website re-design / mapping / 301'ing

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bober

New Member
Hi,

Does anyone have experience with mapping websites from old design to new design where urls have changed, In particular the affects of 301'ing or not 301'ing

eg:

example.ie/about-us to example.ie/about
example.ie/products-list to example.ie/products

I have been doing extensive research into this and I have come up with various answers, 'not 301'ing is very bad and your loosing 95% of your link quality'

Also, in my view 301'ing all pages on a site is just not viable. Would it not be better to choose the top traffic pages & 301 those then have in place a 404 for other pages with not as much emphasis. We re-designed our website in work (8 weeks ago) we did not 301 url changes & the website is still PR7 and many internal pages are still high PR.

It would be great to get some feed back from web designers with emphasis on SEO. Have you been affected / or not by 301'ing when it comes to creating new sites with url structure changes. Whats your view & best practice when re-designing websites, cheers.
 

Satanta

New Member
In particular the affects of 301'ing or not 301'ing

When 301'ing, the results can vary. In most cases, after a little turbulence in the results it will settle out and you'll retain a portion of the previous link equity (estimates on how much is retained vary wildly, with most in between 40% and 80%. My own limited tests would suggest the 50%-60% range, but that's not a figure I'd put any significant weight on being honest). It will also improve your crawl efficiency, as the search engines gain a view of the new layout much faster than without the redirects. Possibly just as importantly, it provides a much better experience for your users should they have pages bookmarked or direct type in for popular pages.

Not 301'ing means you're losing the benefits of the previous links, hurting your rankings, and providing a poor user experience. There's no upside to not 301'ing, other than the saving of a little time in setting them up.

Why do you feel 301'ing all pages isn't viable?

It really depends on the size of the site and the structure both pre and post changes, but in most cases it's not a huge ordeal to set up the required redirects. If you have the old site map and a copy of the new site map, doing the remapping can be relatively painless if there's a clear pattern to changes or a semantic link between the two. Even without a clever dev to script the leg work (a major time saver), Excel can provide the results with a few clever scripts and a little time QA'ing the results.

The benefits of doing so will depend on the site, but in the vast majority of cases it's a change worth making. There are relatively few activities that would provide a better return on investment of time than setting up those redirects.

We re-designed our website in work (8 weeks ago) we did not 301 url changes & the website is still PR7 and many internal pages are still high PR.
Most likely, the most authoritative links to the site were pointing at the home page so no dramatically noticeable change would have been seen in the Toolbar PR (TPR is an extremely crude and rough measure).

Having said that, losing deep links across the entire site (assuming it had some/any to begin with) is a negative signal you don't want. Google in particular is putting more and more emphasis on domain level metrics rather than the traditional page level metrics, so cutting all deep linking from the site is a bad step even if it isn't directly noticeable on the TPR.

Have you been affected / or not by 301'ing when it comes to creating new sites with url structure changes. Whats your view & best practice when re-designing websites, cheers.
Best practice is most definitely to 301 on a page by page basis. There's no question there. It's also best practice to seek to have external links updated to point to the new domain rather than having to undergo the redirect, though this obviously is a far more difficult task.

If you really can't redirect for any reason, do 301 the significant pages that had external links pointing at them.

The impacts really do vary from site to site. In some cases it was relatively negligible and, due to other positive changes being made at the same time, no negative impacts were felt (as the end net result was a gain, even though the redirects would have independently had a negative impact on their own). This is common on sites where no significant promotion of internal pages or deep linking to the site has occurred (a negative in itself). In other cases it had a significant impact in the short term, lessening as the new structure was picked up on and the old link value reassigned to the new URLs.
 

bober

New Member
cheers for your input - by the sounds of things here, other blogs, forums are suggesting that all pages must be 301'd.

Why do you feel 301'ing all pages isn't viable? (I prob should have developed on this)

I just don't think time/work v's mapping all pages made much sense, in particular on sites that are not seo focused, literally have no backlinks, traffic etc. surely time could be better spent putting effort into building a new site that is seo compliant rather than worrying about 301'ing irrelevant pages. (have a 404 in place).

OK, best seo practice 301 all pages but when other factors come into play I think considerations need to come into play.

tks again for the info...
 

Satanta

New Member
I just don't think time/work v's mapping all pages made much sense, in particular on sites that are not seo focused, literally have no backlinks, traffic etc. surely time could be better spent putting effort into building a new site that is seo compliant rather than worrying about 301'ing irrelevant pages. (have a 404 in place).
If they literally have zero external links, have/had very low traffic, had no promotion or popularity, had no previous rankings, very little chance of them being previously bookmarked, etc., then fair enough. The risks of not 301'ing drop considerably and the time may be better invested elsewhere.

It'll still impact on the new URIs as there will be poor crawl efficiency at the start with so many of the old pages still in the index and being recrawled periodically. It really is a site specific decision (the general rule of thumb always has to be redirect, but exceptions can happen where it's of such little value it's not worth it) and on the exact nature of the changes (e.g. it could be a very quick fix if there's a structured method to the changes). In this case, if you intend not to redirect, you might want to consider returning a 410 header response rather than a default 404 to speed up the removal of the old data and lessen the impact of the crawl budget wastage (404 is basically saying "Umm, we've a broken link or a broken site or something, we're not really sure so keep at it for a bit" where the 410 says "This is gone, for good" and will give the result you're looking for faster).

OK, best seo practice 301 all pages but when other factors come into play I think considerations need to come into play.
Always. There's always a need to balance the logistics of implementing a change, the pros and cons of doing/not doing it, the resources available and the long term impacts it may have. It's the reason that having SEO baked in from the start and not as a bolt on checklist is so important for a site. In most cases, it'll save time, effort and cost in the long run hugely.
 
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