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Using 301 Redirects to point to new files

I recently rebuilt a site’s directory structure to hopefully help with German and French language indexing. The site was not getting good results for German and French users. Several things were done in this project;

  1. Rebuild Directories & files
  2. Add Meta data for languages
  3. redirect existing/indexed pages to new address
  4. Check server headers for proper response

1. Rebuild Directories

The pages were in a folder /German or /French. I wasn’t Google was picking these up as separate language versions of the main site, so I wanted to see if a rename to /de and /fr would help.

2. Meta data for languages

When I took over the site a month or so ago, there was no tagging to tell the spiders or bots that this was a German or French language site.

I added lang=”de” to the German html tag like so:

<html xmlns="" lang="de" dir="ltr">

I also added HREFLANG tags to point to alternate versions of the site.

<LINK REL=Alternate HREF="/fr/index.htm" HREFLANG="fr" TITLE="Française" />
<LINK REL=Alternate HREF="/de/index.htm" HREFLANG="de" TITLE="Deutsch" />

3.  Redirect existing/indexed pages to new address

You can do a proper 301 redirect using a .htaccess file.

I added the following:

Redirect 301 /German/index.htm
Redirect 301 /German/thispage.htm>de/thispage.htm
Redirect 301 /German/thatpage.htm

4. Check your Header response

Use the Check Server Headers Tool:


#1 Server Response:
HTTP Status Code: HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently
Date: Fri, 17 Sep 2010 19:08:32 GMT
Server: Apache/1.3.41
Connection: close
Transfer-Encoding: chunked
Content-Type: text/html; charset=iso-8859-1
Redirect Target:
#2 Server Response:
HTTP Status Code: HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Date: Fri, 17 Sep 2010 19:08:32 GMT
Server: Apache/1.3.41
Last-Modified: Fri, 17 Sep 2010 18:54:38 GMT
ETag: "9809a32d-1cff-4c93b96e"
Accept-Ranges: bytes
Content-Length: 7423
Connection: close
Content-Type: text/html

Hopefully I’ll come back in a few weeks with some good news on better traffic for these pages.

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Hi. I'm Vince, a web guy based in Tampa, Florida. I've been building web sites since 1996, and I have great passion for design and usability. I have a wonderful family and 2 great dogs. Feel free to say "Hi", and checkout my latest e-books.

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