Over the weekend, the New York Times was once again ridiculed for how links to its former International Herald Tribune web site were not redirecting readers to new locations for IHT stories. The situation, which was first noticed at the end of March, seemed another example of a newspaper that didn’t get the online world. Well, it’s being fixed now.
The whole thing had me scratching my head in puzzlement. As I explained to IHT journalist Thomas Crampton, who led this weekend’s outrage with his Reporter to NY Times Publisher: You Erased My Career post, the New York Times has one of the most experienced SEOs out there: Marshall Simmonds. Creighton wrote up my comments in a follow up post, where I promised to look into the situation more.
Marshall himself reached out to me on Monday proactively, having seen the commentary. Effectively, the change happened out of his team’s control. He’s now emailed me this official statement from the New York Times on what happened and where things are going:
I wanted to bring you up to speed on the developments around the shuttering of the International Herald Tribune site, IHT.com, and archive transfer to the New York Times, nytimes.com.
The SEO team has been involved in the project since the beginning and recommended the implementation of one-to-one 301 redirects of all IHT content to its new location at the NYT.com. This, of course, conforms to best SEO practices when moving any content and was accepted and built into the timeline. We’ve moved plenty of content at the NYTimes before without incident.
As the project progressed, and we turned our focus to other matters, the move ran into several complications and a fast approaching deadline. Rather than consult with us, the IHT project team made a last minute decision and used an interim 302 solution without understanding the SEO implications.
After launch the impact was obvious, and we moved in to correct and educate. The NYT development team’s top priority right now is one-to-one 301 mapping of all IHT content to its new location. This, unfortunately, was a perfect storm of quick fixes and lack of attention to protocol and will be fully corrected in the coming weeks.
By one-to-one changes, Marshall means that anyone following a link to a story at the former IHT site will be redirected to the same story in a new location. And it’s good news to hear that the current redirects were done using 302 “temporary” codes rather than 301 permanent ones. That should help all the old links still carry credit to the new page locations, when those are in place and 301 redirects established.
Good news, also, that, that the links will be restored for those trying to locate the articles. Let’s hope the New York Times might find a way to speed the process.