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URL Redirection problems

P: n/a
Maybe it's a little OT, but I'll give it try anyway....

I was asked to maintain and further develop an already existing small
company's web site.

I know the golden rule of "eternal" URIs, but in this case changing them
cannot be avoided as they were badly chosen when thwe site was first
delevoped: URLs with spaces, typos, etc. So I have to use new URLs and
put the content in them.

This causes two problems:
- 404 errors for users who have bookmarked this company's web pages
- (and *most importantly*) current pages are indexed on Google and other
search engines. Changing URLs abruptly creates obvious search engine
positioning and ranking problems.

Simple, some may say, there are *various* URL redirection techniques hat
are both transparent to the users and well accepted by search engines
(particularly 301 - Permanent redirection). Unfortunately, I don't have
access to the web server config file and, as this is a rather cheap
hosting, even though it runs on apache, I cannot cerate a .htaccess file
and put my redirections there.

Apart from changing hosting provider (which cannot be done at the
moment) or using html or javascript redirection (which is a big no no
for search engines) how can I solve this problem?

Max
Mar 28 '07 #1
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13 Replies


P: n/a
On Wed, 28 Mar 2007, Massimo Fabbri wrote:
Maybe it's a little OT,
Indeed.

Ask in <news:comp.infosystems.www.authoring.site-design>
whether to redirect.

Ask in <news:comp.infosystems.www.servers.unix>
how to redirect.

--
In memoriam Alan J. Flavell
http://groups.google.com/groups/sear...Alan.J.Flavell
Mar 28 '07 #2

P: n/a
Andreas Prilop wrote:
On Wed, 28 Mar 2007, Massimo Fabbri wrote:
>Maybe it's a little OT,

Indeed.

Ask in <news:comp.infosystems.www.authoring.site-design>
whether to redirect.

Ask in <news:comp.infosystems.www.servers.unix>
how to redirect.
Thanks :-)

Mar 28 '07 #3

P: n/a
On 03/28/2007 10:14 AM, Massimo Fabbri wrote:
Maybe it's a little OT, but I'll give it try anyway....

I was asked to maintain and further develop an already existing small
company's web site.

I know the golden rule of "eternal" URIs, but in this case changing them
cannot be avoided as they were badly chosen when thwe site was first
delevoped: URLs with spaces, typos, etc. So I have to use new URLs and
put the content in them.

This causes two problems:
- 404 errors for users who have bookmarked this company's web pages
- (and *most importantly*) current pages are indexed on Google and other
search engines. Changing URLs abruptly creates obvious search engine
positioning and ranking problems.

Simple, some may say, there are *various* URL redirection techniques hat
are both transparent to the users and well accepted by search engines
(particularly 301 - Permanent redirection). Unfortunately, I don't have
access to the web server config file and, as this is a rather cheap
hosting, even though it runs on apache, I cannot cerate a .htaccess file
and put my redirections there.

Apart from changing hosting provider (which cannot be done at the
moment) or using html or javascript redirection (which is a big no no
for search engines) how can I solve this problem?

Max
The hosting provider might allow you to create a custom 404 error page.
If so, you can make that page a script that possibly redirects to one of
the new pages.

If the hosting provider doesn't allow scripting, you could create a
static 404 page that lists the user's probably intended destinations
(which are the pages that were moved during the site reorganization).

Mar 28 '07 #4

P: n/a
Scripsit Massimo Fabbri:
I know the golden rule of "eternal" URIs,
If you _know_ it, you follow it. If you just heard of it and was told it's a
great idea, you might still fail to _know_ it. Knowing means that you
believe it and you have rational grounds for believing it.
but in this case changing
them cannot be avoided as they were badly chosen when thwe site was
first delevoped: URLs with spaces, typos, etc.
Of course changing can be avoided. Just keep the old addresses, and design a
better scheme for _new_ addresses. Typos are irrelevant. When you establish
something, it stops being a typo. URLs are identifying strings, not
sentences. Well, it might be annoying if it contains substrings that look
like misspelled words, but so what? Continuity and search engine presence is
more important than helping a casual user to type a URL in the rare cases
where it needs to be _typed_ (or read).
This causes two problems:
- 404 errors for users who have bookmarked this company's web pages
And poor 404 error pages at that.
- (and *most importantly*) current pages are indexed on Google and
other search engines. Changing URLs abruptly creates obvious search
engine positioning and ranking problems.
Indeed. That's crucial.
Simple, some may say, there are *various* URL redirection techniques
hat are both transparent to the users and well accepted by search
engines (particularly 301 - Permanent redirection). Unfortunately, I
don't have access to the web server config file and, as this is a
rather cheap hosting, even though it runs on apache, I cannot cerate
a .htaccess file and put my redirections there.
Then the company should consider better hosting. Cheap hosting with poor
quality is bad marketing. Only rich people and companies can afford cheap
stuff. :-)
Apart from changing hosting provider (which cannot be done at the
moment) or using html or javascript redirection (which is a big no no
for search engines) how can I solve this problem?
You just painted yourself into a corner. So don't change the existing URLs.

