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Google-friendly alternatives to 301 redirects?

Our hosting company does not allow access to htaccess

     
1:41 pm on Jun 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

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For one of our domains, our hosting company does not allow access to the htaccess file so we cannot do permanent redirects (which we wanted to do because we are positioned well in Google).

Are there any Google-friendly alternatives to redirects users from old to new pages (after a site redesign)?

Is meta http-equiv="refresh" now Google-friendly and will we eventually be able to delete the old pages?

Thanks,
Maynard.

5:26 pm on June 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Hi
A 301-free way?
Read on!
One of my sites used to have an HTTP refresh (time = 0) and Google handled it just fine.

What I do now is to create a page that has a redirection timeout of 5 seconds, has a message explaining why the visitor has received this page, and has a link to click on if the redirect fails.
Google sees that link.

I also use a META ROBOTS = FOLLOW, NOINDEX and it's not long before Google has found the new page and lost the old one. Then it can be deleted (unless someone outside your site has linked to it, of course, in which case leaving it there in perpetuity isn't a problem).
DerekH

5:43 pm on June 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

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>does not allow access to the htaccess file

Using a scripting language , PHP ASP et al you can add your own headers if available.

5:58 pm on June 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

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PHP 301's are really simple, and google handles them well. Search WebmasterWorld for some code, I've seen another post with some code.

--Mark

7:37 pm on June 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

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If you've got php enabled for your hosting then you could use:-

<?php

header( "HTTP/1.1 301" );
header( "Location: [domain.com...] );

?>

Where your old file was (and in the case of a directory, you could simply call this index.php and place it in there).

If you haven't got PHP enabled either, there's bound to be something similar in ASP that'll do it, and if you haven't got ASP then it's time to move host imo!

8:34 am on June 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the PHP tip, but the original page is oldpage.htm and has lots of links to it. If I put in PHP code then doesn't it have to change to oldpage.php and then all links (from other sites) will be broken?

I prefer the meta refresh solution: has it worked in Google for anyone else?

Thanks,
Maynard.

11:32 am on June 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Can you get your hosts to do /anything/? If so, get them to make it so .htm pages are parsed as if they are PHP. It's VERY easy to do, and your host will know how to do it:-

AddHandler application/x-httpd-php .php .htm

If not then I guess you'll have to use another non-301 method outlined above.

However, I personally would not be happy with such a restrictive host. I use complex mod_rewrites and carefully tweaked servers. The Devil is in the detail as they say, and never more so than when dealing with getting listed on Google. It can be the difference between making a living and not.

Good luck with it!

3:09 pm on June 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I had to install some redirects on a client's non-Apache site. I used <meta> refresh with a timeout of 0 in the header and a single plain <a href="****x.xxx"> link in the page <body> to the same new page. On the first pass, Google picked up the link to the new pages and updated the "content" of the original pages. After another month or so, the old pages were out of the index completely. The whole thing went as well as could be expected.

I discovered some months ago that Google was accepting <meta> refreshes with a timeout of 0 while checking out a site that was originally hosted on geocities where they obviously had no access to server-based solutions. While checking out the backlinks on the new location, I noticed some of the links shown for the new site were actually pointing to the original geocities URL. So, it seemed clear that Google was handling these like 301 redirects. That's what led me to feel comfortable enough to do it on a client's site.

3:56 pm on June 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

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You can use 302's without consequence, especially if you get some PR to the new domain. 302's can be accomplished with a Meta-refresh.
8:55 pm on June 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

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The 302 has been shown to cause problems in the past.

Last year when I moved a site I used the <meta name="robots" content="noindex,follow"> tag in the head section on every page of the old site, and made all the "internal" links on the old site point to the equivalent page over on the new site. I also made sure that the new site had a few incoming links from other sites too. Google delisted the old site about four weeks later, and relisted the new site the same day.

4:12 am on June 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

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g1smd: sorry, I don't understand the problem you explained? You had two sites listed at the same time, or 4 weeks with no sites listed?

301's used to drop you from the SERPs for a period of time but I believe they have fixed that.

3:39 pm on June 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

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The old site stayed listed for 4 weeks; and was at position #80 or so.

Then, one day, the old site disappeared from the SERPs and the new site appeared that same day.

The new site appeared at #1.

3:45 pm on June 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

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So just to get my bearings in this thread, is it a reasonable conclusion to say that adding a meta refresh with time=0 to each page is a safe non-server alternative to sending an HTTP 301?
4:16 pm on June 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

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So just to get my bearings in this thread, is it a reasonable conclusion to say that adding a meta refresh with time=0 to each page is a safe non-server alternative to sending an HTTP 301?

The old site stayed listed for 4 weeks; and was at position #80 or so.

Then, one day, the old site disappeared from the SERPs and the new site appeared that same day.

The new site appeared at #1.


Well, for my money, that all depends on whether or not the old site used to be at #1 before g1smd did his meta thingummy. If the old site was basically relegated from #1 to #80 for 4 weeks owing to this method, I would say that was a good reason not to do it.

I've never lost position when using 301's

8:39 pm on June 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

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The old site was always at #80, and had been at #80 for a while. It didn't have many incoming links (not sure where you managed to read anything about relegation into my previous post).

The new site had the same content as the old site, but with a few extra pages, and a few more incoming links including those links from the old site! The new site went in at #1 (and has stayed there).

I used plain HTML a href links from the old site to the new site, along with the <meta name="robots" content="noindex,follow"> tag.

.

I did not use, and I do not recommend the alternative <meta name="refresh" content="0; url=http://otherdomain.com/"> tag. Most search engine guidelines caution against using that method for several reasons (again, not sure why you thought that I had used that method as I did not mention it at all in any of the above posts).

10:37 pm on June 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I think you need to read it all again. You do use a meta thing... you say so yourself! And I said if your site used to be at #1. You see, your post was ambiguous, so I was just doing my best to tease the truth out.
10:56 pm on June 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I use the meta robots tag, but not the meta refresh tag that you quoted in your post. That quote was from someone elses message, and being directly above the quote of my post, I thought that maybe some people may have read them as being related posts when they aren't.

All clear in the end.

9:15 pm on June 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

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did not use, and I do not recommend the alternative <meta name="refresh" content="0; url=http://otherdomain.com/"> tag. Most search engine guidelines caution against using that method for several reasons (again, not sure why you thought that I had used that method as I did not mention it at all in any of the above posts).

One of my sites used a URL forwarder that used exactly that technique.
I was number one. The ISP went out of business and I changed ISPs, and I'm still number one.
I really don't see a problem with the meta refresh, and neither did Google - it followed it and handled, correctly, the fact that two different URLs had the same content.
DerekH
9:49 pm on June 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Well, there's this thread [webmasterworld.com] describing a major problem with meta-refresh "redirects" which may or may not be completely fixed.

A 301 redirect is the correct thing to do according to the HTTP/1.1 RFC. While some robots have or have had problems in the past, in the long term, the RFC will be followed.

Jim

7:40 am on June 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Agreeed. The best thing to do is the 301 redirect.

Where that isn't possible, the <meta name="robots" content="noindex,follow"> tag along with normal human-clickable <a href="http://www.thenewdomain.com/" title="go to our new site"> type links also works well.

I would avoid the <meta name="refresh" content="0; url=http://theotherdomain.com/"> completely.

10:44 am on June 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Excellent (variety of) advice. Thanks!

Maynard

 

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