I’m sure the internet has changed quite a bit since you first unveiled your web site to the world. The technologies used to build web sites and internet presentations have also changed too. You may be thinking that the time is right to redesign your web site. A new look/ feel and fresh content will go far to better reflect your business services today. Make sure you have someone who understands search engine optimization involved with your project. This is very important for a web site redesign.

In the past it was possible to simply write code to display your pages properly in the few browsers available. Today if your web site enjoys any traffic that comes from the search engines, you want to keep it. This means that your REDESIGNED web site cannot have broken links that come from the search engines or dump all of your old site links to the home page. Doing so will impact your search engine ranking. This will cause your rank to drop. For some business this could have a serious financial impact.

You need to redirect all of your old pages to the new pages that have similar content. Often a web site is transitioned from a static HTML web site to a dynamically scripted web site like those coded with ASP, PHP, .net, Cold Fusion, Java to name a few server side scripting languages. Your old web site may have had links that looked like this:


or something similar. Your new site may simply have restructured how the pages are stored by changing the folder names or your web site is now dynamic. Either way you want your old web page links to be redirected to the new web page links. If you are running apache server you can use an htaccess file in the root of your public folder to preform the redirect of OLD to NEW. This is just one way to make use of htaccess files. Feel free to use your favorite search engine to find other htaccess tutorials for password protected folders or event URL rewriting.

How to use htaccess files with apache server for URL redirect

Create a plain text file named: .htaccess

in the root of your public folder. In this file you will use the following structure to create a redirect that tells the search engines that a permanent change to the old link has been made, meaning the old link is being redirected permanently. The format is action, error code, OLD URL, NEW URL. Each redirect is on its own line like this:

Redirect 301 /your_file_name.html http://www.example.com/index.php?a=12&b=39
Redirect 301 /file_name.htm http://www.example.com/index.php?a=657&b=354&c=234

If your OLD URL happened to have a space, %20, in the file name or folder name put the entire URL in double quotes like this:

Redirect 301 “/folder name/file name.htm” http://www.example.com/content/view/215/27/

This will allow the directive to be performed properly. With out double quote around the URL with a space it can cause an internal error 500 on the server. Often this error is associated with htaccess files the have invalid syntax.


  1. 301 is the error code for a permanent redirect
  2. The OLD URL starts with a forward slash
  3. The NEW URL is a fully qualified URL
  4. The new URL can also be on a different domain too.

That is all there is to it. Save your htaccess file and test it by access an old URL. It should redirect your browser without incident. Using the 301 error tells the search engines to update their index with the new URL.