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301 to point to lower case URL - is it still needed?
c41lum




msg:4181161
 2:06 pm on Aug 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

Many Many moons ago (13 years to be precise) our in house developer developed our original site linking structure where we would CAPITALIZE the first letter of every word in our URLS so it would look good in the results i.e Product/Blue-Widget/Reviews. Looking back I know this was very stupid.

Then years later got hit with what we saw a duplicate content penalty and both lower case and are upper/lower URLS were being listed in G's index. He then talked us into to 301'ing lower case URLS to our upper/lower case URLS.

This did seem to fix the problem, but what I have noticed since the MayDay update is that the 301 redirects dont seem to pass through as much link juice anymore. Plus we some times end up accidentally internally linking to the 301 URLS ourself.

Is there any fix for this issue that wont really mess our site up or should I just grin and bear it with the upper/lower case URLS.

 

c41lum




msg:4181187
 2:39 pm on Aug 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

Could we just use the canonical tag. And make all URLS lower case.

conor




msg:4181190
 2:52 pm on Aug 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

This does indeed sound like an ideal case in which to use the Canonicall tag.

I assume that the "main" version of the url is now lower case? in which case you would identify the lower case version in the canonical tag.

c41lum




msg:4181200
 3:02 pm on Aug 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

Hi conor, thanks for the reply.

At the minute the main URL is still Upper/Lower.

What im thinking of doing is making all URLS lower then using the canonical to point to the lower URL.

PLUS: Just noticed that on some pages if you lower case the URL it doesn't 301 it just rights the NoIndex tag into the header. So in effect Google could be seeing NoIndex and Index depending on how the referral link is written.

conor




msg:4181343
 6:18 pm on Aug 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

We had a similar problem and applying the canonical tag did fix the issue. Our issue was some internal and external links were pointing to File.htm when the desired URL contained file.htm We added the canonical on all pages pointing to the lower case version. We never needed to 301 as it was on Windows

c41lum




msg:4181345
 6:23 pm on Aug 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

Thanks Conor for your feed back big help. Did you see a improvement in your positions after you did the change.

Planet13




msg:4181365
 6:50 pm on Aug 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

I have to ask one question:


...but what I have noticed since the MayDay update is that the 301 redirects dont seem to pass through as much link juice anymore...


Can anyone else confirm this?!?!?!

If this is true, it could explain a lot of the traffic loss for my site.

c41lum




msg:4181368
 6:54 pm on Aug 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

I cant confirm its just a hunch at the min, I will try and run a test to prove my theory over the next week.

conor




msg:4181702
 9:48 am on Aug 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

Google has stated previously that almost all of PR is Transfered by 301 but not all. Whether this percentage has changed after Mayday I cant comment.

Internal linking to 301 urls has never been a best practice - where we have caught and rectified this we have always seem benefit

We did see ranking improvements after we applied the canonical tag, but there was a 2 month lag. As other changes were being made it is hard to attribute the benefit directly but I am convinced it helped.

robdwoods




msg:4183227
 5:50 pm on Aug 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

My main site has tons of 301 redirects on it due to some poor architecture I inherited and later fixed. A significant portion of our links are 301 redirected and our rankings since Mayday have actually improved significantly. I don't think there has been any devaluation of 301's from Mayday, at least there are no signs of it on my site that has a lot of 301s in our link graph. We have more #1 and #2 rankings on competitive terms since Mayday than we have ever had.

We use the mixed case URLs as you do eg. www.example.com/Product-Category.aspx and 301 the all lower case versions to the mixed case version.

We both redirect non-canonical case versions to the case version used on the site and have implemented the canonical tag to capture any other non-standard URIs that may have been linked to.

We use 301s wherever there is a good chance that a URI may be linked to and the canonical tag is essentially used as a fall back to catch any that are odd enough that we wouldn't think to add a specific 301.

jdMorgan




msg:4183251
 6:12 pm on Aug 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

Using all-lowercase URLs is not inherently better or worse from a technical, but it is certainly simple to redirect mixed-case or mis-cased URLs to all-lowercase URLs using a single rule than it is to redirect each URL-case one at a time using separate rules.

Using mixed-case URLs is almost begging for errors in incoming links, due to the facts that people may not spot all the uppercase letters or remember to type them that way, and the fact that folks are lazy, and just may not bother with that shift key. So the trade-off between "good-looking URLs" and having to correct errors in inbound links has to be seriously considered.

If you do implement 301 redirects to fix casing (or any other errors), be sure that all the links to your pages from within your own site are correct and do not result in a 301 redirect. Redirects can be used to 'fix' bad links from other sites, or to speed search engines' re-indexing your URLs, but should never be relied on as part of your site's normal operation.

Note also that Apache servers are case-sensitive, while IIS servers are not.

Jim

c41lum




msg:4183376
 10:44 pm on Aug 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

Hi JD,

we have decided to bite the bullet and lower case our URLS and canonical the old upper/lower URLS to the new lower URLS.
We were internally linking to far too many 301 pages to do it manually.

zehrila




msg:4183389
 11:27 pm on Aug 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

c41lum, you did a good Job, i'm going through same issue and was wondering how to go about it. Please confirm if you see any loss or gain in serps, which is directly affected by this change.

indyank




msg:4184596
 4:19 am on Aug 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

I think canonicalization alone may not be good enough.You should be 301 redirecting the old upper/lower URLS to the new lower URLS, to pass on the link juice that the old urls might have received.I don't think canonicalization would help in passing on the link juice.It will just help in avoiding duplicate content by letting you specify the preferred url.

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