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Combining multiple pages into one single page - SEO best practices
shaunm




msg:4629253
 11:16 am on Dec 10, 2013 (gmt 0)

Hi All,

So we are going through the site-wide template change. The previous template used to have the main product page and several feature pages such as

example.com/product.aspx - Main
example.com/product/feature1
example.com/product/feature2...5

All these different products have almost 5-10 feature pages targeting different keywords pertaining to the main product. All these pages get backlink from various external websites too.

Now, the new template change brings all of them in a single page such as

example.com/product.aspx
Main Content
Feature1 - Content that slides down.
Feature2 - Content that slides down.

They are not going to any other URLs but all the contents stuffed into a single page which makes it a HUGE content.

It cannot be reverted back.

My concerns with the changes are:
1. The traffic will go down drastically since we are combining all the pages into one. These feature pages after the redirect, will no longer available, so eventually we are cutting down on the traffic.

What are the other problems that can pop up with this process and that I need to be ready for?

This is what I'm doing currently.
1. Before implementing the new template design, put a canonical tag in the feature pages to the main product page.
2. Once the new template is live, redirect those feature pages to this new template.

If the new template goes live before putting a canonical in the features will get me under duplicate issues right? Since the feature pages have the same content as this new template page. And that the feature pages are still available in Google's index but not through the site navigation.

Please give me some input on some of the best SEO practices I can follow here.

Thanks a alot!

 

aakk9999




msg:4629279
 12:44 pm on Dec 10, 2013 (gmt 0)

This is what I'm doing currently.
1. Before implementing the new template design, put a canonical tag in the feature pages to the main product page.


Am I understanding this correctly that the canonical on the feature pages is something you have introduced now, prior to redesign? If so why?

I would not do this for several reasons:

1) Why give Google one change that will exist short term, just to change it again soon?

2) As you have not yet combined the pages, the canonical may not be the right thing to do anyway as you are in effect telling Google to forget about the content on Featured pages, just to bring it back later on when you combine the pages.

What you should do is: at the same time when the template goes live, you should also implement redirects from the Feature URLs to the Main Content URL.

In this case you will not have duplicate content issue - apart perhaps in the very small window and only in cases where Google crawled Main Content page that now has Feature content first, but has not yet crawled Feature URLs to see the redirect. I have never seen this short period of duplication to be a problem.

aristotle




msg:4629421
 10:08 pm on Dec 10, 2013 (gmt 0)

i wonder if you could re-direct each feature page to the specific section of the new page that has the same content. Like for example. redirect the old feature1 page to a marker <a name="Feature1">&nbsp;</a> at the start of the feature1 section on the new page, etc

shaunm




msg:4629560
 6:54 am on Dec 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

Thanks @aakk9999

Am I understanding this correctly that the canonical on the feature pages is something you have introduced now, prior to redesign? If so why?

Why give Google one change that will exist short term, just to change it again soon?

I'm sorry that I wasn't clear or may be I was confused :-)

So, I don't need a canonical in my case at all, just a redirect will work right? And I should make sure that both the redesign page and the redirect goes live together, correct?

Thanks @aristotle

i wonder if you could re-direct each feature page to the specific section of the new page


That's something new for me and looks interesting. Can you possibly redirect an URL to a specific section of a page? What method is used for this redirect? Can we do that in a .Net site?

Thank again :-)

aristotle




msg:4629659
 1:30 pm on Dec 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

Can you possibly redirect an URL to a specific section of a page? What method is used for this redirect? Can we do that in a .Net site?

I mentioned this as something you might investigate. I know that you can link to a specific section of a page. But I don't have enough knowledge to know how to do it with a redirect, or if it even can be done.

aakk9999




msg:4629678
 2:21 pm on Dec 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

So, I don't need a canonical in my case at all, just a redirect will work right? And I should make sure that both the redesign page and the redirect goes live together, correct?

Yes, this is correct.

I know that you can link to a specific section of a page. But I don't have enough knowledge to know how to do it with a redirect, or if it even can be done.

Apparently you should be able to include fragment in Location: headers of your 301 Response, but I have not tried this.

Handling of fragment identifiers in redirected URLs
http://www.w3.org/Protocols/HTTP/Fragment/draft-bos-http-redirect-00.txt [w3.org]

The HTTP 1.1 protocol[HTTP] contains a facility whereby servers can inform clients that the resource they requested is not available at the requested address, but at some other. The server sends back a status code such as 301 or 302 and the correct URI of the resource.

