Archive for October, 2008

Best Practice: Set redirects for a redesign launch

When we redesign and relaunch a Web site we change the URL for every page, image and other asset. Other sites that reference the base domain such as www.sitename.org will see no difference.  However, many sites code in an links to either internal pages or other assets.  It is then a good idea to utilize the built in functions in the Web server (and sometimes CMS) to redirect key URLs from the old site directly to new pages.

For example, a redirect statement make be placed in the Apache confirmation to direct traffic to https://www.simename.org/Intro.php to the new home page.

Besides these redirects, it is also important to have a custom 404 (file not found) error page.  This error page should have the regular site wrapper with a statement that the content has moved.  Be sure to have WebTrends, Hitbox or Google Analytics tracking code on this page to capture these errors.

The combination of these items can help reduce disruptions with the relaunch.

Further Tips

1. Before the site is launched, register for Google Webmaster Tools.  Then when the site is launched place in the proper verification code from Google.  Then you will be able to push Google to index the site faster and have it you will be able to more easily set Google to remove references to old pages.

2. Once the new site is launched, have a look at the error logs to see which pages generate 404 (page not found) errors.  Such a function is built into Drupal and other CMS’.  Otherwise you may need access to a log file analyzer as HitBox, WebTrends and Google Analytics do an okay job, but not a great job on trapping these errors. Once you do find these errors, set the redirects in Apache to push the requests to the pages that have replaced the old content.

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