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We had URL http://www.example.com/category/subcategory.html which changed to http://www.example.com/category/filter/cat/subcategory.html We did 301 redirection, updated canonical URL to new one also updated sitemap and also resubmitted to Google Webmaster Tool.

But still reputation of old URL not shifted to new one. Old URL used come to first or second position for certain keywords but now I can't find old or new URL in any where in Google search.

Why changing URL format affects SEO reputation and not considering 301 redirection?

PS: We also changed http://www.example.com/category.html to http://www.example.com/category-extra.html and updated same as above. This seems working totally fine. No affect in position at all.

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Google takes several things in account to determine how relevant a page is. The most important factors are:

  • Page content
  • Domain name
  • URL name

Let's assume that your content and your domain name didn't change. Even your HTML markup is still the same.

OLD example.com/category/subcategory.html
NEW example.com/category/filter/cat/subcategory.html

By changing your URLs you moved a potential keyword e.g. subcategory closer to the end of the URL.

Often example (which can be replaced by your online shop e.g. shoeworld) and a subcategory (e.g. flipflops) are concatenated by the user like shoeworld flipflops. The old URL will have a higher rank than the new one because of the better keyword position.

I only described the effect of changing the URL but please keep in mind that no one really knows how Google calculates it's metrics and thus we can only guess why thins happen in a certain manner.

In this case you did a proper 301 redirect as suggested by Google but the effect was not a big as you thought. Occasionally Google does not flush it's caches as soon you change something on your site. The Google Webmaster Tools provide you the option to delete deprecated content from their index. Please have a look at the corresponding help article. It might happen that you did not wait long enough or that the server does not send the right HTTP status code.

  • Yep! It all depends upon the search query of course. Sometimes the old URL will outperform the new one. Also, people seem to forget that the natural order of importance in humans, with some exception, is left to right. That is simply because of how we have learned to read. This is a huge keyword importance weighting factor for search in both the URL and search query. So matches tend to be satisfied in that order but not always since there is a semantic (machine learning) re-ordering that sometimes occur. – closetnoc Jul 22 '14 at 15:40
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    @Stoyno: you don't explain why the 301 redirect is not taken into account by Google (which is the OP second question). – Zistoloen Jul 22 '14 at 15:42
  • Thanks guys. But my problem is - How can I "force" google to update the cache soon (so that it registers the 301 redirect)? To clarify - I just don't want to deprecate the old links (I think that will simply kill the old url from google memeory) but I want to pass the 'juice' of the old url to the new one (so that the new url doesn't start from a very low ranking in google search but start from where the old one was). – Sandesh Jul 23 '14 at 6:24
  • You will have to wait. There is no other way... – Max Jul 23 '14 at 10:14

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