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the advice seems to be that changing things like page names (URLs) and site structure (navigation) is hazardous with regard to search engine results if your pages are already indexed; but what about the long term affect?
We dont rely much on search engine results, but i can see that there are some fundamental changes that could be made to our site that could produce better SE results. The pages already indexed are old, and not 'optimised'. I'd like to optimise them, to the best of my ability, and perhaps lose good SE results in the short-term (tomorrow), but achieve better results down the track (6 months?).
For example, id like to change the navigation structure, aswell as some page names that arent keyword focused. I would in effect be creating some 'dead' links, but i assume these would only be short-term until my site is re-indexed?
Thinking 'long-term', would these changes be better for my site? Or would they effectively kill off the importance placed on my site by SEs for an indeterminable amount of time?
I'd appreciate your thoughts :)
a couple of suggestions: leave all the current pages as they are except add a redirect to the new page you are replacing it with. I do this with meta refresh zero, but others suggest a permanent redirect. By doing this, the previously established content is still there, it's just sending traffic to a page that is hopefully more relevant with the modifications, and which will end up ranked higher.
this can be a mess with a large site and once the new pages are getting traffic you may want to go back and pull the old pages to tidy up the site.
I would do as neuron said, use 301 permanent redirect to let the SE bots that your page has been permanently moved elsewhere.
Google is really quick at picking up 301's, but it's a different story [webmasterworld.com] for Yahoo and co. (Msg #3 from Tim which is the Yahoo! official here on WebmasterWorld).
Depending on the existing extension of your pages you have two solutions:
Hope this helps,
In fact i'm doing just that for a six-year old site right now, and it's not the first time, although the task becomes greater for each time - this time it's affecting almost the whole site which is a PITA but it's also the right thing to do, so i have to do it. It's a natural step in maintaining a site (ie. not just a collection of pages) as sites do develop, and their structure should reflect this.
The only reason that i do this right now is because of the user benefit - my users will notice this immediately, while the SE's will be slow at recognizing the changes. Otherwise, if i had thought about SE's only, i might have hesitated, as:
I have to tell you that right this moment both Google and Yahoo seems to have some problems in handling redirects properly. Also, Google has introduced some kind of a delay in the way it handles new pages and this definitely makes it more unattractive in the short term.
I do these things:
Ten step guide to re-organizing your site
1) first, create the new directories and the content for them.
2) upload it and correct the links on the site so that they point to the new URLs
3) then create "page moved" pages for the old URL's instructing users to change bookmarks and links
4) then setup 301 redirects in your .htaccess file from old -> new page URL
5) then, upload the "page moved" pages
6) observe SERP chaos (mainly wrong URLs) for a month or so, perhaps more
7) note that your previously great PR pages are now white or low for a while
8) remove the 301 redirects after a few months, so that your users will see the pages from (5) and hence get prompted to change their links
9) make sure that the important SE's have shown the right URLs in the SERPS for some time before (8)
10) Don't panic and redo stuff because of (6) and (7) - make a firm decision and stick to it
You could omit steps (3), (5), and (8) but you will not be able to avoid (6) and (7). Step (10) is essential.
Also, if you do (5) before (4) you will risk that some SERPS will show a "page moved" message for a long time (or whatever the title of your moved page-page is). The crawler could be visiting you just as you upload the pages. Right now, i do have #1 rankings for some keywords with a "page moved" page because i accidently did it the other way round for one directory on the site in question. (This will be corrected, however, as i now have the 301's in place. I expect a month or so with the wrong snippet+url in SERPS)
You might find more info in this thread: Site Change of URL [webmasterworld.com] - i've written about a few different (closely related) issues there.
[edited by: pageoneresults at 10:52 am (utc) on May 11, 2004]
[edit reason] Removed URI Reference - Please refer to TOS [/edit]
Easiest solution is to change providers NOW! Trust me, the day will come that you don't want to be on a windoze server anymore. Perhaps when the next worm comes around in a few weeks...
