Thursday, August 04, 2005

SES Indexing Summit 2: Redirects

There's a very interesting thread over at SEW that discusses how search engine's should handle redirects. As anyone in the industry knows, the search engines have been giving SEM professionals headaches for years now on this issue. The main problem is that Google behaves differently than Yahoo, and MSN differently then Ask...you get the picture. No standards.

Fact is, URLs change. Just this week one of my accounts (large e-commerce site) converted to a completely new backend system, totally changing every URL on the site. We're doing our best to use 301 redirects in order to match the old URLs with the corresponding new URLs, but there will be a fallout. To them, the benefits of the bew backend were worth the loss of traffic for a time.

Tony and I are already preparing for another battle (read: headache) later this year when a client (a nationwide bank) will change domains. We've delivered to them a risk assesment regarding the potential negative impact to their SEM program, as well as recommendations for making the transition as smooth as possible. Do we blame them for wanting to change domains? Absolutely not. By all accounts, in the long run they will be much better off for changing. We just wish it weren't so difficult for the search engines to recognize and adjust accordingly.

Hopefully Danny and his crew will spark major progress in this regard. I'd love to be able to throw away the bottle of Aspirin that sits on my desk labelled "redirection painkiller".


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