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I just remade from scratch a website for a client, the client ask me to preserve their ranking by making 301 redirect from the original URL to the new URL.

For example the following URL:

plumber-directory.my-website.com/john-smith-city-1.php

became

directory.my-website.com/plumber/city/john-smith.html

So i put the website online for few days until the 301 partially kicks in the Google results. Then the client call me back to tell me that his boss want to switch back to the ancients URLs >_<

So I put a new 301 redirect:

directory.my-website.com/plumber/city/john-smith.html

Reverted to

plumber-directory.my-website.com/john-smith-city-1.php

Because google had just few days to assimilate the new URLs, it have now the two kinds of URLs in it's own result pages. Also the ranking of the website keeps falling down every day, i suspect google to mistaking those redirects for duplicate content.

Is there something i can do to avoid a total loss of rankings?

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Is there something i can do to avoid a total loss of rankings? -- yes, slap that boss in the face. (kidding, kidding) –  Andrew Heath Jul 5 '12 at 9:15
    
The Boss caused his own problem, he fell into the Dunning-Kruger effect trap. You now have the experience to tell the next client that it's a total ruination to not let Google proceed to follow 301 redirects and reestablish ranking on the new URL plan. –  Fiasco Labs Aug 23 '13 at 15:09

1 Answer 1

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Google does not consider 301 redirects to be duplicate content.

What might be happening, though, is that when Google first crawled your original redirects, they added the target pages to their queue for later recrawling. But by the time they got around to actually crawling those pages, you'd reversed the redirects so that they were pointing back to the original URLs. So now Google thinks you've got pairs of pages redirecting to each other in an infinite loop, which is obviously not a useful result to return to users.

If so, the problem should resolve itself as soon as Google recrawls your original URLs and finds that they're no longer redirected. This is likely to take at least a few days, comparable to the time it took for Google to discover the original redirects to begin with. (it might take longer — Google is pretty quick to crawl new URLs, but seems to treat recrawling of previously seen URLs as a lower-priority task.) One trick that might help speed up the process could be to (re)submit an XML sitemap of your site to Google.

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Thanks, i guess i just have to wait –  DoesNotCompute Jul 4 '12 at 8:18
    
The old switch horses in midstream trick. It's a good plan if you can pull it off. You've performed a massive "Confuse-A-Google" operation. All you can do is wait for the aftermath to clear. Your client's boss's inability to set a clear course, stick to it and decide to do a panic reversion caused all the problems. He'll just have to wait it out while Google sorts it out. Next time, you know to tell them that there will be immediate repurcussions for not following through and letting Google reindex under the new URL setup. –  Fiasco Labs Aug 23 '13 at 15:05

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