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When I switch the URLs, I will of course mess up a lot of inbound links from other sites that already point to the messy "index.asp?PageAction=VIEWCATS&Category=127".
What do I need to do to make the switch and keep the links Ive built? I need to make the previous "index.asp?PageAction=VIEWCATS&Category=127" page redirect to the new clean URL page, right? Does this involve "301 redirects"?
Actually, your situation is fairly common and there is a way to keep the hard earned links.
I'd run site:domain.com in google to get a list of all currently indexed pages.
Then, use 301's from the old, sloppy url's to the most appropriate page in your new site. This should preserve your links and keep the "trauma and drama" of the switch to a minimum.