Redirects and Rewriting

Dec 15, 2004 - 6:03 pm 0 by
Filed Under SES Chicago 2004

Bruce Clay was first up to the podium. What is a redirect? To display another web page for the web address that you are visiting. Why do people use redirects? If you rename or move a page, if you move a domain, if you have multiple domains pointing to the same content. Types of redirects include (1) JavaScript (2) Meta Refresh (3) 302: Found Elsewhere (Temporary Redirect) (4) 301: Permanently moved. has more information. How do I know if im using a 301 or 302 redirect? Bruce has a tool at and an other tool at How to implement a permanent redirect? On an apache server you modify the .htaccess or apache config file, use the redirect directive or mod_rewrite. On an IIS server; configure the IIS Web service properties or modify it through the program. IP Funneling works by taking all your domain names, you point to one of those IPs (not the production domain name) and that parked domain name 301 redirects to the production domain name. How to make dynamic URLs indexable? Rewrite URLs with query strings to appear as static URLs. On Apache use mod_rewrite on IIS server use an ISAPI filter product such as Qwerksoft IISRewrite.

Matt Bailey from the Karcher Group. He says which should i do? Redirect or Rewrite? Rewrite when you want to make an html to dynamic, rewriting content, user bookmarks. Redirect when you change the URL, also when your changing the index page to a deeper level page, changing pages within a domain name. Should I use a 301 or 301? depends on marketing objectives, not the same for every site and every situation. Case study #1, basic asp site, limited rankings for product terms, read for redirect was because the company had to go to a parent company's domain name. They made a custom 404 page, and then did a link campaign. In month one they had 2,000 visitors, in month 2 the new domain came in and then dived under 1,000 visitors, in month 4 they started link building and traffic was back to 2,000, in month 6 the traffic then doubled. Case study #2, they had a basic html site, #1 ranking for product terms, reason for redesign (CMS, ecommerce, increase conversions). Created a new site in .NET, created new keyword based URL and did rewrite for the old page URLs so that they got to the new page. Case # 3, existing site in Java, needed new site for increased conversions, had over 3,000 URLs linked in their PPC ads. they created a new site in PHP and created static looking URLs, used mod_rewrite to maintain the old PPC links, and added robot.txt for old PPC URLs and new PPC URLs were converted over time.

Jake Baillie from True Local (BakedJake) he said he will go through this very quickly, Ill try to keep up and it will be very technical. what are rewrite rules? Regular expression based statement that tells a web server to do something, most common use is to map a virtual URL to a physical resource, essentially provides a fast and consistent way to address URL issues of any type. Dangers of using rewrite URLs include; duplicate content, infinite loops and you actually have to do work. When not to use rewrite rules? If you site is fully indexed, then you do not need to rewrite. If you have a relatively small site, you don't need them. If you have an architecture problem to solve, try and solve the architecture problem first in the code. Installing rewrite rules he skimmed over, its very technical. He showed some really neat ways to use mod_rewrite for many purposes.

Rob Sullivan from Enquiro basically showed four case studies. Tiring out and I personally dislike case studies. One thing the studies showed was that (1) soon after the new URLs were indexed the traffic spiked up and then shot back down, and then soon after the traffic went back up again and (2) the number of indexed pages doesn't necessarily have to increase, the relevancy and uniqueness of those pages do.

Jon Glick from Yahoo was the last speaker, who will share the policies of Yahoo in terms of redirects. 301 is permanent and 302 is a temp move. A meta refresh that is less then 1 sec as a 301 and longer then 1 sec then its a temp move. I couldn't get the Yahoo! Redirect handling rules cheat sheet, but I will ask Danny to send me the slide so we can post it. He then goes into why rewriting URLs help.

Update: Aaron Ferstman, the outstanding PR guy over at Yahoo, sent me the slide. I saved it as a PDF for you to download; Download Yahoo Redirect Slide by Jon Glick


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