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What's better? Cross domain canonical or meta refresh

     

Esoos

8:45 pm on Mar 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Have a client who needs to move from a subdomain on a free hosting platform to their own domain. Server-side 301 redirects are not possible, unfortunately, but I can edit the HTML.

What's better in a case like this? A zero-second meta refresh for each page to the appropriate page on their new domain, or a cross-domain canonical tag for each page? Which one gives the most "301-like" behavior?

Marshall

10:00 pm on Mar 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



While Google claims to support cross domain canonical links, Bing currently does not. If you pages are either php or asp, you can actually put a 301 redirect in the page.

As far as getting people to the new page, I would put text in the page to the effect: "This page has been moved" with a link to the new page and use both a zero meta refresh and, if you cannot use the asp or php trick I mentioned, a JavaScript redirect just in case (I believe in backup plans). However, without being able to indicate to the SE's that it is a 301 redirect, it may take them a while to catch up to the move.

Marshall

AnkitMaheshwari

7:28 am on Mar 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



A page level 301 using is best for php and asp sites as this solves all problems

if above is not possible and most (90%+) of your organic traffic is coming from Google, I did rather use the cross domain canonical tag in place of meta refresh.

g1smd

7:38 am on Mar 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member g1smd is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



What I found to work some years ago was to edit the navigation on every page of the old site so that no matter what you clicked you were taken to correct new page on the new site matching the navigation link that you had clicked.

Either hard code the domain name in every link, or add the base tag to top of every page.

If the old site uses "includes" of any sort, you likely have a quicker job than you previously imagined.

Nowadays, adding the rel="canonical" attribute is also a good idea.

Esoos

2:08 pm on Mar 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Thanks for the replies. I don't believe I can insert php code into the page and have it execute, but I'll check with the web host. The pages all have .html extensions, but (I hope) maybe they've set set up .html files to run as .php.

That'd be my first choice, but if that's not possible I wonder if it's alright to use "all of the above" at once:

1 - Zero-second meta refresh.
2 - JavaScript redirect
3 - Cross-domain canonical
4 - Edit internal links to point to new page location (site's only about 50 pages, so not super hard to do).

Or is that redundant, since the meta refresh would whisk SEs away before they ever saw any of the other stuff?

Marshall

4:27 pm on Mar 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



The pages all have .html extensions,


You may be able to configure the server to treat .html pages as .php.

Marshall

Esoos

5:29 pm on Mar 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Yep, issue is: Their site's on a subdomain of a free webhost, so I don't have any server access whatsoever.

Trying to figure out the best workaround to this limitation.

tedster

6:20 pm on Mar 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

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



Why not do both? That takes care of Google doubly, and Bing at least once.

aristotle

6:45 pm on Mar 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



What I found to work some years ago was to edit the navigation on every page of the old site so that no matter what you clicked you were taken to correct new page on the new site matching the navigation link that you had clicked.



This is an interesting idea. I don't remember seeing it before.

One quick question -- What would happen to the new site if the old site disappears from the web?

tedster

7:15 pm on Mar 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

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



It loses any backlink juice from sites that haven't changed their backlinks to point to the new domain's URLs.

g1smd

8:47 pm on Mar 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member g1smd is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



This is an interesting idea. I don't remember seeing it before.

I first mentioned this technique in 2003 and have used it several times since, the last being a couple of years ago. This happens when moving a site from a free host to paid hosting.

I initially worried that the old site might be seen as being a series of doorway pages. However each page of the old site links to multiple pages of the new site, not to a single page, and the content is similar if not identical. I usually added a notice along the top of all the old pages stating that the site had moved. In many cases I also added the meta robots noindex tag to the old pages after a few months. A year or two later the old sites were taken down.

Esoos

1:29 am on Mar 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Thanks for all the helpful feedback. I believe I'll use both the zero-second meta refresh and the canonical tag in combination.

Regarding leaving the content up on the old site and changing the links to point to the new site, I'd be concerned about creating duplicate content problems, since the content will still be up in two locations (although we could meta noindex the old pages).

Instead (as was suggested) I think I'll pull all the content down from each of the old pages and just have a short message on each page (for browsers that don't refresh and for search engines) that says "This page has been moved" with a link to the new page.
 

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