Second, even for windoze there is Apache. And Apache allows .htaccess. So I have to conclude that your provider does not even use the most used web server software there is (i.e. Apache with now about 70 per cent market share) but some other software. Again, change providers NOW! Well, even other web servers have the possibility to somehow send raw headers.
And if your ISP at least allows PHP on their servers it will be as easy as replacing your current pages with a script that outputs these two lines:
header("HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently");
And you're done! Oh, if your original pages weren't PHP to begin with you may need to convince your web server to treat whatever file extension they were as if they are PHP scripts.
[edited by: pageoneresults at 10:52 am (utc) on May 11, 2004]
[edit reason] Examplified URI [/edit]
Generally correct. If you have a page stuffed with nice little keywords for a search engine to pick up and after getting to top rankings you introduce a redirect to get your site visitors to another page, that is spamming.
But to let your site visitors (and search engines) know that a previously found here page has moved to over there is not only okay, but good practice. It stops people running into broken links and helps understand search engines that the page still exists, but has "Moved Permanently". No spamming.
I just saw some site that's had top rankings for years do that with a change in file naming one on one from .htm to .shtml. They're using meta-refresh and they've disappeared altogether from Google for all of those pages and the homepage. It's only a matter of time 'til Yahoo catches it as well.
How do I do the url redirects with Windows?
You will need to have your host install a third party ISAPI filter. I recommend ISAPI_Rewrite.
Once your host has installed the global files, they will then drop an httpd.ini file in your local root directory. That file will contain all the instructions for redirecting from old to new. The lines within that file might look like this...
RewriteRule /old-page.asp http://www.example.com/new-page.asp [I,O,RP]
P.S. Your host will need to be familiar with Regular Expressions as they will probably be the ones who need to do the rewrite for you. Or, you can always hire a third party who has experience with ISAPI filters and they can configure an ini for you which can then be uploaded to your root.
I don't know if it's just me that's lucky, but with Google i see these changes (301 redirects) picked up really fast at the moment. And done right too. I have seen the URL being changed in SERPS in less than five days.
Still, it's not a general rule. I think it will take longer time for very deep pages or low PR pages (pages that are not so often spidered).
I just changed a site around the lazy way. I removed the links from the homepage and put them on a page one click away from home.
No redirects or anything wise mentioned in this thread.
I then lost 2500 pages from that site in the google index.
I guess I now believe in myths.
i asked my host about 301 redirects, and they replied saying they "do not support customer error documents via IIS"
what does that mean? i read through that thread... am i missing something? Asking the wrong thing?
Sniffer, you are asking the right thing, your host seems to be missing a clue or two.
Search WW [webmasterworld.com] for "301 redirect IIS" and you will find a lot of information here.
Sniffer & Girish
If your host is unable/unwilling to do this (redirects) for you, you could use an ASP script similar to the one posted in msg 2 of this thread. [webmasterworld.com] Or you could consider moving your site to a more helpful host. HTH
<%@ Language=VBScript %>
Response.Status="301 Moved Permanently"
Response.AddHeader "Location", "http://www.sitename.com/page.asp"
<%@Page Language="C#" Debug="True"%>
private void Page_Load(object sender, System.EventArgs e)
Response.Status = "301 Moved Permanently";
Hope it helps
[edited by: pageoneresults at 12:55 am (utc) on May 13, 2004]
[edit reason] Removed URI Specifics - Please Refer to TOS [/edit]
Mozart is right. Redirecting is not against guidelines, only some special types of redirects are against the guidelines.
You have a good ranking page about apples. You redirect that page to another page that is really about "widget sales", but only if the visitor is not the Googlebot. So, people see an apple page in the SE listings, but the page they see when they click on the link is a widget sales page in stead. That is the type of redirects that the SE's don't like.
You still have a good ranking page about apples. You move that page from the section "food" to a new section about "fruit". It's the same page, it's just moved to another URL. That is not against any guidelines - it is perfectly okay with the SE guidelines to do that.
Your company changes name from "food-co" to "fruit-co". For that reason the website URL and name needs to be changed as well, so you move all your pages to the new domain and redirect from "food-co.com" to "fruit-co.com". That is also perfectly okay with the SE guidelines.