If you really must change them, for some odd reason, and you cannot use the
real thing (server-side redirection) create new pages with new, better URLs
and with the contents of the existing pages. That is, create duplicates. Add
<metaredirects into the old pages, so that they still have their content
but get redirected when the user agent obeys such redirects. Also add normal
links to the new URL, with text saying that this is the new address of the
page. Later, if you find that search engines have indexed the new URLs, you
might consider removing the content proper of the old URLs (i.e., leave just
the title, the meta tag, and the link there).

--
Jukka K. Korpela ("Yucca")
http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/

Mar 28 '07 #5

P: n/a
Jukka K. Korpela wrote:
If you really must change them, for some odd reason, and you cannot use
the real thing (server-side redirection) create new pages with new,
better URLs and with the contents of the existing pages. That is, create
duplicates. Add <metaredirects into the old pages, so that they still
have their content but get redirected when the user agent obeys such
redirects. Also add normal links to the new URL, with text saying that
this is the new address of the page. Later, if you find that search
engines have indexed the new URLs, you might consider removing the
content proper of the old URLs (i.e., leave just the title, the meta
tag, and the link there).
Thanks for your post. It was really useful. Yes, I guess I have to
create new pages with better URLs and duplicate them with the old names.
There's only one concern to this: according to this article
(http://tinyurl.com/2yodj9) the rather new Google duplicate content
penalty applies to pages on the same w b site too: "Clarification: there
is a real duplicate content penalty for content that is duplicated with
minor or no variation across the pages of a single site."

Max

Mar 28 '07 #6

P: n/a
Wed, 28 Mar 2007 17:14:10 +0200 from Massimo Fabbri
<mf*********************@tiscali.it>:
as this is a rather cheap
hosting, even though it runs on apache, I cannot cerate a .htaccess file
and put my redirections there.
Why not? What's to stop you from uploading a .htaccess just as you'd
upload any other file?

--
Stan Brown, Oak Road Systems, Tompkins County, New York, USA
http://OakRoadSystems.com/
HTML 4.01 spec: http://www.w3.org/TR/html401/
validator: http://validator.w3.org/
CSS 2.1 spec: http://www.w3.org/TR/CSS21/
validator: http://jigsaw.w3.org/css-validator/
Why We Won't Help You:
http://diveintomark.org/archives/200..._wont_help_you
Mar 29 '07 #7

P: n/a
Stan Brown wrote:
Wed, 28 Mar 2007 17:14:10 +0200 from Massimo Fabbri
<mf*********************@tiscali.it>:
>as this is a rather cheap
hosting, even though it runs on apache, I cannot cerate a .htaccess file
and put my redirections there.

Why not? What's to stop you from uploading a .htaccess just as you'd
upload any other file?
I tried. It gests rejected by the ftp server. I thought it was a problem
of my client, I tried with command line ftp: same outcome.
Finally I tried uploading a file called htacces and tehn rename it .htacces.
Result:
ftpren htaccess .htaccess
350 RNFR accepted - file exists, ready for destination
550 Prohibited file name: .htaccess
ftp>

Max
Mar 29 '07 #8

P: n/a
Massimo Fabbri wrote:
Maybe it's a little OT, but I'll give it try anyway....

I was asked to maintain and further develop an already existing small
company's web site.

I know the golden rule of "eternal" URIs, but in this case changing them
cannot be avoided as they were badly chosen when thwe site was first
delevoped: URLs with spaces, typos, etc. So I have to use new URLs and
put the content in them.

This causes two problems:
- 404 errors for users who have bookmarked this company's web pages
- (and *most importantly*) current pages are indexed on Google and other
search engines. Changing URLs abruptly creates obvious search engine
positioning and ranking problems.

Simple, some may say, there are *various* URL redirection techniques hat
are both transparent to the users and well accepted by search engines
(particularly 301 - Permanent redirection). Unfortunately, I don't have
access to the web server config file and, as this is a rather cheap
hosting, even though it runs on apache, I cannot cerate a .htaccess file
and put my redirections there.

Apart from changing hosting provider (which cannot be done at the
moment) or using html or javascript redirection (which is a big no no
for search engines) how can I solve this problem?

Max
If your Web server is Apache and if the Web site has its own domain, try
the following.

Create your own 404 page. Call it my404.html. It should explain that
the Web site has new page names and that visitors should start
navigating from the home page. Be sure to include the URL to the new
home page in the my404.html page (even if that's the same as the URL to
the old home page). Install my404.html in the root of the domain (in
the same directory as the old home page).

Create an ASCII text file named .htaccess (or use the existing
..htaccess). (Yes, the name starts with a period.) In that file, put
the following:
ErrorDocument 404 /my404.html
Install .htaccess in the root of the domain (where you have installed
my404.html).

This does not require scripting or any special access to the server.
Also, this does not require access to any part of the Web server other
than where your Web site is. All it requires is that you be able to
upload files to the server, that you have your own domain, and that the
server is Apache (which is quite common). There might even be a
variation that works even if you don't have your own domain.

