301 URL mappings in Sitecore done easy

When migrating an existing website to a new Sitecore solution the customer typically want to retain their Google Page rank earned by links pointing to their site.

To transfer the page ranks of old pages to new ones the response needs a 301 permanent redirect status code and then redirect to a new page which content some what corresponds to the content found on the old url.

A simple example

www.somesite.org/about-us.html was an url on the old site. On the new site the about us page is located on www.somesite.org/en/about/who-we-are

Now let say that Google Webmaster tools tells us that 50 links exist on the web to the old url, then the next time these links are crawled it is important that a 404 is not returned. Instead a 301 will redirect to the new page.

URL mappings in Sitecore

Okay, what we want to achieve is that if an item is not found on an url by the ItemResolver in the httpRequestBegin pipeline then we want to check if it is because it is an url from the old website which is being requested.

To do this we first make a pipeline processor for the httpRequestBegin pipeline which we patch right after the ItemResolver or maybe patch before the LayoutResolver just in case some other processor needs to run after the ItemResolver.

In this processor we will first check that the request is not made for sitecore if so then exit fast.

Otherwise we first look up a url mapping folder in Sitecore. If it is a multisite solution then we’ll look up the url mapping folder in the site context using the extension method from my previous post.

When the url mapping folder has been resolved we try to see if an item exist beneath this folder on the same relative path as the one being requested. If not we remove the last part of the relative path and try again until an item is found or breaks out of the pipeline if nothing is matched.

If an item is found somewhere along the hierarchy we check if it can be used as a wildcard redirect. If so we redirect to that one otherwise we just continue so Sitecore handles a 404.

The benefits of this code is that we “fake” the old website structure using the relative paths of items residing beneath the url mapping folder for that specific web site context. An alternative to this would be creating a custom database and interface for the editors where this approach seems much more powerful.

 

In Sitecore we create a template structure as follows:

url-mapping-templates

Where the __PageRedirect base template contain the following two fields:

page-redirect-item

And create the url mappings folder for the website:

url-mappings-folder-in-sitecore

Creating all the url’s can be a very tedious task. If the website which is being migrated is large it can pay off to use a Google GSA or similar to index the old site, export all url’s to csv and then write a small script which runs through the csv and creates the corresponding page redirect items.

The wildcard option makes it easy for editors to redirect whole sections of their old website to a new page. Often it is not possible to make a 1 – 1 mapping between a new site and an old one.

That is it, plain and simple. If you want the source code in a project along with the Sitecore templates write a comment on this post and I’ll prepare it.

Anders Laub

Anders Laub Christoffersen

Anders has been working with Sitecore for over a decade and has in this time been the lead developer and architect on several large scale enterprise solutions all around the world. Anders has been nominated a Sitecore Technical MVP three years in a row for 2014, 2015 and 2016. Anders is now working as a Sr. Solutions Architect at Sitecore in Copenhagen.

5 thoughts on “301 URL mappings in Sitecore done easy

  1. Hi,

    It should be a good one. I have tried default modules for redirect and nothing works for. Since i am using sitecore 7.5 and i am new to sitecore, i am not sure i have used the supported redirect modules to achieve. So i believe your logic will works for me. Can you send me the code pls?

    • Hi,

      All the code you need is here in the post, you can simply copy paste it and then create the items as I have shown.

      Let me know if this is alright otherwise I can also package up a zip with everything.

      –Anders

  2. Question: you state that it’s often not possible to create 1 to 1 mapping for 301 redirects. Is that because you would have to write a rule for every single page? Also, that is a big obstacle from an SEO perspective of using Sitecore.

    • It is technical possible to create a 1 to 1 mapping for all pages. What I mean is that a new site implementation rarely contains 1 to 1 content meaning that not all old pages exists on the new site or vice versa.

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