We have updated our URL structure, have you updated your bookmarks?

This is something the JX team has been debating over for a few months: Should we change our URL structure? Will the change damage our search rankings?

301 Redirect
301 Redirect

So, what is the change in our URLs and why the change?

Our old link structure had all links ending with digits e.g http://example.com/article-123/

The digits represented article IDs. We had this permalink structure because Google News requires submitted news articles to have unique page URLs with a minimum of 3 digits in them:

Article URLs. To make sure that we only crawl new articles, please make sure your URLs are unique with at least 3 digits, and are permanent ~ Google News Guidlines

In the past we aspired to get into the search engines for news. We are lazy and dislike manually adding digits into our article links so we automated the process.

Now we have ugly looking URLs that might be bringing down our visitor counts so we have plunged into the abyss, taken the giant squid by her huge sticky tentacles and removed the digits from our URLs. To make the transition easy for our visitors and for search engine crawlers to weather, we have put a bit of text into our htaccess file to automate the redirection from ugly digit ending URLs to beautiful and clean digitless permalinks.

‘Cause we know you want to know: here is the mod_rewrite we used in the top of our htaccess file to send visitors from ugly links to the awesomely pretty new links:

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} ^/(.*)-(?:[0-9]*)?/?$ [NC]
RewriteRule .* %1 [R=301,L]

Site traffic might drop a little initially but we know this change will make our links look better in search result pages, our links will be easier to remember and we know the 301 redirects will help Bing, Yahoo and siblings get over the change quickly.

Please update your backlinks and bookmarks. Let us know if you find any 404 pages while browsing JournalXtra.

Look at those URLs. Arn’t they beautiful!

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