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New CMS Changing File Extensions

January 3, 2007

Hi Jill Ė

 

I really enjoy reading your newsletters and would appreciate your advice on launching a new web site.

 

Our web site has been around for many years and we are switching over to a content management system coded in JSP, but with extensions ending in .do as opposed to what we currently have, .asp.

 

We have hundreds of pages dynamically code-driven from our database in .asp and Iím worried that when we switch over to the .do extension we will lose placement in the search engines.  We will be redirecting the .asp pages to the appropriate .do page but will it affect our long-term rankings of those .asp pages that live throughout the SEís if we 301-redirect? Iím just not sure how well the search engines pick up the .do extension. Are there steps to ensure better success through this transition?

 

Thanks so much. Keep up the great work!

 

Skip

 

++Jillís Response++

 

Hi Skip,

 

The .do extension in and of itself shouldnít be a problem, as the search engines index any and all extensions just fine.  But the changing of all the site URLs from .asp to .do will definitely cause you some temporary pain in the search engines, even with the 301-redirects.  Unfortunately, it can often take a few months for the search engines to remove all your old URLs and index the new ones.  And even once they do, your new URLs may or may not be given the same ďtrustedĒ weight as the old ones, simply by the fact that they are new.

 

Youíre doing all you can do by putting up the 301-permanent redirects, but do expect some loss of traffic during the transition and possibly for a few months following it.  It might help to add a Google Sitemap when you go live with the new site, but make sure the site is squeaky-clean of search engine spam if you do this.

 

Iíd recommend not making the changes during your busy season, if you have one (and if you can help it).

 

Good luck!

 

Jill

 
 
Post Comment

 Rachel McConnell said:

Comment @ 01/03/07 at 11:05 pm As a Java programmer for many years, I can tell you that most, if not all, webservers that can generate JSP files are configurable to use any extension you want.

 

You almost certainly have the option to change the .do extension to .asp, so that your page names remain the same. Depending on the content management system youíre using and whether you have an experienced JSP programmer installing it or not, this option may be more or less difficult, but the basic way to do it is this.

 

I am guessing your CMS is built on a framework called Struts, because of the .do extension, so Iíll use a Struts example. In any Java-based web application, there is a file that provides configuration information to the appserver, called web.xml. Inside this file is a piece of XML code that looks something like,

 

action
org.apache.struts.action.ActionServlet
(a bunch more stuff you can ignore)

action
*.do

 

Notice the line, *.do. Simply change this so that instead of *.do you have *.asp. The links themselves, in your navigation and all other places on your site, will need to use the *.asp extension, of course, but for the application server to recognize and generate pages using the .asp extention, the above is all you need to do.

 

Good luck,

 

Rachel


 John said:
Comment @ 01/04/07 at 3:32 am

Jill,
We are about to change over to a new site that although still has html extensions will have different urls to our previous site just because the software forces a different folder name. Will we see the same effects?

Regards
John
 Jill said:
Comment @ 01/04/07 at 7:57 am

John, yes, you will unfortunately have a few months of pain, I would imagine.

And Rachel, thanks for the info!
 Carole said:
Comment @ 01/04/07 at 9:04 am

We just went over to vb.net so they wanted me to have a lot of files with .aspx extensions. I stomped around fussing at them for a while and suddenly they figured a way to make the .html extensions all work like .asp pages. So I didnít have to change my pages after all. Amazing what a little drama will do. ;*)
 Jill said:
You go, Carole! :)
 Rett said:
For the Apache crowd, couldnít mod_rewrite be used to avoid these issues?
 Eric said:
Comment @ 01/06/07 at 9:13 pm

No matter what webserver youíre using (Zeus, IIS, Apache, lighttpd), there are ways to handle extensions differently (so a file thatís .asp is handled as a PHP file by the server, or whatever you want).

I donít think that Iíd move them all to .do from .asp at once. Instead, Iíd move some and gradually move them all over the course of 3 months. That way you wonít have to use so many 301s or have so many files change at once (and use backend file handling over 301s on the links you donít shift with 301s right away).

Also, Iíd label the files .html instead of .do (or even an extensionless setup like Digg and Amazon use) - because in 3 years you might switch from .do to .jak (I just made that up) and I canít imagine youíd want to go through this process again of shifting your URLs to reflect a different backend technology.

Good luck!
 Elena said:
Great info.

i have old established website, all htm files. seo'd if you like. Im currently talking with programmer who suggests apps using asp.

can i simply add new pages with asp extentions to the site so that the site has mixed extensions without problem?

arent asp page names dynamic? Can they be made static?

Thanks
 Jill said:
Hi Elena,

You can just just add new .asp pages, but if you're changing your old URLs to the new .asp format, make sure you 301-redirect them to their new counterparts.

You don't want to have 2 versions of your page on your site.