Our second case study has been brought to us by PlumberSurplus.com. In this case study we explore what happens with all the URLs on a site are changed. In this case study the decision was made to change their URLs from dynamic URLs such as this one: http://www.plumbersurplus.com/category.aspx?Cat=991 to more user friendly static URLs such as this one: http://www.plumbersurplus.com/Cat/Bathroom-Faucets/991.
The changes were completed on December 22, 2006. In addition to remapping the URLs, Plumber Surplus was careful to 301 redirect the existing URLs to the new ones. This was done on a URL by URL basis, using asp.net to parse the request and rewrite the URL.
The majority of the new URLs were indexed by Yahoo and Google within 2 weeks. MSN took somewhat longer. Within two months, rankings began to improve, and the number of indexed pages began to increase. Here are the detailed results:
|Date||Visitors Per Day|
Note that Plumber Surplus did undertake other SEO activities during this timeframe, so it's hard to credit all the search engine ranking and indexing improvements to this change alone. However, no major new links were obtained in this timeframe, and URL structure can influence search rankings.
Equally important, a massive URL move involving every page on the web site except the home page was completed without incident. Everything was resolved by the search engines in a matter of weeks. This is a clear example of how this should be done.
However, be aware that such massive moves do come with risk. There is no such thing as a risk free strategy when it comes to search engines, and your mileage may vary.