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14 replies to this topic

#1 madams

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Posted 09 December 2009 - 06:24 AM

Hi

I am considering dragging my website into the 21st century kicking and screaming.

I made the website 10 years ago and I had to learn everything as I went along. The site has performed reasonably well but now is the time to update it.

I am going to implement a CMS template site to replace mine and I want to be sure I do this correctly. The new site will offer more features and is very user friendly and SE friendly.

I have read the forum regarding redirects etc and I think I have a good understanding how to go about this crossfingers.gif but I want to check if you agree.

The plan:
Leave my site running as normal.

Download the new CMS software to a new folder in the root of the old site.

Setup and customize new site and add all the relevant pages (400 pages ish) from the old site.
Question: (Not sure if I should exclude the SE from the new folder (new site) at this time)

Test that all is ok and working correctly.

When the tests are complete, 301 redirect all the old URLīs to the new ones via .htaccess.
(If I have excluded the new site from the SE, remove the exclusion)

Test all the redirects are working.

This bit I am not sure about:
When the new site is launched, should I leave the old site running and if so for how long?

Any comments? or have I missed something.

Thanks








#2 Randy

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Posted 09 December 2009 - 07:58 AM

You can simply use robots.txt to exclude the spiders from the new directory while it's still in development. I'd personally remove that a couple of weeks prior to everything going live just to let the spiders in to start grabbing pages. No huge risk of anything bad happening since it'll be for a very limited time.

On the rest, yes that's the way to do it.

Whether you leave the old pages up after the redirects go into place or not isn't all that important. Because with proper 301's in place those old pages won't get used anyway. All traffic to them, including spider traffic, will automatically be sent to the new location via 301 redirect.

#3 Jill

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Posted 09 December 2009 - 08:30 AM

Be sure to also read SEO Best Practices During a Redesign, because it's more than just redirects that you need to be aware of as you redesign.

#4 madams

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Posted 09 December 2009 - 09:14 AM

Thanks Randy & Jill

The article gave me food for thought.

QUOTE
If your new page URLs must be completely different than your old URLs due to your new backend platform, you could redirect each URL manually to its most equivalent new counterpart. This is doable for say 20-50 URLs, but could get quite tedious for more than that, so it’s always best to try to automate it as much as possible.


The article says "redirect 20-50 URL,s is doable". Well I would be redirecting 200+

Is there an easy way to automate this?

I will be going from htm to php. As far as I can see, the only pages (on the new software) that will remain html is the "About Us" "Privacy Policy" and the "Terms of Use" pages and any subsequent additional pages I create that wont be searchable, like articles etc.

How do I redirect from htm to php but not totally?

Is 200+ redirects doable or is there a better way?




#5 Jill

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Posted 09 December 2009 - 09:22 AM

Are the names going to be similar? In other words, will it just be the difference between page1.htm moving to page1.php?

If so, it's easy. If there's no match then as far as I know you have to hand do it.

#6 madams

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Posted 09 December 2009 - 09:37 AM

The url names will change from...

http://www.my-site/property1.htm

To...

http://www.my-site/U...-property1.html

Note: As you see I made a mistake in the post above, the main property pages are in html (in the new site) not php

I believe the php files work any pages with customer interaction, sign-up, log-in etc.

#7 Jill

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Posted 09 December 2009 - 12:44 PM

Since there are commonalities you should be able to do something automatic. But if the pages are still html based, why not just leave them the same URLs?

#8 madams

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Posted 09 December 2009 - 05:23 PM

Yes Jill I understand your point, but I have no control over how the urlīs are presented, this is down to the software.

Should I just redirect the old to new?

#9 Randy

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Posted 09 December 2009 - 10:24 PM

Given the number of redirects and the way the structures are changing --namely that you won't have any control over that to create something you can use as a bulk trigger-- here's what I'd do step-by-step:
  • Start yourself a spreadsheet that lists all of the current or soon to be old url addresses.
  • As you build out the new CMS built pages (exclude it via robots.txt during build out) plug the new URLs it spits out next to the old page that should be redirecting to it. Note that you can have more than one old page redirect to the same new page if it works out that way.
    (You'll need this list no matter how you do the actual redirects.)
  • When you're ready to launch the new version you have a choice to make. You can either

    A.) Set it all up in an .htacess with the 200+ lines. I wouldn't advise this if you're on a shared server or have a very busy site, namely because the server will have to parse through all 200+ lines even for good hits to the new pages. If the server has no load problems and the site doesn't get slammed with traffic it's not a big thing, but I like to avoid potential problems.

