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I'm planning to change a url for one of my site's page.

Example:

From: https://www.example.com/old-post-slug

To: https://www.example.com/new-post-slug

The fact is that Google has already indexed the old url: https://www.example.com/old-post-slug

And from these DOC's, we see that to avoid lose page ranking we should respond with a 301 - Moved permanently from the old URL pointing to the new URL.

https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/6033049?hl=en

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9hUnuf9sWg

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QUESTION

I get that I should redirect (301) from the old URL to the new one. So when Google re-crawls, it will see that change. But what should be on my Sitemap? The old URL or the new one? Or both?

I tend to think that it would be best to keep only the new url on my Sitemap. But what if Google crawls the new URL before it sees the redirect from the old one? Wouldn't the new page URL start off as a new page (from Google's index perspective) with zero ranking points? How does Googlebot handles that? What is the recommended practice?

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In this case, you should leave only the new URL in your sitemap, since as you mentioned, they are already aware of the old one.

When you are changing many URLs at the same time (when migrating to a new domain, for example), then you probably want to submit two sitemaps: one with the old URLs and one with the new ones, so they can find all of them).

No need to worry here, just implement the 301 redirect, add the new one to your sitemap and you are good to go (you can even submit the new URL manually to accelerate this process).

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  • Thanks! What if Google crawls the new one before it sees the redirect from the old one? If it happens, I think I'm right to assume that (unless it compares the text/html content to other pages) Googlebot will understand the new one as a brand new page, without any ranking history, right? But once it crawls the old URL and sees the redirect, will it be able to "merge" the ranking history from the OLD to the NEW one that he has just indexed thinking it was a brand new page? Don't know if I made myself clear, but do you get my point? – cbdeveloper Feb 6 at 13:12
  • This process doesn't happen this fast (we wish!) and if the old URL gets constant traffic, it means Google is constantly "pinging" it, so they'll be able to find the redirect as soon as you implement it (maybe with a small delay, but nowhere near what they would need to crawl, index and rank the new URL AND consider it duplicate). – Andre Guelmann Feb 6 at 13:19
  • So what you mean is that is way more probable that Google will find the redirect before it even tries to crawl and index the new page? Anyway, I think that if it happens the other way around (index new page before sees the redirect) their algorithm should be smart enough not to "waste" the pageRank from the OLD URL that it has found the redirect, and merge it somehow to the fresh new page with the NEW URL that it has found before, right? – cbdeveloper Feb 6 at 13:30
  • In many cases, yes - when they see two equal (or very similar) pages they will choose one as the "canonical" (i.e. the one they will actually show on the results). But as I said, it won't be an issue to you, this process of crawling, indexing and ranking the new version will take anything between a few weeks to a few months while finding the redirect might take them anything between a few hours to a few days). – Andre Guelmann Feb 6 at 13:45

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