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University Web Developers

So I realized the other day I might not be implementing redirects properly, and have been trying to Google something that matches my situation, but to no avail.

We set up a lot of redirects in order to create print-friendly shortened URLs that are easier to type. For example, www.callutheran.edu/majors redirects to http://www.callutheran.edu/admission/undergraduate/academics/academ...

In a root .htaccess file, I do this:

Redirect /majors http://www.callutheran.edu/admission/undergraduate/academics/academ...

But every tutorial I've seen on Apache redirects tells you to use a code, such as 301 in the directive. However, in my case these are not permanent redirects - there is no old page. Its just a shorter version of the destination URL (I've been using the term 'aliases' - probably incorrectly). I'm also wondering if our current method would have any SEO side effects.

What do you think?

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Hi Erik,

You will need to use the RewriteRule's passthrough [PT] flag to get the desired effect. It is a URL to file translator and does not indicate redirection to the browser.

The .htaccess file would look something like this. Note that the L indicates this is the last RewriteRule that should take place.

Visit http://www.uni-ulm.de/manual/en/mod/mod_rewrite.html for more options.

RewriteRule www.callutheran.edu/majors http://www.callutheran.edu/admis... [PT,L]
Actually, would you not want the 'R' (redirect) flag to pass the status code?

RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://mynewdomain.com/$1 [R=301,L]

Oh.. and Erik, we use the term 'alias' on our campus. It does make it easy for marketing campaigns and also stats on how many people may be hitting the alias/redirect. At my college, we are using IIS with virtual directory 'alias' redirects.. and control the list there, but I have used the LAMP side using .htaccess for it also.
Hey Erik - The info provided so far has been good. I would add the following:
If you are actually planning to redirect the user to the original URL, it is a permanent redirect. 301 does not necessarily mean that the page moved (although that's been the meaning most commonly associated with it), it simply means that one URL should semi-permanently redirect users to another URL.

If you simply want to duplicate the content from the original URL on a page that's located at the short URL (or alias), then you need to look into the canonical link meta tag. This tag basically tells the search engines "I know the content on this page is a duplicate of the content found on another page. You can ignore this page in your index, as long as you index the original page."

Those are the two ways I would go about it (and have gone about it), at least. Good luck.
Thanks for the info everyone, much appreciated. Curtiss, I don't think we'll have any duplicate content issues because the browser won't stay at the short URL - the user will be redirected to the full URL before any content is sent. I would think search crawlers wouldn't be able to index the short URL for the same reason.

Steven, the PT flag makes sense to me, but it doesn't seem to be working on my system. I put the following in my htaccess file

RewriteRule www.callutheran.edu/americana http://www.callutheran.edu/neighbors/events/TheAmericanaExperience.php [PT,L]

and it causes a 404. I'm going to ask my IT team for some details on our Apache setup.

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