    B.) Set up the server (in .htaccess) to send .htm and/or .html extension files through the PHP parser and change each of those old pages to set up page-to-page redirects at the file level.

    C.) Set up the server to send .htm and/or .html extension files through the PHP parser and set up one bulk redirect of all of the old pages in the .htaccess to a new .php file, a file that in turn uses a Case->Switch logic to perform a final scripted redirect to the correct page. This option ends up having two 301 redirects in the path, but I've never had a problem as long as you limit it to two, and it's easier to maintain.
The search engines will treat all of the above essentially the same. So that's not the issue. It's more of a server and server load thing, and to some degree a maintenance thing. With A you run the risk of creating additional server load for every page/file hit. For B you remove that possibility for good hits, but you have to keep all of the old files on the server. For C you also remove the load issues, but you also don't have to keep all of those 200+ old files on the server because it's all being handled by a combination of .htaccess and a single file.

Personally I'd do C, but this is more of a personal choice thing.

#10 madams

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Posted 30 January 2010 - 02:42 PM

Hi

I have followed the advice and redirected the majority of the pages from my old site to the new ones.

These new pages are indexed and show up in the se results.

What now?

There are some pages that didn't fit the new site and some are just not needed due to the new search function.

This leaves me with some pages that are indexed but of no use now.

What is the next step, if any?

#11 Randy

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Posted 31 January 2010 - 12:46 PM

What are you doing currently with those old pages that are simply going to be MIA?

You have two choices basically. You can allow them to 404 Not Found. Or you can 301 them back over to something like the home page. There is no single right answer IMO to this one.

If you let 'em 404 then you'll want to make sure you have a good custom 404 error page. Because the oddity is that 404'd pages have ended up still in the search engines' indexes months or even years after they've gone missing.

That's why some simply 301 those missing pages during a redesign back over to the home page, or sometimes to a special page explaining why some pages got removed during redesign. The weird part is the 301 ends up getting these MIA pages out of the index more quickly than a (more proper IMO) 404 does!

#12 madams

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Posted 29 April 2010 - 06:07 AM

I have now changed my site from static htm to cms.

Following the great advice above, all the url's have been redirected from the old to new pages. All the new pages are indexed in the SE.

I have tested everything and it is working as it should and business is getting back to normal.
(If normal is a volcanic cloud from Iceland hanging over the UK, stopping flights, where most of my business comes from)

Due to the CMS, my entire new site is in a /folder. Leaving my old site in root.

My question is, do I leave all the old site files as they are?

Or is there something else I should be doing.

#13 Randy

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Posted 29 April 2010 - 08:13 AM

QUOTE
My question is, do I leave all the old site files as they are?


Presuming you're using .htaccess or a similiar do the redirect, the old files at the root level aren't even going to be used anymore. So it should be completely safe to remove them entirely from your server.

The devil of course being in the details. Because there are other ways to perform redirects, including doing scripted redirects at the file level, where those files would actually include the redirect code. Or you might run into a situation where a .css or .js or image file that sits at the root level is still being called by one or more pages somewhere in the site.

It's a pain to do, but I usually take the time to scan through the raw log files looking for any root level files that are being called and used. Then I'll delete the files, making sure I have a full backup somewhere safe first. Then I'll keep an eye on the error log file for a week or so to make sure my little house cleaning hasn't removed a file that needs to be there.

#14 madams

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Posted 29 April 2010 - 08:20 AM

Thanks Randy

Yes, I have done a simple redirect 301 /old-url http://new-url.

So I leave my new site files in the same folder and if, I do as you say, check that nothing is broken when I delete the old files, the root of the site will just contain 1 folder (new site)

No issues with this ?

#15 Randy

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Posted 29 April 2010 - 08:30 AM

No issues at all if none of those files are currently being used.




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