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I have a client who is creating many (over 70 so far) blank webpages and redirecting them all to another, single page. They're doing this as a method to turn tracking URLs with custom campaign parameters into shortened URLs for printed materials.

Unfortunately, I can't provide links due to privacy but it goes like this:

  1. They have a real page with analytics tracking code:

    example.net/REAL-PAGE?utm_source=partner&utm_medium=trifold&utm_campaign=AADR2016
    
  2. Then they create a blank page to print on flyers:

    example.net/BLANK-PAGE 
    

    (in this instance the blank page title is 'AADR2016').

  3. Then they 301 redirect the blank page to the real page with analytics tracking code.

Now, this seems TERRIBLE and like they should just use Bitly. But, I can't think of specific reasons to tell them if/why it's bad. I would imagine it screws up XML sitemaps and SEO, to name a few, but I'm hoping someone can steer me to actual issues (or non-issues) this might cause?

  • Not sure why a blank page necessarily, however, I do not see a problem with this. Not at first blush. I would make sure there are no links to the pages and they are not included in sitemap. Otherwise, seems perfectly legitimate to me. Not how I would do it. For example, why not simply create rewrites in the .htaccess file and not create the pages. Cheers!! – closetnoc Oct 1 '16 at 0:25
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Are they actually uploading empty files? Since they're using 301 redirects, the blank pages might as well not exist. They'll never get called anyway. Doing this is basically implementing bit.ly yourself with the added advantage of being able to choose your own URLs and keeping your own domain. There is nothing terrible about this at all.

301 redirects barely lose any "link juice", so links to these URLs are basically the same as links to the landing page. I'm not sure how Google will react to these pages in a sitemap, but again, because of the 301s I really wouldn't expect any problems. Every link is telling Google it moved permanently to the new page, so only the new page should get indexed.

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If the shortened urls are only being used on printed materials, there is no lost link juice. 301 redirects on these links will ensure that nothing is lost in the case some of these links make it online. Although it may be easier if your client uses a custom url shortener such as YOURLS.

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