I have a relatively new site that has just started to pick up a bit of traction in the SERP's. My problem is that I have published it and had it indexed with PHP URL extensions, as follows:
And so on. Obviously it is a fairly easy matter of editing the .htacess file to remove these extensions. So I will end up with:
No problems there.
Because the site is still quite small, I can easily change all the links manually to drop the .php extension, and then update the sitemap. So Google, and all users, should have no way of reaching the .php pages, although of course they still exist if you were to manually type them in.
But, because Google has a 'record' of these pages existing (even though there are no direct links to reach them now), do I need to implement 301 redirects from the .php pages to the new non-php pages? I.e. will Google try to crawl those pages that are no longer in the sitemap, but once existed? In other words, since you can still reach www.example.com/page.php , even though will be no link on the site or in the sitemaps that will take you there, would I get penalised for having duplicate content - are 301 redirects basically required when doing this kind of thing, even if there are no links to the content anymore?
Thanks very much.