Changing page URLs
I'm currently doing some research for a client concerning the organization of a website to make it Google Analytics-friendly. Most of the URLs are not designed properly in terms of grouping or hierarchy. To restructure the website more analytics-friendly, I want to suggest to change (a lot of, 50+) page URLs to better enable things like content grouping.
But I haven't been able to find a solid answer to my questions: what happens when an URL is changed, does Google Analytics consider it to be a new page? Is it possible to tell Google Analytics that a certain URL is now a different one, so it combines the data? What are the best practices on this matter?
Changing page URLs
Hi Paulien. Sounds like a "fun" project you have on your hands! Hopefully this will help:
1- What happens when an URL is changed, does Google Analytics consider it to be a new page? - Yes it does consider it a new page, because it is a different url path now.
2- Is it possible to tell Google Analytics that a certain URL is now a different one, so it combines the data? - I don't believe that is possible. You could combine the data yourself in a custom report but not on the dash board.
3- What are the best practices on this matter? - You should make a list of every url path you are changing and what you changed it to. You then should set up 301 redirects from the previous url path to the new url path. This is important for various reasons. Mainly if another website links to yours, your internal links, or a bookmark is to a url path you are changing setting up the 301 redirects will automatically take them to the correct new url path. (No trouble on the users end.) If you don't set up 301 redirects than if someone clicks an old link or uses a bookmark they will land on a 404 error page (as that old url path no longer exists.) The user would than have to try to find the new page, and most users would just simply not look and think the page is no longer available and leave the site.
Old URL - example.com/Paulien
New URL - example.com/PaulienV
301 redirect - example.com/Paulien to example.com/PaulienV
Hope that answers your questions. Everything you are doing sounds like a great idea but be aware of the extra time involved with setting up the redirects so you bill and estimate more accurately for your client.