Can we change the titles of articles and blogs in our website?

Hi,

Can we change the titles of articles and blogs in our website?
I have a site where i have 200+ articles and blogs.
They are 6 months old and already indexed by many search engines.

Now i am thinking of changing the titles of all as they are not so good and one word mostly.
As the site creates the URL with the title. changing it would it be an issue?
Would search engine listing of my site be affected.

Regards
Raja
LVL 11
bsharathAsked:
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robertkennedyConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Based on the information you have given I understand the following:

1) you have a number of articles on your website/blog and would like to change the titles of them
2) the URL of these pages will be modified by changing the tites
3) the URL's are already indexed by many search engines

Given this information, i beleive that by changing the titles on these blogs would impact your search engine listings and your site ranking. Not only will the search engine listings be affected by the change in URL but any backlinks or other sites that link to these existing URLs would end up with broken links to your site and will also affect your sites reputation and hence affect its ranking.

The best way to do this if you wished to change the titles woudl be to ensure that a 301 redirect is created for each of the existing URLs that points to the updated URLS. Depending on what you are using to publish your website and how this is hosted this solution may not be possible.
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iamozymandiasCommented:
Are you using a content management system (Drupal, Joomla, DotNetNuke, PHPNuke)?

If so they all behave differently by changing names. Some behave the way that robertkennedy suggests, others do not.

If you are using a service such as Blogspot or hosted WordPress, then your options are determined more by the hoster.
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bsharathAuthor Commented:
I have a drupal site
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freshcontentConnect With a Mentor Commented:
I would suggest that you should think carefully before you change the URL of your article or blog entry.

I've been involved in a URL change for a large number of pages on a website, and even with 301 redirects for the URL changes, we took a greater than 30% reduction in search engine referral traffic from Google and other search engines.

If you have significant links to your site (backlinks), and you change the URL that they refer to, even with 301 redirects you will take a search engine referral hit.

Overall, I would advise NOT changing URLs if at all possible as it will negatively affect your search engine referrals.

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bsharathAuthor Commented:
Ok thanks
I do not have backlinks for the ones i want to change
Also if i change the title the URL changes and would google not reindex the correct ones and remove the old ones?
Will google show the old one and the new one also always?
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robertkennedyCommented:
Google will eventually remove the old links if they are no longer present. Google will 'crawl' your website every so often and should automatically update the links. The pages that change will not be available in search results for some time though, until they are re-indexed.
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iamozymandiasConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Drupal uses the name for the original creation, but when you change the name of the page, the URL does not change (I am using Drupal versions 6 & 7). You can view/modify the URLs for all pages on your Drupal site at Administer>Site Building URL Aliases.

Google (and other search engines) work quickly enough these days that it shouldn't be much of an issue as long as thelinks aren't broiken. In fact, these will appear as 'updates' to the URL and will show 'new' content.

Also, it would be easy to change by going into MyPHPAdmin and editing the table directly. If you are not familiar with SQL, don't so this.
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bsharathAuthor Commented:
Ok thanks
YOu mean i can change the title and allow the URL to change and within few days google will reindex and remove the old link and add the new one
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iamozymandiasCommented:
I agree with the other comments that changing your URL should be avoided if possible (internally, the page is maintained as a 'node' that doesn't change).

However, if your traffic is not solely generated by search engine redirects, then you should be fine by doing this. Google will cleanup it's database within a few days (in my experience). If you have a page that was significantly high in the ranks, it will take a little longer, but Google does drop broken links.
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iamozymandiasCommented:
my biggest concern would be for any visitors who have linked to the article and try to revisit later. If that is not a big concern, then it shouldn't be too uncomfortable of a change.
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freshcontentConnect With a Mentor Commented:
bsharath - Your question says "Can I change the title of an article AND allow the URL to change and within a few days google will reindex and remove the old link and add the new one".
Well, Google may see the 301 redirection, but it may take them longer than a few days to remove the old link from their new index and replace it with the new URL.

If you don't have backlinks for the pages that you want to change, that removes some of the risk of changing the URL.

In general, it is NOT a good practice to change URLs of existing content, but if you are aware of the risks and downside(s) to the change and you don't have backlinks pointing to those URLs, then you may want to do it.

I would still give you my recommendation with you not to change URLs of existing content.
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