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What To Do When Changing Url's For A Page? Redirect? 404?

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#1 Webseeker


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Posted 27 March 2012 - 06:59 PM

This is a secondary question related to my original question at the below URL:


Say I have a page that "was" /kitapp.html and changed it to /kitchen-appliances.html, what happens to the old url or what should I do when search engines still have/use the old url? There will be old info out there using the url of /kitapp.html until they're changed in the indexing.

Is this where I do a 301 redirect? Or what is it normally people should do in this circumstance?

Since I used the 301 redirect, if that's what I should do, I shouldn't have to do a 404 error page for that missing url should I?

In what situation(s) should I set up a 404 error page?

Thank you,


#2 clandestino


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Posted 28 March 2012 - 12:49 AM

Hi Webseeker,

That is exactly what a 301 redirect is for. That way when a user or Googlebot comes looking for the old page, they seemlessly arrive at the new page. Moreover all of the attributes -- links (with some loss in value, many people say 10%), PageRank, etc. get transferred to the new page.

You should be careful that the new, target, page is similar to the old page. If Googlebot goes searching for your old page about "bunnies" and ends up at a page about "vulgar affiliate products", that would be a doorway page in Google's eyes and they may do bad things to you. That's when you should use a 404 and just put up a new page on the new subject -- don't try to direct traffic to the new page thinking any traffic is good traffic and at least you get a shot at getting them interested even if they will most likely exit because that's not what they were looking for.

If a product is discontinued and there is no replacement product or similar product, use a 404. Don't redirect them to that category hoping they find something else they like. The 404 page can provide navigation to things that other people that were looking for that removed product were interested in, though. You could also add site search to that page so they can find what they really came for. If you make it easy, they will buy.

If you determine a page is hurting your site -- you have bad links to a page and Google sends you a notice in your Webmaster Tools console and you contact the webmaster of the site that has the bad links pointing at your page and they won't do anything about it (as is often the case with low-end spammy directories), 404 the page and your problems are gone. Tell Google about it, promise never, never to do it again, and they probably will accept your request for reconsideration and let you play some more.

That's all I can think of right now. Hope this helps.

And remember, no one is ever the last word and your situation is always different than theirs. The only thing that is really important is what works on your site. You may get ideas from others, but -- test it, don't accept it.

#3 torka


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Posted 28 March 2012 - 11:39 AM

Since I used the 301 redirect, if that's what I should do, I shouldn't have to do a 404 error page for that missing url should I?

In what situation(s) should I set up a 404 error page?

You should always have a 404 page.

You don't set up individual 404 pages for each missing page. You set up one 404 error page that is returned whenever a browser requests a URL that doesn't exist. There are many different reasons that this could happen (visitor enters a mis-typed URL in the browser address bar, bad link from another site, file temporarily gone AWOL on your site, etc.). You could never possibly predict every 404 error that could occur before it happens.

A well-designed 404 page will help redirect the visitor to the best available page. Some companies put a simplified version of their site map on their 404 page. Others direct visitors to the site menu, or include a search box, use narrative text with inline links to help guide visitors, or some combination. About the worst thing you can do is just let the default 404 page handle these errors.

Use 301 redirects to take care of the changes you know about. Use the 404 page to catch all the random mis-typed/badly formed URLs that people can come up with that you don't know about in advance.

--Torka :propeller:

Edited by torka, 28 March 2012 - 11:40 AM.

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