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    Avoiding duplicate content when changing to mod-rewrite


    I'm updating a website so that the urls rewrite from;

    domain.com/page.php?id=1&color=2

    to something like

    domain.com/cars/ferrari/red

    This is working well within the site but all the links on Google are in the old format and when you click on them, the rewrite doesn't work. Is there something I can do to force an old link to rewrite or will Google figure it out if I resubmit the new sitemap? There's very little info about this online???
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    SEO Chat High Scholar (3500 - 3999 posts)

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    Depending on what system/cms your using should they not auto redirect to the new url?

    If not I think (think lol) that you may have to setup redirects from the old urls to the new ones, but a lot of systems auto do this so try clearing your history etc to make sure its not just your browser showing the old url rather then changing to the new one once on your site.

    Also I think you want to add the canonical tag to any pages after ?id= to prevent duplicate content, but Im not sure if thats right as I aint worked with such links for some time.
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    I'm with NathanielB. You should do a 301 bounce as well, otherwise what's the point? You're going to shed a ton of PR without a proper 301 structure.

    Also, as a general rule, I'd avoid changing established URL structures without a VERY good reason. Your URL may have keywords now, but URLs play such a small role that it might not be worth the short term SEO hit.
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    If the examples you have given are the kind of thing on your website then you should definitely change them as you are suggesting.

    I disagree with Highland in that I saw dramatic improvements when I changed URLs away from dynamic using mod-rewrite. A page called mysite.com/cheese-biscuits.htm will rank higher for "cheese biscuits" than one called mysite.com/biscuits.php?flavor=cheese - all other things being equal.

    Otherwise the canonical tag and your sitemap.xml are the key here and 301 is actually not that important - you can even keep it active.

    Why am I hungry now?

    The canonical tag will tell Google and others even though you found this page as mysite.com/biscuits.php?flavor=cheese please remember it as mysite.com/cheese-biscuits.htm.

    In your sitemap.xml file only have the latter - there is a video around from Matt Cutts (can't remember where) and he covers this saying that when Google is in doubt it checks the sitemap.xml and whatever is there takes precedence.

    Ah! - here it is: http://youtu.be/Cm9onOGTgeM

    Comments on this post

    • drelly agrees : Thanks, that's a good point about the canonical tag!
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    Thanks for the feedback. I think Doodled is right. The combination of a sitemap update and canonical tag should prevent any issues.

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