Redirecting Pages

   If you've ever rebuilt a website, there's a good chance that the URLs of the pages will change. For example, on my old Original Green site (built in iWeb) the iWeb URL-naming mechanism resulted in this URL:

   as the name of the blog post entitled The Danger of Wishes. Sandvox's URL-naming mechanism, on the other hand, resulted in this URL:

   So if you don't do anything, then anyone with a link to the old page will go there instead of going to the corresponding page on the new site. This isn't good, because the old site won't be updated anymore, and you don't want visitors to go there and think you've quit working on it. It's even worse if you take the old site down because then the link will be broken, resulting in a "page can't be found" error message. What to do?

   A friend said the most SEO-friendly way is a 301 Redirect, as it preserves your Google page ranking for the old URL as it's passed to the new one. But Google "301 Redirect" and unless you're a code geek, it's a quagmire of unfamiliar terms. I had no idea where to start.

I kept running into notes that various types of 301 redirects only work on certain servers. I have no idea whether A2 Hosting uses Macs, Windows, Linux, or whatever. But while Googling "A2 Hosting 301 Redirect" I ran across a reference to "Control panel redirects." Sure enough, right there on the A2 Hosting Control Panel, down in the Domains window, is a tool called Redirects. So I don't have to learn anything about .htaccess files, how to make them, or if they even work on A2's servers. I just open the tool and tell it where to redirect each page in the old site. Really cool!

   This is a classic example of a simple user interface tool that saves me many hours or maybe days of sifting through arcane code stuff when I need to be doing other things. Hopefully, Sandvox will have a Design editor someday that does this. Web Design for the Rest of Us.

   There are many hard ways to do it, as I discovered over a couple days of Googling. But if you get lucky, there's an easy way. Someone suggested that my site hosting company (A2 Hosting) might have a way of doing it. I went to the Control Panel, and sure enough, right there under Domains, is "Redirects." It'll take you to the page where you actually create the redirects. It's not hard, but if you have a lot of pages, it'll take awhile.

   One very important note: make sure you start at the furthest-nested pages, gradually working yourself out to your home page, which should be done last. Otherwise, if you do the top-level pages first, you'll never be able to get back into the lower-level pages unless you just happen to remember their URLs… a feat that only the geekiest of us could pull off.

© 2012 The Guild Foundation Press