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Established Website Update - Methodology

upgrading an old established site can be a pita, looking for some help!



12:24 am on Dec 31, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Hi, I have a site that is approx 8 years old. Very established, thousands of organic backlinks, dozens of DMOZ listings, etc.. About 5000 uniques per day.. That's the good part.

The domain name is a bit clunkly, and the link structure is all static and really old (frames, lots of old .html links, etc..)

What I'm trying to do:
Convert site to php/mysql, update content.
Re-do the entire link structure
Maybe even migrate to a new domain name.

don't want to lose keyword rankings after the update. There are so many old links I almost certainly can't get more than 10% to update.

1. set up an entirely new domain, change all of the old pages to blank "this page has moved", and have a link to the new page.

2. just like #1, but use existing domain.

3. Urghh... use mod rewrites to make the old URL's resolve to the new php/mysql driven pages. This will not break the old links, but will lock me into a future of dancing around a legacy structure.

Summary / Questions:
I'm guessing the only way to preserve all the rankings is to use the dreaded #3 solution above. I was hoping for any comments or suggestions for those of you who have been through this before. Thank you!


1:26 pm on Dec 31, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

As somebody who is in the midst of a domain move my only advice is: don't do it!

change the internals of the site any way you want to but keep the external URLs the same.

Redirects just aren't working at the moment.


5:16 pm on Dec 31, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I have done this a few times and I can tell you I still get errors on pages that existed 7 years ago (Yes, I have a site from 1996).

A few things to keep in mind:

- If you move pages, take the top 10/50 or 25% and put actualy redirects on them (302) to the right new page.

- You can run two domains into one website, I know Google doesn't like it, but...

- Expect loss in traffic and months to make it back up

- Make sure your 404 page is branded with navigation. Mine are basically the entire template with just the error for content.

- Contact the top 10% of the links to your site and see if you can get them to change.



9:03 pm on Dec 31, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Thanks for the comments.. I heard 302's are a recipie for google sandboxing, could anyone shed more light on this issue?

Damn, it sounds like I need to stick with the domain, and maybe even the old link structure.. WAAAAA.. I usually use mod rewrites to clean up a link structure, not keep it old and chaotic :(


12:53 am on Jan 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

You can have it exactly the way you want it so long as you are prepared for your organic traffic to disappear :)

Happy new year!


1:18 am on Jan 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member ken_b is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

I'd absolutely keep the current urls and domain name if at all possible.

The frames can be dealt with. I wouldn't let that stop me from making changes and dumping the frames.

The link structure can probably be modified/simplfied a lot with careful planning. You might have to add some intermediary pages to get the best link structure, but that's manageable.

If you are concerned about PR flow, then a bit more caution may be needed, but that can be managed.


5:15 pm on Jan 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

What has not been answered, since I'm considering the same (my site first went up at the end of 1995-beginning of 96), is HOW to make the conversion, migration, upgrade, and change to PHP/MySQL. The worries of loosing PR for a short time are nothing compared to the time savings I believe will come from upgrading the technology of the site.

But how do you make the conversion from a static html site to php powered, mySQL site?

I've been searching for three weeks on the net to find the process of taking HTML pages and pulling the content information out to put into a database. All I can find is how to get database info into a different database and how to manipulate the data once its in there.

Are there any shortcuts to get the HTML page content into a database form? To strip the unwanted code why retaining the content code?



9:13 am on Jan 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


I'm going to keep almost all of the links the same. I've already collapsed the frames, and with some lucky timing this was done right before the recent PR update, so it helped to consolidate the PR. In the end I'm not really concerned about PR, just want to keep the organic traffic coming in.

Also, the old static links have a somewhat consistant name convention which will allow me to go dynamic with mod rewrites and preserve the structure. I'll slowly start sculpting the lower traffic links to the "future" link structure and see how it goes.


Depending on your existing site finding an automagic solution may be more trouble than its worth. Perhaps design the database, and get a contractor to do some data entry for you.


10:02 am on Jan 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Very recently, I realized I had made a mistake in structuring a sub directory and wondered how to go about changing it without losing traffic or taking a ranking dive.

The three original URL's which had been incorrectly named were part of a photo directory and don't bring in any income, but they do receive lots of traffic and were ranking very well.

I thought about doing redirects but to be honest, I just couldn't be bothered. I just went ahead and changed them.

I literally just changed the urls and on one of the existing URL's which I kept, I wrote new content and then used the old content in a new URL.

I did this the day before Christmas. All three of the new URL's have been indexed and are in the exact same place in the rankings as they were previously. The existing url with new content has also been reindexed and included in the SERPS. No 301's ... no penalties, no nothing. All is as it was.

I have contacted those linking to those pages and asked them to switch and they have.

Google may not like it ... but they sure managed to handle those few small change very well without even a hiccup.

Why don't you try a few pages at a time and see what happens.


10:10 am on Jan 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Liane.. that is *really* interesting. On the changed pages, where there any external inbound links? If so, were they contributing to your rankings?

Thanks, I think I'll try it on a couple test pages.


12:07 pm on Jan 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Just to confirm Liane's experience. I reorganised a part of my site recently, and I found that the new pages were indexed within a couple of days.

I suppose it depends on how big an effect of being unfindable for two days is. I can imagine some sites where this would be a big issue. It wasn't for the part of the site that I amended.

Mind you, I did add redirection so that inbound links wouldn't be affected. But in this case it was pretty simple to do. Again, I can imagine parts of the site where this would be considerably more difficult.

You might find it easiest therefore to break up your site, conceptually, so as to use different "least effort" strategies in different places. There may be no point in putting in a lot of effort for the whole site when you might only need that amount of effort for certain key pages.


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