I changed my URL titles and I now have a problem

Sebastien Tremblay
Sebastien Tremblay used Ask the Experts™
Hi guys, I hope that my problem is not too complicated or too specific

I recently changed all my URL titles. Here's an example :


The first one is the old URL and the second one is the new one. I made this for all my products.

It's important to note that the URL format is set within an URL Rewrite which consists of :
<rule name="RewriteArticle" stopProcessing="true">
          <match url="^comparatif/([0-9]+)/([_0-9a-z-]+)" />
          <action type="Rewrite" url="pages/voir_comparatif.aspx?id_comparatif={R:1}&amp;name={R:2}" redirectType="Permanent" />

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So R:1 represents the ID and R:2 the product name

When we browse to one or another of these URLs it obviously works because the title is just for better optimization and is IRRELEVANT for showing content. In other words, my server side code takes the ID and displays the webpage based on that ID.

Problem is, I forced google to reindex my pages via the Google Search Console and now when I type site:lecomparateur.net in google the 2 different URLs are shown in the results. Along with that, it looks like Google made my site drop A LOT in rankings since these changes (don't know if it's related but I changed almost nothing else since). Do you think they consider it as duplicate content? Not sure....

So I browsed to 'URL Temporary Removal' from Google Search Console to delete all the old URLs. They are now in a pending mode awaiting process.

Is it the right thing to do?

Thanks in advance
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Principal Software Engineer
There's no telling why Google does anything, because they don't release any information on how they rate sites.  However, it seems pretty clear that they are seeing "duplicate" content from your site due to the two different URLs pointing at the same content, and it is reasonable to infer that Google doesn't like duplicated content pointed at by multiple URLs.

In this situation I would be inclined to (a) remove the rewrite rule, which will invalidate all the old URLs, (b) wait one day, and then (c) ask Google to re-spider the site.  This will get rid of the "duplicate" content problem completely, whereas if the rewrite rule is left in effect it will continue due to any links pointing at your site.

An unfortunate side effect is that it may break external links into your site from other sites, but I see no way to avoid it.


Thanks for your answer Dr. Klahn. So if I understand well all the followed 'old' links will create an error during at least one day... I know that my website don't have a lot of visitors yet but I don't want to have broken links pointing at my website... and I'm sure google will not like this either.. :(


Could a canonical link get the job done?

If I put this in my <head> would it work?

<link rel="canonical" href="https://www.lecomparateur.net/comparatif/21/machine-a-cafe" />

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So when the user is coming from the link : https://www.lecomparateur.net/comparatif/21/meilleur-machine-a-cafe 

google will then know that for that particular page the link https://www.lecomparateur.net/comparatif/21/machine-a-cafe is the link that should be used instead? and maybe after time google will get rid of the old one? no?
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Well I think I fixed it with replacing the old formulations with the new ones and a 301 redirect

If HttpContext.Current.Request.Url.AbsoluteUri.Contains("meilleur-") Or HttpContext.Current.Request.Url.AbsoluteUri.Contains("meilleure-") Or HttpContext.Current.Request.Url.AbsoluteUri.Contains("comparatif-") Then
            Response.Redirect(HttpContext.Current.Request.RawUrl.Replace("meilleur-", "").Replace("meilleure-", "").Replace("comparatif-", ""))
        End If

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What you guys think of it? IMO google will realize someday that the old URLs are not good anymore?
Dr. KlahnPrincipal Software Engineer

IMO google will realize someday that the old URLs are not good anymore?

Well, my site has been up for 15 years and Google still explores links that were deleted ten years ago.  (I have no idea where they are finding them.)  However, on a new site this should not be a major issue.


Thanks Dr. Klahn!

what do you think about my solution? For the duplicate issue I mean..
Jeffrey Dake Senior Director of Technologyy
If you have the 301 redirects and the canonical url tag you should be good. Those are your most important signals in letting Google know that the urls are replacements for each other. We have done migrations wit hurls and found if you have both of those in place your ranking should not be affected
Dr. KlahnPrincipal Software Engineer

Problem addressed and explained.  Points distributed among contributors in perceived order of magnitude of contribution.

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