When you are building your own website, sooner or later you run into the question – how to handle duplicate content? What do I mean by that? Imagine that you have a highly visited web page, which receives most of the daily visits. You are planning to re-design the website, and give this web page a new URL and a fresh new look, but don’t want to lose all that traffic from that old page. And you can’t keep both of them online, since they will have most likely the same content text-wise – something, which is often penalized by search engines. How do you proceed from there?

The best practice is to do a 301 redirect. The 301 message on the Internet is handled by the search engine as: moved permanently. Here is how you can make a 301 redirect for your web page:

With PHP:

The code needs to be placed in the Header section of the website, so that the search engine can read it first.

Header( “HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently” );
Header( “Location: http://www.new-url.com” );

With .htaccess:

RewriteEngine on
RewriteRule ^old\.php$ http://www.domain.com/new.php [R=permanent,L]

The code above will direct all the traffic from the old.php to the new.php page.

With the rel=”canonical” directive:

If you run an online store and want to sell a custom made handbag, which is available in several colors, and decide to dedicate a separate page on your site for each color, then you have about 3 or 4 identical pages. You can use the rel=”canonical” element to direct all traffic to the page with the most popular color.

This will lead a search engine to point all the traffic from the similar pages to the page you have specified. This code needs to be placed in the header section of all the web pages you wish to lead somewhere else.

With the URL Redirection Manager in the Web Hosting Control Panel:

If you don’t like to meddle with code, or with new file creation, or anything like that, you can use the handy URL Redirection Manager available with all our shared web hosting plans, where a simple web interface will allow you to choose which pages to be redirected and what redirection code to be used.