How to deal with all the changed URL links when moving large eCommerce website to a new platform with new categories and URLs

Hi,

We have a client who hosts approximately 10,000 products on his current ecommerce website. We are upgrading him to a new platform and will be importing his existing database of products. The old categories will be re-mapped to new categories. Likewise the current URLs will not necessarily be relevant in the new system. We don't want him to lose any rankings? What is the best approach to deal with this transition?

How do we deal with all the old URLs?

I think we can get these from the database we are going to import - should we just automatically write these out to .htaccess (301 redirect) to the new url (there will be 10,000 of them)?

OR

Should we try to somehow keep using the old URLs, which are less than ideal and don't really logically match up with the new category hierarchy?


OR

Please help, I am a little baffled by what is the best approach?

Thanks in Advance...
chris08Asked:
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selvolConnect With a Mentor Commented:
You can Keep the old links and add  a canonical link on them. As apposed to just Deleting the old pages pages, I'd wait a few weeks and slowly replace the old pages with redirects to the new pages.

http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2009/02/specify-your-canonical.html
<link rel="canonical" href="http://www.example.com/product.php?item=swedish-fish" />\\\\

Selvol
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chris08Author Commented:
That sounds like a complex solution - would the value of this be markedly better then the 301 redirect method?

eg: here's a typical example for one of the potential 10,000 products that will have a new URL:

Old Domain: www.ecommercesite.com/home-accessories/vases/bright-shiny-vase
Old Breadcrumb: Home>Home Accessories >Vases?Bright Shiny Vase

None of the above categories/sub-categories (Home Accessories, Vases) exist in the new website. Trying to manage and have two complete sets of categories (presumably one visible through the main site structure/menus and one that doesn't link from anywhere in the website?) sounds like a management headache and I don't understand how Google would prefer that to just getting 301 redirects to the new page.

Can you please clarify how that would work in a completely new website and why Google would prefer this method and how you would transition away from this to the final solution?

Many thanks
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Bernard S.Connect With a Mentor CTOCommented:
1 - You can also redirect with a program, eg in PHP

2 - So I would probably consider placing the 10K + links into a database with old link / new link info and make 301 redirects
see http://www.php.net/manual/en/function.header.php

3 - So I would change the index.php of the new application to first check if this is an "old-link pattern", and if no proceeed with the normal application.
Only if it is an "old-link pattern", then check if it is an old link (and redirect) otherwise if redirect to the new link or generate an error 404
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chris08Author Commented:
After doing a lot more research it still seams like the jury is out on this one. I think we'll be keeping them alive for a month or two with canonical ref then retire them to 301s....

thanks..
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Bernard S.CTOCommented:
Glad we could provide some help. Thx for the points and grade.
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