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I am developing a new website and would like to preserve the old website at a subdomain. (The old website has a lot of content which is useful enough not to just remove completely, but not valuable enough to 'convert' over to the new site.) Ideally the new site would be site.com and the old site would be archive.site.com (or site.com/archive - I can't tell if there's any reason to differentiate?)

Should I do something like a 301 redirect for either:

a) the main pages which existed on the old site and will exist on the new one (say site.com/events) b) to tell search engines that the page/result they had cached is no longer at site.com but archive.site.com

Initially I thought a 301 redirect from site.com to archive.site.com would work, but this would fail on pages that also exist on site.com.

Am I missing something? Or should I just use robots.txt to block search engines from caching the content at archive.site.com and just lose the SEO for all the old, archived content?

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You should do a 301 redirect for pages that have moved and not been replaced. You do not want to do a 301 redirect for pages which have been replaced (it might be appropriate to put a link on the new page to the old one depending on how valuable the old content is and how different it is from the new page)

You should do the 301 on either a "per page" basis - not a per site basis. Puttong a 301 on a page which is to be replaced cpuld cause you grief as you will have told Google a valis page no longer exists at its original location.

I do not underatand the logic you have arround blocking search engines from spidering the old site at its new location but still having a 301 redirect to it. If you dont want the data found, use a 404 and dont link to the archive version. If you do want it found, use a 301 redirect.

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  • Thanks - that's so useful as I had somehow come to the opposite conclusion re which ones to redirect. But your explanation makes sense and takes me back to my first assumption. So my only other question at this stage would be: I presume I can just make my list of redirects as long as it needs to be? Or is there a performance/other issue in listing a load of individual redirects.
    – Paul
    Mar 8 at 7:48
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    @Paul in the overall scheme of things the load of a 301 redirect is so trivial I would not consider it in my decisions. There are, of-course, different ways of affecting the 301 and some would be less efficient then others.
    – davidgo
    Mar 8 at 7:51
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    There is no issue I am aware of with a large number of 301's.
    – davidgo
    Mar 8 at 7:52
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    There can be performance issues with a large list of redirects. Whether or not it will be a problem depends on how long the list is and where it is implemented. Here are some possible ways to reduce the overhead of a large number of redirects: When possible use rules with patterns that cover a large number of URLs rather than listing URLs individually. Use RewriteMap as a tool to move many redirects out of .htacccess. Implement the redirects in your 404 handler so that they don't slow down the pages on your new site. Mar 8 at 12:50
  • @StephenOstermiller - Thanks a lot for that suggestion. I think that will cover a lot of nested pages under a subfolder, which should help.
    – Paul
    Mar 9 at 9:10

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