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On the matter of redirects and SEO

How will 301 redirects effect SEO? What is Brugbarts recommendations on redirects?

Edited: 2011-07-25 14:28

Recently Brugbart changed its URL system a third time in its lifetime, hopefully this will be the final time that we changed the URLs. Many of you SEO focused readers, might not agree that this was a good choice.

But remember that we always have to weight the pros and cons, when deciding to create a new URL system. And of cause properly 301 redirect the old URLs, to the URL in the new system. See also: Redirecting URLs with PHP

Pros on changing URL systems

One of the first things that comes to mind, is whether people actually type in URLs to find content on your site. I have traditionally thought it would be unlikely for most users, and i still do for the most part. But its clear that some users scans the URL for common simple patterns, and then try to guess what a page might be called.

For instance, Yahoo is using subdomains to host many of their different services, such as http://answers.yahoo.com/, and http://search.yahoo.com/. This is a perfect example where people may notice the system clearly, and try to guess the URL for the search service. (I did that once).

Another thing which comes to mind, is that using the unique database ID in the URL, might look rather amateurish. It also creates a problem, because the we recently activated the comment feature again. The numeric IDs could become pretty large, due to all the spam that has been posted. Further more, using these IDs in the URLs, are pretty much making it impossible to guess the URL effectively.

Another problem the old system faced, is that the title which was used in the URL, could be mistyped, and end up producing duplicate content, because Brugbart didn't check that the title was entered correctly.

Finally we had the .html file extension, which i don't really think reflects the dynamicity of Brugbart, and which has long annoyed me. After all, why maintain static file extensions, when web applications today include scripting and other stuff? It would make sense if it was a static document, but i don't think you should use file extensions on dynamic content.

Cons on changing URL systems

The only con i can come to think of, is the 1-2 hours work or so, that i put into rewriting the source code. And I'm still not entirely done implementing it. All the internal links in individual articles, etc. Have not yet been updated.

If you only have about hundred pages, then if these ain't to big, and doesn't have that many links, you likely could update them manually. If you have hundreds, or even thousands of pages, you would want to look into writing a script to check each of the old links, take the identification method, check it against the database, and update each link accordingly. This is easy with functions such as preg_match_all

Potential loss of link juice

301 redirects will generally pass link juice, including pagerank. So this is not much of a problem for most legit webmasters, i think they would have to do some really dubious stuff to get effected.

Conclusion

Its like bodybuilding: "No Pain No Gain".

If you started out by placing the door to your house on the roof, and it makes sense to move it to the ground, then you shouldn't hesitate to do so. People will eventually learn about the change, and while it doesn't pay to work out in the short run (I.e. Due to getting tired, and muscle soreness), it surely will pay in the long run.