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Question: If I use an .htaccess 301, to redirect ALL misdirected URLs to the new page's sitemap, how likely is it that the SERPS will be affected? I am trying to avoid doing 150 separate lines of redirection.
Thanks for any insight
Over time, as the new page URLs accrue their own new backlinks and pagerank, this effect will fade. This might take a month, or it might take a year -- only the search engines can determine that.
If this were my site, in order of preference, I would:
1) Never change any URLs [w3.org] which have been published on the Web (filename and filepath changes inside the server do not require URLs to change).
2) Design a new URL architecture for the site to prevent the need for any future URL changes, and implement that now -- In essence, "taking the hit" once and for all.
3) Write and install the 150 redirects.
The fact that you think that you need 150 different redirect directives is a sign that the URL-structure of this site was not originally 'designed' for longevity. If it had been, it would be possible to do all of the redirects with one or only a handful of redirect directives. In fact, with a well-designed system of URLs, it would not be necessary to redirect at all.
If the URLs are not well-architected, I would address that problem now, and go with extensionless and well-designed URLs so that product and company expansion and changes, and server-side technology changes (e.g. scripting languages, shopping cart changes) are never again likely to affect your URLs.
thank you for your excellent insight. Just to make sure I understand the ramifications: The old shopping cart system was ShopSite. The new one is Xcart.
Let's say one of the old Google search reaults is for this product:
The new category level in X-cart would look something like this:
[mysite.com...] to see the same number of corresponding products.
Natch, there are a score of backlinks to thye former URL that I understand will be eradicated (of course, traffic will be redirected, but the value of the backlink will be lost).
How, if at all, is it possible when upgrading to a new shopping cart system with its own unique set of URLs to mimick the URL structure so as to maintain the URL architecture.
It also sounds like, before I go live, I might want to look into an X-cart mod that simplified those URLs to a VERY simple, extensionless system.
False: The pagerank/link-popularity value of a back-link is passed (after some time) through a 301-Moved Permanently redirect from the old URL to the new URL. This is why I said your sitemap page would benefit if you ppointed all old links to it in my post above.
The best way to transition from one set of URLs to an incompatible set of new URLs is to use a database-based scripted approach. Two common methods are:
1) Recognize requests for all old-format links, and rewrite those requests to a script --either your main script or a custom script) which looks up the new URL in your database (main database or custom database) using the old URL as the key, and then redirects to the new URL.
2) Use a mod_rewrite RewriteMap to call a custom script which looks up the new URL in your database (main database or custom database) using the old URL as the key, and then redirects to the new URL.
Which of these methods you prefer depends on what languages you prefer to code in, whether you prefer centralized URL management or prefer to make this a 'one-time' solution, whether you consider it 'easy' to customize your existing scripts (considering that customizations done to off-the-shelf scripts will need to be re-done every time those scripts are updated), an whether the 'cart' database structure is flexible enough to allow you to add URL redirection data records to it.