We recently moved from a custom CMS system to Expression Engine. Overall I like it, though we have seen a bit of a drop in Google referrals despite keeping the design and layout of our pages (largely) the same. One thing I noticed is that previously all our individual article pages ended in ‘.html’ or ‘.shtml’ whereas with the new CMS they all just end in a slash. So my question: does Google give priority to content that ends with a ‘known’ HTML ending like .html or .shtml, or doesn’t it care?
The Search Engines won’t give a ranking preference on the basis of the filename or URL. Whether it is a .html, a .php an .asp or even a .pdf doesn’t matter – as long as they are able to crawl, and index your pages, the extension (or lack thereof) is irrelevant.
However, it sounds to me like although you say that the design and layout of you pages is much the same – the names of those pages (i.e. the URL used to access the page) has changed. This is quite a common issue when switching CMSs, and unless you are careful, you can lose much of the credibility (and hard earned rankings) achieved by your old site.
If any of the pages in your new site have a different URL
– they will NOT show up in Search Results until they have
been re-crawled and indexed by the search engines.
To check to see which pages on your site have been indexed, do a Google search for site:yourdomain.com (substituting your own domain name of course). This will provide a list of all the pages currently indexed by Google. It may include a mixture of Old and New pages. Try clicking on the old Page links – if they still come up with the old pages or you get 404 (file not found) errors – read on and I’ll explain how to fix this. If they do still link to the old pages, then you may want to delete these from your server too.
It is critical that as part of any site redesign process you ensure that that you put in place page redirects – this will ensure that anyone trying to access one of your old pages, will be redirected to the new page. This is clearly important from the user perspective – to ensure that they get the current information (and not some old – out of date page). But it is also important from an SEO perspective – any links to the old page (from external sites) need to go to the New page, and the search engines (who have presumably indexed your old pages) also need to be told that a new page exists.
Notifying Search engines and fixing backlinks for all your pages may sound like a very daunting task, however, there fortunately is a (reasonably) simple solution – our friend the 301 redirect.
301 Redirects are a server based redirect and are reasonably easy to setup (although can be a little technical, so you may need help from your developer). The actual technique will vary, depending on your server environment, but effectively a 301 redirect will simply redirect visitors trying to access your old pages to the correct new page. Also know as a permanent redirect, 301 redirects also tell Search Engines that this is a permanent change, and to update their index (and ranking data) accordingly.
you can find more posts about 301 redirects on this site – or for some more technical info I suggest that you take a look at this good overview on 301 redirect techniques by Steven Hargrove.
Ireckon Web Marketing
I have the same question ,almost
Old Site, Hosting Provider A, we make a new website with a new cms platform (the url will change). We do 301 redirect from the old site to the new website pages?
i forgot to say, the the new website, will be on a new hosting provider B
A New Host Provider should make no difference as far as the 301 redirects go (although you should be careful not to change your provider too much or it may impact on rankings). You need to make sure that 301s are done ASAP after the CMS/URL changes(preferably at the same time). If you’ve not got too many pages, you could create the redirects manually – if you have lots it may be possible to dynamically generate them. It may also be worth your while looking into the “canonical tag”.
I have noticed that pdf pages don’t rank as well as html pages.
.php and .html there is no real difference in ranking ability on these extensions.
Nick, you are right that PDFs don’t seem to appear in the search results as often as PHP and HTML files – but I doubt that is just because of the extension – or type of file that they are.
There are a LOT more PHP and HTML files online then there are PDFs – but more importantly PDF files tend to get fewer links to them (and we all know that links are important for rankings – right). Typically a PDF doc on a site may get only a single link, whereas html based pages are more likely to get multiple links – similarly external links are more likely to go to a html page then to a PDF.
A “10 page” PDF document can only have links to the start of the doc – whereas 10 pages of HTML may have separate links to all pages (and even with pages via anchors).
There are certainly situations where PDFs are appropriate – however, because of the flexibility, crawlability and link benefits of HTML/PHP I would always recommend these as a 1st choice.