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You're help and experience is just great. I've burned quite some time today reading a ton of Google posts.
Background: I have recently redesigned a site. Now it's completely database-driven. It's a bookstore w/ character building children's books broken up into about 25 categories. I've been careful for SE's other than Google NOT to have URLs like?ID=123's all over the place. All of the pages are referecning a directory. (/mens_books/)
1. I noticed earlier this month that about 5-6 of the pages were indexed and all were already shownig up in Google in #1 and #2 positions. (The old static site had tons of links already). Will the old .htm pages just eventually drop out of Google? I have the ERROR 404 page redirecting using IIS to the site summary page w/ a search feature. Will Google eventually know that those old pages aren't there if I do that? I really don't want those floating around because the Titles/Descriptions displayed in search results just suck.
2. Most of my competition uses staic HTML pages and have individual pages for each book with the page title the title of the book. Therefore they rank better when users search for a specific book. My pages are coming up in results but down the page (or on page 2) for specific titles. I've created a "View All Titles" page that now links into a "Book Details" page. The Title and Description are now coming out of the database and the URL is /details.asp?ID=54.
My question: Will Goolge typically index all of these "pages"? When you click "View All Titles" it's essentially a links page w/ about 400 links to all of the books broken up by category. Will this hurt me? I mean, they are all going to a page on the same site.
I hope this makes sense! My goal is to have not only my directory pages, but the individual products indexed.
Please keep in mind that not everyone has the ability to use 301 redirects.
Case 1 - I'm doing some contracting work at a Fortune 100 company where they use iplanet instead of Apache because of the availability of a support contract. (It's my understanding that a lot of the bigger companies use iplanet instead of Apache for this same reason.) The middleware group there has told me that Iplanet has a limitation of adding URL forwarding only to web sites with home pages in the same server as the iplanet web-server. (They confirmed this with iplanet support.) Iplanet has a screen to use for forwarding that has the server names hard coded into the to and from forwarding fields, so we can't change them.
So for one of the sites I work on there, their middleware group has not been able to find a way to use a server level redirect. We are using a HTML refresh instead, which is causing a loss of page rank. :(
Case 2 - People who have web sites on freebie or cheap web space don't have the ability to use Apache commands. I'm moving a PR6 site with 500+ links from a cheapie web host to a real web space with its own domain name. (I understand I'm an idiot for not moving it long before it got 500 links, but that is beside the point.) The cheapie provider doesn't allow forwarding and has advised me to use an HTML redirect instead.
The old site was content heavy and had quote a few DMOZ links, none of which have been updated after 3 weeks. I don't know when, or if, they ever will be, based on the stories I hear about the DMOZ backlog. :(
I have one page at each of the old pages with a notice that the page has moved and a link to the new page (about 50 pages). I'm hoping that this won't trigger any spam filters as I'm not intending to do anything tricky. But it's going to be a long time before I get all of those links moved pointing to the new site, so I hate to not have forwarding pages in the interim.
If you have any suggestions of better ways to do the forwarding in the above cases to keep Google happy I'd love to hear about them. I understand 301 redirects are best but they just aren't options for me in the cases above.
I'd be happy to hear any suggestions on how to get around this problem if anyone else has run into this before.