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301 Redirects On Large Site - Advice Please

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#1 Kris


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Posted 14 May 2012 - 06:32 AM

Hi all

I am about to embark on the redesign and development of a jewelllery website which has got some decent rankings for specific keywords/phrases since its launch in 2008. The site has approx. 12,000 products for sale and then category pages to boot which would have all been indexed to a degree so I need to plan the redevelopment very carefully.

The site is going to be moved from its current host to a new host and the way I see my redevelopment options are as follows:

1) Build the new site with a brand new URL structure and 301 redirect the old URL's to the new URL's


2) Build the new website but keep the same URL structure thus not needing to apply 301's

The issue I have with option number 1 is that this could be days of manual 301 redirect writing in htaccess or PHP header redirects, not to mention includiing the new URL's that are added to the site during the time I am developing the site offline. In these situations can I ask what have other people done to get thousands of old URL's to map to their new URLs? Is there a good approach to use?

The issue with option number 2 is that it's more restrictive by not being able to change the URL structure of the site to a structure I feel is more friendly.

If anyone has any thoughts or opinions on how they would do it I would be very grateful. Also, if you have any suggestions on how you would approach thousands of 301 redirects that too would be useful.


#2 Tiggerito


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Posted 14 May 2012 - 09:53 AM

I think the choice between the options is down to how bad the old urls are and how flexible the new system is.

I would avoid using .htaccess files if your talking 1,000s of individual redirects. It may get slow and will be hard to maintain.

I'd go with a database driven approach.

You must be importing all the old pages to the new system. Why not build your redirect data in the same process.

Where possible I automate the upgrade process so it can be repeated later in the development lifecycle and avoid the need to manually keep two databases in sync.

My favourite upgrade processes do some clever things like clean up urls and set up redirects.

#3 Michael Martinez

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Posted 16 May 2012 - 02:58 AM

I would not try to implement 12,000 301-redirects. But neither would I feel compelled to reuse the old URLs if I didn't like them.

If you can use pattern matching on your redirects so that you're only implementing a few -- or if you're using a content manager that has a built-in URL mapping function -- then I guess it might be worth the effort to redirect the old URLs.

If you go with a new site design and do NOT want to implement 12,000 redirects then just redirect the most active pages (or keep those URLs -- that would be preferable). You're probably only looking at 2-300 or so. Then set up a 404-tracker to see which of the other 12,000 URLs are really getting visits from offsite links.

It may take 2-3 months for all the old links to drop out of the search indexes so I would not worry too much about low-volume 404s in the first quarter.
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