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Changing your URL, Managing Search Engines & Redirect Pages


Been There - Done That!!


I started with a small family genealogy site in 1995 and gradually increased the site with the 5 surnames in my family.  Later a club page, civil war relic page, ect. were added (nearly 80 addresses).   I knew I should get my own URL but just hated all of the hassle associated with the job of changing URL'S, especially knowing how many folks had many of my pages bookmarked.   I finally decided to "bite the bullet" and change my own URL (Universal Resource Locator).  

Well I bit that bullet and now I am now rather than the long name I used before:  I learned some important lessons in the process which you will find outlined below if you are considering the change.

  • Managing search engines is of extreme importance in this sequence of events.  The very first thing to do when you decide for sure that you are going to change is to insert instructions to any visiting search engine robots (spiders)  NOT TO INDEX your site.  Insert:

      <meta name="robots" content="noindex,nofollow">

    directly under the <head> tag in your html code for all of existing pages to take care of this problem.  This statement makes sure that search engine robots DO NOT INDEX YOUR OLD PAGES nor do the robots follow to any other address on your server.  The last thing you want is a fresh index to your old page - - - what you want is a fresh index to your new site.

    Since 100% of the robot's don't support meta tag discussed above one additional task should be completed.  This is simply to place a "robots.txt" file in the top-level of your URL space.  The robots file should include two lines - exactly:

    User-agent: *
    Disallow: / 

    When a visiting robot visits your site, it first checks for a "/robots.txt" and if it exists the robot will not visit any other parts of your site.  Insure that if you use this file that no others share your space on the exact address.

  • As you complete your new pages you will want to put up a Redirect Page for each major page on your site.   This basically is a statement noting that the site has moved, gives a new address and includes  "redirect" code to automatically take the viewer to the new page.  Check out the code to redirect to my new site in 10 seconds:

    <meta http-equiv="refresh" content="10;URL=">

You will find out several things about search engines as a result of this exercise - -   how bad most are and that without a doubt - - -  Google  is the best.  You can submit your new site to Google and get listed quicker however robots will visit your new site and it's just a matter of time until you will start getting hits.  (that of course depends on your meta descriptions - - - but that's another topic)

Another thing you may do is conduct searches on your old site on all of the major search engines and note where they are listed.  It's then a process of notifying someone at that site that you have a new URL and ask for an update.   Here you will find out, painfully, that many don't give a rip if they update your site or not.  Its a  long and painful process but at least you are going in the right direction.   

Of course after this change you can park your URL on any provider's server very easily,  without all of the problems of changing addresses, html code for the pages and everyone's links.


Hope this helps - - - and Good Luck!  

Jack Masters


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