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Passing PageRank from multiple old pages to a single new one

2:50 pm on Jun 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I've got a situation that I've read about in the past and wanted to see if there was an updated consensus surrounding the current best practice.

I have a website whose URI structure is changing. Sounds like a classic case i know, here are the details of the old and new.

The old:
Has a structure like http://www.example.com/category/page.html where there are three 'categories'. Although, within each category, the same page.html actually exists (scream 'duplicate content' here). So, in effect here are three seperate pages that are about 95% (or more) the exact same content/structure/meta/etc and each resides at the following URLs

The New:
Pages are simply:

Normally I would just 301 one of the three old pages to the new page (by investigating BLs, Page Rank, etc to determine which is, in fact, the best) and 404 the others. Although each page is listed in G and are all PR5.

Now, I don't put too much faith in PR and am still leaning toward 301-ing the best of the three and 404-ing the rest, but I'm thinking why not 301 all of them to the new page? Maybe becuase, they old urls will all resolve to the new one and once google has updated their index, there will actually be three identical pages in their index...which means they would kick out two...and hopefully not penalize the site for dupe content. Although, from what I gather, G will just de-index the duplicates and no other penalties will result from such.

If anyone has any comments, experience, etc that could help me decide the best approach it would be appreciated. 301 one and 404 the other two OR 301 all three?

btw, I know there are a couple schools of thought on the best way to migrate to a new uri structure. In general, one side saying 301 everything all at once and the other saying 301 your better pages first (higher traffic, higher ranking pages), then after they take in G, 301 the rest (the lesser value and ranking pages). I'm not worried about this aspect, just 301-ing the duplicates to one new page.


7:20 pm on June 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

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

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If Google shows them all as PR5, then I would probably set a 301 redirect for all three urls. Yes, some of those PR numbers may be wonky, but which ones? Not worth my time to try to uncover the mystery - I'd just do the redirects.
9:08 pm on June 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

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ya, i've pretty much settled on that option. Makes the most sense for a number of reasons. I'd suspect, even if something 'bad' were to happen, it would be minor by comparison to other penalties G hands out....and wouldn't be to hard to fix (or even recover).

thanks for the second opinion tedster..helps me out :)