Wednesday, May 02, 2007

301 Equals More Names

"When I took office, only high energy physicists had ever heard of what is called the Worldwide Web.... Now even my cat has its own page." -- Former U.S. President Bill Clinton during the announcement of the Next Generation Internet initiative, 1996
How many websites do you have?

One? 10? 100?

Some marketers think they just have one when in fact they have two. Huh?

Let me explain... if your site is "" did you know that according to the engines you also have this site ""

It's true... although it can be the exact same content it's examined by the engines on it's own merit and is crawled as a separate independent site.

Why is this bad?

Well... instead of one powerful site the engines may see you as two average sites. Or worse, you may lose the true power of the links to your site AND you may run into a problem with duplicate content.

So what to do? Combine them.

It's best to choose one of these sites... and you choose the site with the best opportunity for crawablity. I'll choose the "www" site since it's what most people think of when they'll think of your site. Like those marketers that don't read CVoD, some people won't know that a web site can exist in more than one form. And that's OK.

You NOW know the issue and you'll NOW only use the "www" version on every link you produce. And you NOW know to double check those links as they post.

But don't stop there...

Do an audit of your site, and fix any links that don't use the "www" version. For those of you that use a CMS, you may find that your application will often link internally without the "www".

Oh, and don't forget to check the site map too! We don't want to change a link one place and not the other.

That's easy, right?

The harder part is to continue the audit to the external links. You'll need to review your back links and see where they are pointing. Contact your partners and advertisers if they are linking back to you without the "www".

Not done yet...

The final and most important step is to do a 301 redirect on the "non-www" version of the URL. Thus, if anyone from this day forward uses the non "www" version they'll be automatically redirected to the proper version.

This is a good thing... really.

A 301 redirect is the most efficient and engine friendly method for web page redirection. AND it's not that hard to implement. This minor tech procedure will preserve your site ranking (your history) and if you have to change file names or move pages around on a LIVE site it's the safest option. (As an FYI: The code "301" is interpreted as "moved permanently".)

The engines like this type of redirect and will forward any back links, and additional indexed pages from the non "www" version to the proper version. This will create a new more powerful, but concise, web site... and Google likes that.

So much so that this combining of "sites" actually has been known to increase the search engine rankings for the site. Of course there is no guarantee of that. I can only assume if you do get a bump in rankings that it's because your site was a bit of a mess in the eyes of the engines before this redirect.

"But I'm a marketer... I can't do this."

Is that what you're tell me?

OK... no worries. Call your tech guy, gal or company. Explain what I've just said and let them do their voodoo.

Better yet... show them this... I've listed a couple of methods to implement URL Redirects:


IIS Redirect

* In internet services manager, right click on the file or folder you wish to redirect
* Select the radio titled "a redirection to a URL".
* Enter the redirection page
* Check "The exact url entered above" and the "A permanent redirection for this resource"
* Click on 'Apply'

ColdFusion Redirect
<.cfheader statuscode="301" statustext="Moved permanently">
<.cfheader name="Location" value="">

PHP Redirect
Header( "HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently" );
Header( "Location:" );

ASP Redirect
<%@ Language=VBScript %>
Response.Status="301 Moved Permanently";

ASP .NET Redirect

JSP (Java) Redirect
response.setHeader( "Location", "" );
response.setHeader( "Connection", "close" );

CGI PERL Redirect
$q = new CGI;
print $q->redirect("");

Ruby on Rails Redirect
def old_action
headers["Status"] = "301 Moved Permanently"
redirect_to ""


Did I mention... I am sure I did but this is so important I am going to mention it again... if you are upgrading your web site and as part of the upgrade, you have to move or rename some files... a 301 redirect can also help you keep your traffic and engine page rank. Otherwise, you run the risk of losing visitors to your site who follow a search engine link and end up with the dreaded "Error 404 - File not found".

The conversion rate on that page is awful. I'd suggest you stay away from that. Instead, use the 301 redirect and keep the names coming in.