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I recently submitted a sitemap.xml in Google's Webmaster Tools and some of the pages already got indexed. The problem now is, that I cleaned my URLs with MOD_REWRITE in the .htaccess file afterwards and I would like the new ones to be indexed. The old ones should be removed from the Google Index.

Indexed Page:

www.example.com/article.php?=article=this%is%an%example

New URL:

www.example.com/article-this-is-an-example

Do I even have to remove them manually from the index in any way or do they refresh if Google crawls my new sitemap? I really wan't to prevent duplicate content.

Thanks in advance.

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

First things first.

Of your wrong URLs, make sure you are using a 301 redirect to the right URL and not just rewriting them.

Make sure your links are correct.

Update your sitemap so that it is correct.

Then wait. And wait some more. Light a smoke and grab a beer or two.

Update your site as you would normally while you wait.

Just know that it will take some time for the wrong URLs to drop from the index. There is nothing you can do to hurry up a search engine and Google does get mad if you try. It will work out. I did something similar about 2-3 years ago with about 300,000 pages and it took about 6 months before I felt I could remove the 301s and let the old URLs 404. I probably could have done it sooner, but I wanted to make absolutely sure that Google had all the new URLs or as much as is reasonable. It all worked out fine for me and it will for you too.

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1  
dam you beat me to the answer. lol – Mike Mar 23 at 4:06
    
@Mike Add it anyway!! I like a good ole' fashioned horse race! Of course this old nag is ready for the knackers yard so it might not be much of a challenge for you. ;-) Cheers!! – closetnoc Mar 23 at 4:10
2  
Just in case people have bookmarked (or posted somewhere) the old URLs, it might be worth just leaving the redirects in place forever if it's not costing you anything. There isn't much more annoying than coming across a link on some old forum post and having to track down an archived copy of the destination. – Bob Mar 23 at 6:57
    
@Bob While I do agree with you that any link that has value should remain active, the OPs question sounded like the links were just an accident for a short period of time and therefore unlikely to have any particular value. It is always what is the value of a link?? Some are just not worth keeping alive while others are pure gold. – closetnoc Mar 23 at 15:27

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