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Google Question - Changing File Names

Should I change my filenames...

     
1:11 pm on Aug 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Hopefully some wise Google Guru out there will be able to comment on my dilema...

... 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

OR

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?)

5:33 pm on Aug 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

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If your files are being spidered OK at the moment then changing the file names is likely to lead to a big drop in traffic for a few months.

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.

5:38 pm on Aug 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Changing your file names, or redirecting old.html -> new.html is likely to murder your G traffic for several months, depending on your page rank and the diversity of your inbound links.
8:54 am on Aug 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the comments guys, our G traffic has actually been murdered already, we've lost approx 80-90% with the July 22nd post bourbon update :(

Thanks again, I have something to consider now.

9:30 am on Aug 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

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We've lost 80% of traffic by simply changing filenames from mixed uppercase/lowercase to lowercase only. It took us three months to come back.

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.

2:32 pm on Aug 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Speaking of changing filenames, what if you change filenames + launch a brand new redesigned website at the same time? How will Google react?
4:42 pm on Aug 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Last month I changed domain names on one small site. 3 months old, PR 0, low traffic, so nothing to lose.

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.

5:36 pm on Aug 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Been there. Done that, and it is still screwed up, since February. What's in the index is a hodgepodge of old and new pages. The old ones seem to never drop out. Only 30% of the new ones are in. Tried the removal tool. Tried sitemaps. Still having massive problems. I wouldn't recommend going this route again unless the site has really tanked. It is taking G forever to straighten out the mess.
7:06 am on Aug 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

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We've only tanked for a few weeks, but so not sure how long it will take to get back our rankings.

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

10:43 am on Aug 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I have a similar question. I have 2 backlinks from Dmoz to one of my page and few other backlinks too and I want to rename that page due to some obvious reasons. What is the best I can do so that I can have a bit affect of those back links on my new page. All this is in my single site only.
12:50 pm on Aug 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

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If you move the page (even with a 301 redirect), DMOZ's robozilla broken link checker will find it and automatically pull it for re-review.

Then you will have to wait until an editor eventually gets it (which could be months), and they may very well choose not to include it.

Don't do it.

3:15 pm on Aug 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Hmmmm PatrickDeese, that makes real sense. I am most likely to be clicked out as I am already there once for my home page. Also my new links is the similar content but in more depth this time. Thanks a lot.
6:57 pm on Aug 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I changed file names, and launched a brand new designed website, despite google. I figured that I design websites for people and not the Google search engine. I am now #3 for my keyword, with a lot of broken links out there. So be it. But we should develope sites that are better. Its the only way to be better off in the long.
 

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