his new pages differnt names, so there was no correspondence between old and new. It was impossible to auto-redirect at all, even if the page content was the same (which mostly it wasn't). As far as I know his site still hasn't recovered 18 months later. Some people don't listen. :(

A better solution may be to use an Apache server that allows you to rename the file extensions on the fly. Alternatively, if you have control over your server you can specify that .html (whatever) is really ASP and should be parsed as such. IIS servers aren't particularly clever but that switch is possible.


 10:36 pm on Jul 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

There really ought to be away of hiding the extensions, and dstiles seems to have described one.

My site has gone from wordpress (because it has previously been a static section on a wordpress blog) to a custom script to modx without the urls changing.

IMHO any system that does not let you configure what the URLs look like sucks. What happens if it does if it work out and you move again to another platform that insists on its own extension? Two lots of redirects?


 7:17 am on Jul 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

If your existing urls are .htm or .html you can still keep them even if you use asp or asp.net - get isapi_rewrite installed on your server and you can keep your old urls.

As has been said above, changing urls is something to be very seriously considered - the older the site, the less you want to be considering this. Do a site search and check the Hot Topics on this subject as there are some very useful posts explaining the pros and cons.


 8:12 pm on Jul 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

graeme_p - generally a site is built with specific dynamic processors in mind - ASP, PHP etc - and the file extensions will reflect this.

If you move to another server it is likely you will move to a similar processor (php to php) so the file extensions will remain the same, and that includes htm/l if it was built for, say, PHP with that extension. The primary problem, I would have thought, would arise where the site was never built using a dynamic processor: ie pure html code. In that case you'd be best off changing the processor's default file extension.

fishfinger - you don't need rewrite to process htm/l extensions on ASP. The switch is in IIS under Configuration, where you can specify which DLL processes which file extension. This is on a site basis, so any site on a virtual server can be handled that way.

If your web host isn't willing to change that it's unlikely they will install isapi_rewrite, which requires more work and more money.


 8:46 pm on Jul 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

Thank you all very much for taking your time to help me decide how to handle this important move. As I mentioned, I am not a tec person so I am sending your answers to friends-in-the-know to help me better understand your solutions.


 9:36 am on Jul 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

you don't need rewrite to process htm/l extensions on ASP

thanks, interesting. I have only worked with two Windows sites ever, but if I do again I'll look into this.


 9:53 am on Jul 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

dstiles, I think it is good practice to hide those extensions anyway. What good does exposing them do? They do not tell users anything useful, so all they do is add a few characters to the URL.

Even on the last static site I had (although the static pages were generated by a script) I hid the extensions.


 5:28 pm on Jul 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

Yep, every new site I do now is extensionless as standard. It's geeky but it makes me happy to look at the urls!


 10:00 pm on Jul 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

It's not always possible to hide extensions. Converting them to htm/l is possible even on IIS but if you are stuck with IIS it's probably not easy, without rewrite, to be extension-less. I could be wrong - haven't delved that far into it. :)


 10:38 pm on Jul 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

I think your earlier post pretty much nailed the current situation about going extensionless on IIS. There are two practical options: either install ISAPI Rewrite, or use the sometimes risky 404 interceptor hack. And neither of those options are likely to be available on a commodity level IIS hosting service.

There is one other possibility, but I've not yet been able to play with it. That would be Microsoft's URL Rewrite Module for IIS7 [iis.net] (if you are up to version 7!). WARNING - that link causes my Opera browser to crash.

It's hopeful at least. Note that the url for that page itself is extensionless (http://www.iis.net/extensions/URLRewrite} - along with all the rest of the links on the page.


 11:02 pm on Jul 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

Hopefully I will never have to use IIS7. :)

If forced I may well take a year out and rebuild my extensive ASP library for PHP and go the Linux route. I still rue the day an MS acredited guy talked me into using ASP! :(


 11:04 pm on Jul 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

Sometimes for the long term good, you need to be bold and make the move.

However, whilst some sites make the change over ok, most get a smack from Google of some description whilst the new site gets re-indexed and settles down.

If you are real unlucky as we were on one of our sites (read my thread page rank 6 to zero in the members area) and re-directs dont get set up properly, you can have a real horror story on your hands and it can take that bit longer for it to sort itself out and you need to be onto it asap - However, it will sort itself out in the end.

At the end of the day i think its always worth improving user experience for the long term, but a long term view you do need to take.

If you depend on that level of traffic or cant afford to weather a potential storm if it falls back for a short period then you need to think hard about the change over. This is why some webmasters just wont change a thing and wont risk it.

Good Luck



 7:24 pm on Jul 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

dstiles, if you are serious, why not Mono? If not Mono there is Django (very nice), RoR and lots of others..


 9:09 pm on Jul 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

Not really the place to discuss this but I looked at Mono a while ago and it didn't seem suitable. None seems to run non-Net ASP. Plus I only got a new 2003 server a couple of months ago! If I do change it will be to Linux. Thanks for the suggestion, though. :)

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