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How to create a 301 permanent redirect

 10:05 am on Jul 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

I have taken over a website, which does rank fairly well for some keywords, for a complete rebuild which is going to be a complete change of content - still on the topic of the original site but different enough to require new page names, etc.

Is a 301 what I need to put in place? Does this mean I have to list all the pages to tell it to redirect to the home page? Can you specify different pages to go to different new pages?

Thanks in advance!



 11:15 am on Jul 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

Interesting posting as I'm just about to do a complete site rebuild and will be dropping some pages and could do with advice on this


 1:47 pm on Jul 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

> [...] list all the pages to tell it to redirect to the home page?

Do NOT do that. Instead, yes, you can

> [...] specify different [old] pages to go to different new pages?

Each important old URL should be redirected to a new equivalent-content URL. For those old URLs which have no equivalent-content replacement, return a 410-Gone (if possible) or let the URL go 404-Not Found. Your custom error pages for 410-Gone and 404-Not Found should then contain messages explaining that the content at the requested URL has been removed (410) or cannot be found (404).

These error pages should also contain links to your home page, your site map/table of contents, your category pages, and your site search facility (as applicable), in order to help the visitors find what they were looking for.

Your redirects will need to stay in place forever, or until the number and importance of inbound links to those old URLs dwindle to the point of being negligible.

Try to plan your new URLs so that they will not need to change again. Cool URIs don't change [w3.org].

Be aware that just because a filename changes does not mean that the URL needs to change. Modern servers can be configured to map any URL-path to almost any filepath in the server's filespace. And URLs and filenames are not the same thing; they are only associated by the action of the server itself, and that association mechanism is flexible.

How you implement redirects and/or change URL-to-filepath mapping depends on what type of server your site is hosted on, your technical proficiency, and your preferences. Redirects can be done using the mod_alias and mod_rewrite modules in Apache, using ISAPI Rewrite on Windows servers, or using scripted solutions on just about any server.



 1:56 pm on Jul 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

Thanks for that jdMorgan,

So just to clarify in my head, don't use a 301 at all - call all pages with similar content what they are on the old site and then for other pages just let them disappear and serve up a 404/410 page which contains the new site's navigation.

You say if possible to use the 410 page - how do you tell it to use that rather than the 404 then?


 2:18 pm on Jul 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

I didn't say that. I said
Each important old URL should be [301] redirected to a new equivalent-content URL.

If it is possible to retain the old URL and the old URL is well-linked on the Web, then by all means do so.

If keeping the old URL isn't possible, or if you end up with too many redirects (many hundreds or thousands), then consider returning a 410-Gone, or let the URLs go 404-Not Found if they are not among your most important ones.

Your error pages for 410-Gone and 404-Not Found should not just contain the site navigation. They should briefly but accurately explain "what just happened" to the visitor, and be as helpful as possible to guide the visitor to the content being sought. If an error page is poorly-written or unhelpful, you will likely lose that visitor.

Again, technical implementation depends on what server you're hosted on... not mentioned so far.



 2:46 pm on Jul 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

I think that until I have the new site completed and we know traffic levels etc, we will leave the old pages on the server so we can monitor what traffic is still coming in to the old pages once the SEs have crawled the new site and re-ranked it accordingly, then we can decide on what action needs to be taken for still popular old pages and redirect as is appropriate then.



 3:41 pm on Jul 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

You should be able to get the data that you need now, since what matters is the traffic/PageRank/LinkPopularity of the *old* URLs. Assuming that you have historical stats and/or log files for the old URls, this is an analysis project that can start now and proceed in parallel with the new site development. In fact, that historical data might even be useful as an *input* into the new site design...



 4:20 pm on Jul 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

Thanks, so much easier doing a new site from scratch with a different domain! LOL

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