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Changing Url Extensions From .htm To .html


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15 replies to this topic

#1 zzmac

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Posted 23 October 2013 - 12:05 PM

Hi,
 
We just redesigned our website (faster, easier to read etc..) but kept all the SEO the exact same as we've had for the last 6-8 years.
 
I just found out that our web guy changed all of our URLs from .htm to .html and he said he put 301 redirects to all the pages.
 
We've always ranked very high on many industry keywords but it did drop off a fair bit after Google's latest algorithm change. And in checking again today (a few days after our redesign has gone live) we've almost completely dropped of the radar for just about every important keyword on Google.
 
Question #1 - I know changing URLs names with a 12 year history on Google is a big no-no but was it a big mistake for our web guy to change just the extensions from .htm to .html (with the redirects)? Should I have him change them back to .htm right away and put redirects going the other way?
 
Question #2 - Could this just be a very temporary thing with our rankings in Google or might we have a big problem on our hands because of something else. Our web guy swears the extensions were all he changed.
 
HELPPPPPPPP!!!!!!!!!!!!
 
This may or may not help with either question. I just did a search for one of important keywords that used to be on page 1 of Google and now it's on about Page 6. But the link is to our temporary redesign page and not our actual page. The actual page is nowhere to be found. Instead of  www.abc.com/widget.htm ,the one that shows up is  www.abc.com/redesign/widget.htm   

 
Please respond to my previous questions.
 
Thanks in advance for any help!



#2 Jill

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Posted 23 October 2013 - 03:49 PM

 

but kept all the SEO the exact same as we've had for the last 6-8 years

 

 

 

The SEO is all baked into the design, so there's usually no way to "keep your SEO the same" unless everything except colors of the site remain the same.

 

The actual page is nowhere to be found. Instead of  www.abc.com/widget.htm ,the one that shows up is  www.abc.com/redesign/widget.htm   

 

Sounds like a duplicate content issue. 404 the redesign directory and all the pages within it. Also make sure that the live real website isn't linking to the /redesign/ folder via any absolute links by mistake.



#3 zzmac

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Posted 23 October 2013 - 08:58 PM

 

The SEO is all baked into the design, so there's usually no way to "keep your SEO the same" unless everything except colors of the site remain the same.

 

 

Sounds like a duplicate content issue. 404 the redesign directory and all the pages within it. Also make sure that the live real website isn't linking to the /redesign/ folder via any absolute links by mistake.

 

Thanks for the replies Jill. More than anything I need to know about his changing the extension on all my URLs to .html with redirects from the previous. .htm extensions. Was that a big no-no and should they all be changed back to .htm  Everything I've read today says there is no difference between the two extensions and I'm worried that I'll lose all the (Google) history with the URLs I've had for 10-12 years. What would you suggest?



#4 Jill

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Posted 24 October 2013 - 07:12 AM

If they are all truly 301 redirected then it shouldn't be a problem. But you need to check to be sure they are all there and redirected properly. 



#5 zzmac

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Posted 24 October 2013 - 08:28 AM

If they are all truly 301 redirected then it shouldn't be a problem. But you need to check to be sure they are all there and redirected properly. 

 

Thanks for your answer Jill! Would it not be easier/better to just change the extensions back to .htm??



#6 torka

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Posted 24 October 2013 - 08:45 AM

As Jill said, if the old URLs are properly 301 redirected, it shouldn't be an issue. In other words, as long as there are proper 301 redirects in place, the change in file extensions is almost certainly NOT your problem.

 

(Assuming there is, in fact, a significant problem... you've mentioned rankings changes, but what's happened to your actual traffic and conversions? Are those also down? If so, is the decline just from organic search or is it across the boards? You need to know the answers to those questions to properly begin diagnosing what the problem, if any, might be. Apparent rankings, in a vacuum, are a very poor measure of site performance. Certainly nothing I'd recommend using as the sole basis for making big changes to a website.)

 

Again, as Jill said, unless the only thing you changed was the colors of the site, then other things have changed which very well could have a significant impact. Assuming the redirect was properly implemented, redirecting old URLs to new is not one of those kinds of things.

 

Since the file extensions are already changed, changing them back would be extra (and possibly unnecessary) work... work that could be taking your attention away from stuff that really matters. If it were me, I'd just check to make sure the old URLs are issuing a proper 301 redirect to the appropriate new page and then move on to analyzing my site traffic and conversions, and comparing all the other stuff that changed to see what of that might be causing any issues.

