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... I have been hit hard by the July 22nd update and one of the courses of action I am considering is a change to all of my file names (my site is large 50k+ pages) to make them more search engine friendly.
... My question is, should I do this, and what would be the best way to go about it?
I am considering...
1) Regenerating all of the files with the different names, and putting a redirect from the old files to the new ones
2) Regenerating all of the files with the different names, and running both new and old file names alongside each other (duplicate content issues maybe - I could exclude google from the old filenames?)
I had a forum that wasn't being spidered at all. I did a mod-rewrite. 2 months on and 75% of page requests are from robots. They are seeing the new pages but I think they are still suspicious of them. I'm expecting to see rewards, but not for a few more months.
If your traffic is already at the bottom it might be a good time to change filenames. However: Google might have crawled you again and maybe you are ready to bounce back on top with the next major update. If you change filenames now, maybe you'll loose the chance to bounce back.
If you're going to change filenames, use 301 redirects from old to new filenames.
IMHO it is much more important to solve all problems related to duplicate content. If you already did that and if you like to take the risk, go ahead.
Maybe a cleaned up site with new filenames will come back better than ever.
The site was duplicated completely on the new domain.
I set up 301 redirects on all except the root in .htaccess
On the old root index I put up a notice with a 20 second delayed redirect to the new site.
I suspect a site-wide 301 would have been better SEO, but I really feel it's spammy to type in one URL and land on another. I feel like I owe my visitors an explanation as to why website "B" shows up when they load website "A".
Amusingly enough, the original site got PR1 as soon as I launched the new domain. It is still sitting at PR1, the new domain is 3 weeks later still at PR0, but with plenty of spidering going on. It's indexed in G after about two weeks and seems to be getting about half the SE referals it had been.
Don't think I would have done this so glibly with a "good" site.
I have since changed things on the page, using headers (H1, 2, 3), changing the title content, and exchanged links throughout my site with a directory which deals with my site's genre (all the links from them go to a different page, all of my links to them go to the same page, with a different seach field... i.e. www.directorysite.com/search.asp?term) - This is the one thing I am worried about - the effect of so many new links may have flagged me again! :( Aaarrgghhh! lol