November 3, 2010
We are moving our site to a new CMS – same content, many identical pages, some new pages, same domain, different URLs. The CMS allows us to craft SEO-friendly URLs, like this:
The underlying page-number URL will also load that same page:
Question 1. In sitemap.xml, can we use the page number URL rather than the keyword URL?
I am assuming that we will tweak the keyword URLs as we learn what works and would like to avoid making changes to the sitemap.xml all the time.
I am guessing that the Google spider will index what the page displays and not the link in the sitemap.xml that gets it there. Is that right?
Question 2. We will use Rewrite Rules with 301-redirects from all the old pages in Google's index to the appropriate page on the new site. Here, I am assuming that the Rewrite Rule will need to point to the friendly URL and not the page number URL. Is that the case?
Thanks a lot!
You never, ever want two URLs for the same content. Let me repeat that...never, ever!
Make sure your CMS does not create those other URLs and/or 301-redirect them to the keyword ones that you want.
Regarding your XML sitemap file, it's not a requirement to submit an XML sitemap through your Google Webmaster Tools account, but if you do, use the URLs that you ultimately want them to index. Do not use the URLs that you will be redirecting.
Everything that you do moving forward should always use the keyword-URLs (or whichever URL you want to be indexed). For all intents and purposes, the others no longer exist – or at least shouldn't exist. It's critical to make sure that both versions cannot be reached by a browser and that one provides a 301 permanent redirect http header response. Your developer should be able to make this happen correctly.
You also mentioned that you were assuming you would be tweaking your keyword URLs. I would strongly recommend against that. Editing URLs isn't an SEO tactic.
Set them however you want them (even the number ones would be fine) and then leave them alone. You will do much more harm than good if you tweak your URLs, especially if you feel that you're doing it for SEO purposes. Tweak other areas of your site, but not your URLs.