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301 Redirect

How is it interpreted?

     

Bobby

12:21 pm on Jun 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Now that I've finally figured out how to upload the .htaccess to the server I'm just aching to use it!

Here's my question, if anyone has experience with it let the info flow:

A client of mine has recently redesigned their web site, and a number of pages that were pulling in traffic now no longer exist.

What is the benefit to using a 301 redirect as opposed to just uploading the old page and placing a client side redirect like in javascript?

I don't know exactly how the 301 works, and I don't want to lose that optimization for those pages that no longer exist.

One more question assuming a 301 is the way to go, is it feasible to redirect 5 or 6 pages to the index page? My understanding (very limited mind you) is that a 301 says something to the effect of "this page has now moved here". If this is the case then wouldn't it be a mistake to remove the pages that no longer exist since they do no have identical pages in the new site?

jdMorgan

4:06 pm on Jun 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jdmorgan is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



> What is the benefit to using a 301 redirect as opposed to just uploading the old page and placing a client side redirect like in javascript?

Search engine robots don't execute JavaScript.

> I don't know exactly how the 301 works, and I don't want to lose that optimization for those pages that no longer exist.

If they are gone, they're gone, and so is your optimization. If you mean you don't want to lose the traffic, the PageRank, and the link-popularity, then a 301 will preserve all or most of that.

> One more question assuming a 301 is the way to go, is it feasible to redirect 5 or 6 pages to the index page? My understanding (very limited mind you) is that a 301 says something to the effect of "this page has now moved here". If this is the case then wouldn't it be a mistake to remove the pages that no longer exist since they do no have identical pages in the new site?

You should redirect to new pages that are relevant to the request for the old pages. If there is no feasible direct replacement, then maybe you've got a site map for that subject-section of the site that would be appropriate. If not, then providing some kind of resource that will help the user find what they wanted is the right thing to do.

It's not a very good idea to just outright delete pages that are getting traffic. Providing some kind of logical replacement page is better. If you have no other options, then redirecting to the home page is a last resort, but I prefer returning a short, apologetic explanatory page with a 410 response (use 404 for HTTP/1.0 requests, though) and a text link to my site map and home page. On this page, I also put a 15-to-20-second meta-refresh to the site map.

So the bottom line is to use 301 if you have a logical replacement, and 404/410 if not. This is the protocol defined by the HTTP [w3.org] specifications, and things work best of you follow those.

Jim

Bobby

1:05 pm on Jun 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



jdMorgan, thanks for your thoughtful response.

While it's true that search enigne robots don't execute JavaScript the old pages can remain on the server and pull in potential clients. The redirect in Javascript assures that they get to the "new" site rather than looking at the old pages left on the server.

Page Rank and Link Popularity have little importance in my view, what's important is that people who are searching for a particular service using a specific search string find the site. The old pages are placed well for those strings and the new ones are an unknown quantity.

Thanks for the tip about doing a 301 to a site map, that might be a good idea.

What I'm really trying to weigh up here is whether or not by doing a 301 to a "similar" page as the old one (though without the same content and tags) I would achieve top search engine rankings for the new page. If not then I think it's in my interest to leave the old page up on the server with a client side redirect.

Dijkgraaf

12:08 am on Jun 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Boby, the 301 redirect will also work for browsers, so they will end up on the new site as well.

Bobby

6:15 am on Jun 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Let me give you an example of what I am trying to determine, then perhaps we can figure out if doing a 301 is beneficial or not.

Let say I have a page called buggy.htm which is pulling in traffic for people searching for red winged flying buggy things at the north pole.

The new site no longer has this page, but has a page called bug.htm.

The new page (bug.htm) does not bring in as many people searching for red winged flying buggy things at the north pole because it focuses more on blue winged flying buggy things at the south pole, though some still do come in while searching for red winged flying buggy things at the north pole.

If I place a 301 from the old page pointing to the new page will it help bring in more traffic as before for the search red winged flying buggy things at the north pole.?

Reid

10:45 am on Jun 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



301 - this page has moved permanently

it would pass the PR to the new page - seasoned instantly but it would fall in the SERP's for north pole altogether eventually but rise in the SERP for South Pole, although it would probably hold steady for 'flying buggy things', as long as the new page is optimised as well as the old one for that phrase.

just my humble opinion.

Reid

10:56 am on Jun 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



oh ya and in BC canada we call those flying buggy things noseeum's (because they bite you but you no see um) cept in BC they're so big you can see um, but we still call them noseeum's anyway.

Dijkgraaf

10:57 am on Jun 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Trying to predict what search engines will do is like trying to predict the weather. Everyone has an opinion, but nobody knows for sure. It would probably vary from search engine to search engine, and all of the search engines techies are keeping their own secrets close to their chests. :-) I just try to minisise the ammount of page not found errors users and bots get, and if they do manage to get one I provide them with suggested links and a search facility so they can try and find what they are looking for.

jdMorgan

9:07 pm on Jun 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jdmorgan is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



> If I place a 301 from the old page pointing to the new page will it help bring in more traffic as before for the search red winged flying buggy things at the north pole.?

No, because you have removed the page. The page content is one of the factors that determines its ranking, with keywords in the URL playing only a minor part. So, you've removed the page's content and it therefore can't rank for the red-north variant basd on page content. The 301 will retain the PageRank passed to your original red-north page by the incoming links to the old URL, and the link-text used on those old backlinks will still make it possible for the new page to rank (although not as highly) for searches matching that link-text (which may or may not include the red-north keywords).

If you want to rank for "red winged flying buggy things at the north pole," then you should have a page about "red winged flying buggy things at the north pole."

Jim

Bobby

7:20 am on Jun 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



the link-text used on those old backlinks will still make it possible for the new page to rank

Thanks Jim, I hadn't considered this.

 

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