--

David E. Ross
<http://www.rossde.com/>.

Anyone who thinks government owns a monopoly on inefficient, obstructive
bureaucracy has obviously never worked for a large corporation. 1997
Mar 29 '07 #9

P: n/a
On Wed, 28 Mar 2007 18:57:34 -0800, David E. Ross wrote:
> ErrorDocument 404 /my404.html
Install .htaccess in the root of the domain (where you have installed
my404.html).
I would add that one may as well cover some other common errors
at the same time. For example:

ErrorDocument 400 /er/er400.html
ErrorDocument 401 /er/er401.html
ErrorDocument 403 /er/er403.html
ErrorDocument 404 /er/er404.html

In these examples the error files are in a directory called "er."
Mar 29 '07 #10

P: n/a
David E. Ross wrote:
Create an ASCII text file named .htaccess (or use the existing
.htaccess). (Yes, the name starts with a period.) In that file, put
the following:
ErrorDocument 404 /my404.html
Install .htaccess in the root of the domain (where you have installed
my404.html).
Yes, the server is Apache, but as I said, for some reasons, our hosting
provider's ftp server prevents me from uploading a file called .htaccess
or ranaming a file to .htaccess after having uploaded it with another name
This is what I get
ftpren htaccess .htaccess
350 RNFR accepted - file exists, ready for destination
550 Prohibited file name: .htaccess
ftp>

BTW, If I could use .htaccess, the problem would be easily solved: I
probably would not create a custom error 404 page, but rather use the
redirect directive within .htaccess. A few lines like this:
Redirect permanent olduri.html newuri.html

Unfortunately, I can't. I wrote to the hosting provider tech support.
Waiting for an answer.
Massimo
Mar 29 '07 #11

P: n/a
On 28 Mar, 16:14, Massimo Fabbri <mfabbri_SAY_NO_TO_SP...@tiscali.it>
wrote:
Apart from changing hosting provider
Send 301 redirects by configuring your .htaccess

Gain access to .htaccess by having your host enable it, or by moving
host (it's _that_ significant).

Delay any major site changes until you have this access.

Mar 29 '07 #12

P: n/a
Scripsit Massimo Fabbri:
Yes, I guess I have to
create new pages with better URLs and duplicate them with the old
names. There's only one concern to this: according to this article
(http://tinyurl.com/2yodj9)
That is,
http://www.bytestart.co.uk/content/p...-content.shtml
the rather new Google duplicate content
penalty applies to pages on the same w b site too: "Clarification:
there is a real duplicate content penalty for content that is
duplicated with minor or no variation across the pages of a single
site."
The page you mention isn't brand new: it's dated December 2005.

I don't think the "clarification" is much more than a myth, even though the
Google page
http://www.google.com/support/webmas...y?answer=35769
might be construed as supporting it:
"Don't create multiple pages, subdomains, or domains with substantially
duplicate content."
This is one of many warnings, and it hardly means much more than the
principle that you cannot improve your ranking using duplication. That is, N
copies of identical content is treated as one page, basically picking up one
of the copies. It would be pointless for Google to "punish" for duplication
so that duplicated content gets less attention than a simple page.

Anyway, if you think this is a serious risk, and you still want to change
URLs of existing pages (why, really?), then you can change the URLs and
leave just "HTML redirection" pages (with meta tags and links) at the old
URLs.

--
Jukka K. Korpela ("Yucca")
http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/

Mar 29 '07 #13

P: n/a
Thu, 29 Mar 2007 03:52:52 +0200 from Massimo Fabbri
<mf*********************@tiscali.it>:
Stan Brown wrote:
Wed, 28 Mar 2007 17:14:10 +0200 from Massimo Fabbri
<mf*********************@tiscali.it>:
as this is a rather cheap
hosting, even though it runs on apache, I cannot cerate a .htaccess file
and put my redirections there.
Why not? What's to stop you from uploading a .htaccess just as you'd
upload any other file?

I tried. It gests rejected by the ftp server. I thought it was a problem
of my client, I tried with command line ftp: same outcome.
Finally I tried uploading a file called htacces and tehn rename it .htacces.
Result:
ftpren htaccess .htaccess
350 RNFR accepted - file exists, ready for destination
550 Prohibited file name: .htaccess
ftp>
Wow!

I agree with those who said: if you can't get this fixed, get a
different host. There are too many low-cost hosts out there for you
to have to put up with this nonsense.

--
Stan Brown, Oak Road Systems, Tompkins County, New York, USA
http://OakRoadSystems.com/
HTML 4.01 spec: http://www.w3.org/TR/html401/
validator: http://validator.w3.org/
CSS 2.1 spec: http://www.w3.org/TR/CSS21/
validator: http://jigsaw.w3.org/css-validator/
Why We Won't Help You:
http://diveintomark.org/archives/200..._wont_help_you
Mar 30 '07 #14

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