 

--Torka :oldfogey:



#7 zzmac

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Posted 24 October 2013 - 09:24 AM

As Jill said, if the old URLs are properly 301 redirected, it shouldn't be an issue. In other words, as long as there are proper 301 redirects in place, the change in file extensions is almost certainly NOT your problem.

 

(Assuming there is, in fact, a significant problem... you've mentioned rankings changes, but what's happened to your actual traffic and conversions? Are those also down? If so, is the decline just from organic search or is it across the boards? You need to know the answers to those questions to properly begin diagnosing what the problem, if any, might be. Apparent rankings, in a vacuum, are a very poor measure of site performance. Certainly nothing I'd recommend using as the sole basis for making big changes to a website.)

 

Again, as Jill said, unless the only thing you changed was the colors of the site, then other things have changed which very well could have a significant impact. Assuming the redirect was properly implemented, redirecting old URLs to new is not one of those kinds of things.

 

Since the file extensions are already changed, changing them back would be extra (and possibly unnecessary) work... work that could be taking your attention away from stuff that really matters. If it were me, I'd just check to make sure the old URLs are issuing a proper 301 redirect to the appropriate new page and then move on to analyzing my site traffic and conversions, and comparing all the other stuff that changed to see what of that might be causing any issues.

 

--Torka :oldfogey:

Thanks Torka. As for the redesign, as far as I know, the only things changed were a cleaner layout, different colors, better various browser compatibility and changes to make pages load quicker for mobile (as per Google's new recommendations). All the text, tags, links etc.. remain unchanged.

I'm not a tech guy but that doesn't sound like anything but an improvement wouldn't you say. Not something that Google would penalize in any way.



Thanks Torka. As for the redesign, as far as I know, the only things changed were a cleaner layout, different colors, better various browser compatibility and changes to make pages load quicker for mobile (as per Google's new recommendations). All the text, tags, links etc.. remain unchanged.

I'm not a tech guy but that doesn't sound like anything but an improvement wouldn't you say. Not something that Google would penalize in any way.

One other thing....he said he had put 401 redirects on the old URLs and Jill said to use 301s. Is there a difference and could this have caused any issues?



#8 Jill

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Posted 24 October 2013 - 12:46 PM

One other thing....he said he had put 401 redirects on the old URLs and Jill said to use 301s. Is there a difference and could this have caused any issues?

 

There you go then. Those are completely opposite things, and that indeed would significantly effect your site in Google. 

 

In your original post you said he 301 redirected them. If that's not the case, you need to fix it asap.



#9 zzmac

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Posted 24 October 2013 - 01:27 PM

 

There you go then. Those are completely opposite things, and that indeed would significantly effect your site in Google. 

 

In your original post you said he 301 redirected them. If that's not the case, you need to fix it asap.

Thanks!



#10 torka

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 09:06 AM

Yeah, a 401 isn't a redirect at all. It's just a notification that the page at that URL has gone away. In essence, with 401's, your site has to start all over again.

 

Definitely get that changed to true 301 redirects. Seriously, this should be your top priority. Hesitation and delay are not your friends in this case.

 

--Torka :oldfogey:



#11 Jill

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 10:15 AM

In re-reading, I realize you said 401. I don't think 401's are a thing. Did he say 404's? 



#12 chrishirst

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 12:57 PM

A HTTP: 401  response is "Gone" which means the document is NEVER going to be coming back at that URL.

 

A HTTP: 404 response is "Not Found" which may, or may not, be a permanent condition for that document



#13 zzmac

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 03:03 PM

In re-reading, I realize you said 401. I don't think 401's are a thing. Did he say 404's? 

I just double checked with him and my mistake he did put 301s on the old extensions (not 401s).

 

And I think we discovered what the problem was. He allowed all the temporary redesign pages to go live without hiding them from Google and we're guessing that Google saw this as duplicate pages. It's been fixed and my rankings seems to be reappearing (Pheww!)

 

Thanks all for your input.



#14 Jill

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Posted 26 October 2013 - 06:54 AM

Yep, that was what I originally said above. 



#15 piskie

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Posted 28 October 2013 - 07:51 PM

Instead of changing file extensions, I would give serious thought to changing my "web guy" as you called him.


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