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We are considering changing our current dynamic pages into static html ones for a variety of reasons. All content on the page will be identical, it is just the urls that are changing.
We are planning to 301 redirect all the old URLs onto the new static pages.
My main concern is that our rankings will drop in Google if we do make these changes.
Should I be concerned? - or - will it just be a simple case of Google updating their cache and links?
Any help greatly appreciated.
(Moderator's note: Poster's original title asked about "rewrites", but question phrasing was about "redirects". Going forward... I've changed title to "redirects," as I assume that's what the question should be discussing.)
I'll answer the 301 redirect question anyway. Yes, its a problem. You are likely to see your rankings decimated, at least for a time. Assuming perfect technical execution, and no lingering "trust" issues, they will come back over time.
If you absolutely have to do it, I would redirect the pages in batches.
But, unless it was essential, I wouldn't. Cool URLs don't change.
[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 7:39 pm (utc) on July 17, 2009]
In general your rankings should not change (in Google), other than to improve because you are presumably moving away from less-friendly URLs to more search-friendly URLs.
It would be a good idea to test a few site sections though before doing the whole domain at once.
I have had some lingering concerns, though, about big sitewide 301 changes. I had to change an entire site's URl structure which meant 800+ pages with 301'd external links pointing to them. There have been some rumours about excessive 301 redirects when it comes to inbound linking. Whether it affects sites which alter their entire internal linking structure using 301s has never really be debated.
We took several factors into consideration that I think helped a lot. The most important was have no CHAINS of 301 redirects - not even [old url] >> [canonical fix] >> [new url]. another was that we did not 301 every legacy url, only those that were ranking or had significant backlinks or direct navigation.
Matt Cutts once posted about that approach, saying that in his mind it was better to redirect every one of the old urls. All I can say is that in projects that redirected all the old urls, the traffic faltered for weeks and even months. That's why I took this approach -- and the experience seemed to work.
Other important factors - the internal link structure is KEY in getting new urls indexed speedily. And remember that 301 redirects pass along "most" of the link juice. That's not the same as saying "all".
Some SEOs advocate submitting an xml sitemap that contains the old urls - to help Google find the redirects. I never took that approach, so I have no practical experience to share. However, there are several places where Google asks webmasters not to include urls in a sitemap that only redirect. Such urls will show up as Sitemap errors, so I took that at face value. It's comeing from the Sitemaps and spidering team after all, not the algo team.
I'll add that you need to make sure that both www and non-www version of the old URL redirect to the www version of the new URL, and do so in ONE HOP.
You also need to make sure that requests for named index pages (both www and non-www) get to their final destination in just ONE HOP.
Ensure that the redirects from old URL to new URL return a 301 status (NOT a 302).
If the old URLs have parameters in them, then you'll need Mod_Rewrite (RewriteRule) to do the job. Redirect and RedirectMatch cannot 'see' parameters.
And remember that 301 redirects pass along "most" of the link juice. That's not the same as saying "all".
Certainly true from what I've seen. I would even tentatively throw in that 301s from one site to a new one see even less link juiced passed ... but that could be a co-incidence due to the site move in general and is something I am still testing.
The most important was have no CHAINS of 301 redirects - not even [old url] >> [canonical fix] >> [new url].
To clarify, you are saying don't do this:
which then has to be 301'd to:
There should be no reason to 301 to a non-canonical URL, but a reasonable chance the unwary will canonically resolve a URL, then redirect from the old canonical to the new.
Incidentally, if I were making this kind of change, I would take the opportunity to drop the extension. Final URL would be:
Thank you very much for making the effort to reply to my query.
I have a more important element that needs addressing, which i really should have mentioned in the beginning.
The pages I am rewriting the URLs for are all inner pages which do not rank very highly at all (apart from two or three).
My Main concern is with my homepage... This is the only page that has an important rank and PR value.
Although the homepage is not having its URL re-written, will it be affected in any way by the rewrite of the other URLs? Could the homepage rankings be affected by the re-write changes elsewhere within the website? To confirm... the current homepage link is website.com/index.php and will not be changing.
Any help gratefully received
To confirm... the current homepage link is website.com/index.php and will not be changing.
An extra point with regard to the above... in addition to the redirect, make sure that you don't link to index.php in your page code. When linking to "home", link either to "/" or to the absolute url of your domain's canonical form.
This is a point that I at one time found confusing... I thought that's what the redirect was for... so I think it's worth noting for others who might be reading this thread.