I have a retail site. The site is old (registered 1997), and seems to reap some benefit in search rankings due to its age. The URLs of the site were quite messy, though, and we decided to rewrite them to improve the number of pages indexed by Google, Yahoo, and MSN.
Sample old URL structure (http://www.domain.com/products.asp?pID=32&cID=2)
Sample NEW structure (http://www.domain.com/product-name-32.html)
My concerns are the following:
1. There seems to be a good deal of weight put on the age of a domain when returning results, especially in Google. Does the same hold true for the age of a page on a given domain? If the domain age is the only thing that matters, then introducing new URLs should not affect our current rankings. If page age is also considered,then new URLs could hurt us tremendously as we would be losing the old ones.
2. What's your input on the following 2 scenarios.. which is a better approach?:
A) Flip all URLs at the same time and go live. 301 redirect all old URLs to their new location.
B) Keep all current URLs live. Introduce new URLS as orphan pages to gradually grow site. Keep a spider map to old URLs forever, but flip all main areas to use new URL structure. There would be duplicate content concerns here, but as long as the pages are different enough, we should effectively double the size of the site while introducing our new and improved URL structure.
3. Does a 301 redirect from the old URL to the new one preserve any legacy "value" of the original URL in the new URL?
4. Is there a concern of "shocking" the search engine by changing an established site's makeup, size, etc. drastically in a short period of time?
Looking forward to everyone's input here. Really want to make the URL switch, but don't want to destroy the site's rankings in the process.