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    Major Site URL Structure change....how can we minimize impact..

    Currently our content management system is setup in a way that if an article is published into multiple topics/categories a unique URL is generated for each placement of that article in each category.

    Needless to say, this may be causing duplicate content issues, as well as spreading out the page rank of that article amongst the multiple replications of that article.

    Each URL generated for articles in multiple topics only differs by a slight URL change such as: /category15 and /category16 etc etc.

    We're about to begin a project that will create only 1 URL for each article posted, regardless of the number of categories that article appears within.

    Our concern is that our rankings for the previous URLs will be dropped, and we'd like to explore best practice methods for making this change.

    Should we:
    remove all URLs of article pages using the google sitemap tools. Then resubmit all our new URLs.


    create thousands of 301 redirects from the old URLs into the new URLs?

    We're just looking for the best approach to minimize any lost rankings as well as providing google with the most up to date sitemap.

    Your help is appreciated.
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    A 301 redirect would be by far and away the best approach. In a situation like this I'd recommend creating the 301 using server side scripting rather than trying to create thousands of individual .htaccess commands.

    It should be relatively simple to do by comparing the url used in the browser bar with the url that should appear. If it doesn't match then redirect.

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