Clients then typically issue a new request, to the same or to a different server, with the new URI.URIs may contain a fragment identifier, indicated by a # (hash mark) in the URI[URI]. For example

http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-xml-names#NT-NCName

A client that is retrieving this fragment will ask a server for the resource "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-xml-names" and will then locate the fragment "NT-NCName" in that resource. It depends on the client and on the type of the resource what is done with the fragment. A browser displaying an HTML[HTML] page usually scrolls the view port so that the indicated fragment is at the top.


Based on the above, you should be able to set the redirect location as:

Location: http://www.example.com/target-page#page-fragment

shaunm




msg:4629685
 2:34 pm on Dec 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

Thank you both once again :-)

But I'm little hesitant that

Based on the above, you should be able to set the redirect location as:

Location: http://www.example.com/target-page#page-fragment


Since this is not an actual page, will the link juice and all the link authority things will passed on to this new page?!

So,
example.com/old-page redirects to example.com/new-page#page-fragment

whereas the actual physical page is example.com/new-page

Thanks for the clarification.

aakk9999




msg:4629689
 2:52 pm on Dec 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

The page that will get juice is example.com/new-page (fragment does not make "new page", it is just a "bookmark" within the page. So the link authority will be passed to example.com/new-page)

For example, if you are merging features 1-5 to a product page, then you would have:

- current product page URL example.com/product.aspx
- to this current example.com/product.aspx page you add content from the 5 features pages you are now merging
- within html of the example.com/product.aspx, you create a unique id at the first element (presumably heading) of the each of the featured pages' content that you are now merging into existing product page. And you set up redirects so that:

example.com/product/feature1 redirects to example.com/product.aspx#feature1
example.com/product/feature2 redirects to example.com/product.aspx#feature2

and so on, for other old feature pages.

As I said, I have not tried this. But I think aristotle's idea is a very good one.

shaunm




msg:4630423
 1:46 pm on Dec 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

Thank you so much, now I'm clear :-)

Could you also please help me with the following questions?

1. Will a redirect is always enough or we should also think about identifying the external websites that links to these redirected pages and request the webmasters to replace the links with the new destinations? Is it suggested/recommend or mandatory?

2. How long before a redirected URL vanish from Google's index, until its next crawl?

3. Since we are merging all these pages into single redesigned pages the traffic will definitely go down right?

4. These different feature pages were targeting different low priority keywords. With this merge I cannot possibly target them anymore right? Even though the content for them available, it's a single page. So a page cannot be targeted with more than 2 keywords right?

What is best advised in my situation?

Once again a big thank :-)

aakk9999




msg:4630430
 2:09 pm on Dec 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

1. Will a redirect is always enough or we should also think about identifying the external websites that links to these redirected pages and request the webmasters to replace the links with the new destinations? Is it suggested/recommend or mandatory?
Yes, it is a good idea to contact external websites since redirect do lose approx 15% of the link juice (according to Matt Cutts)

2. How long before a redirected URL vanish from Google's index, until its next crawl?
Not necessarily. Google may show the old URL for some time even though it has crawled the old page and seen the redirect. It is almost as it wants to crawl it a few times before it drops the old page. From my experience it usually drops the old page within the 2 weeks of crawling the old page and seeing the redirect, bt it may take the time to crawl all these old pages, which also depends on the number of pages redirected. But it usually settles within a few months.

3. Since we are merging all these pages into single redesigned pages the traffic will definitely go down right?
Not necessarily. This will depend on whether the merged product page will rank for keywords the individual feature pages were ranking for. But it could also go the other way - that merging five pages into one strengthens the product page so that it starts to rank for more competitive term, driving more traffic.

4. These different feature pages were targeting different low priority keywords. With this merge I cannot possibly target them anymore right? Even though the content for them available, it's a single page. So a page cannot be targeted with more than 2 keywords right?
It depends how far apart these keywords were. If the long tail was just a variation of the main keyword, it is possible that the main page ranks for it too.


What I would do in your situation is to merge perhaps 10 products and follow what happens. Before the merge do a detailed ranking/traffic/conversions check for these 10 products (adding up metrics for the main page and all their feature pages). Then do the merge and follow what happens to traffic/ranking/conversion of these 10 merged pages.

Then decide.

It is important also to know that merge all / leave all separate are not the only two options you may want to explore. I do not know what your features are, but you could theoretically also merge 3 feature pages into main page and leave 2 as feature pages, so it is worth looking at all possibilities.

shaunm




msg:4631066
 8:55 am on Dec 16, 2013 (gmt 0)

Thank you so much for all your kind help :-)

Much appreciated!

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