Changing the permalink structure on your website is a major undertaking. You should make absolutely sure that you want to make this change in your site as it can potentially impact your SEO (and if not handled properly can result in a lot of errors and broken links ).
Each page and post on your blog has a unique permanent URL, or ‘permalink’, assigned to it. These permalinks are created using a predetermined structure. Changing the link structure for your posts is sometimes necessary, but can lead to issues with search rankings, old links from external sites and broken internal links within your own content.
The best way to avoid these issues with your link is to make a clear plan to update them before doing so. Then, you can make the switch safely and begin to benefit from a more optimized Permalink structure. In addition, you might want to know how to best implement redirection to avoid 404 errors.
In this post, we will discuss what permalinks are and talk about the reasons for changing them on your site . We will also instruct how to safely change the parlink structure , and avoid external and internal errors from broken links with the use of redirects. Let’s dive in!
What are Permalinks?
A Permalink is part of a web address that follows a domain name. For example, have a look at the URL for this blog post: https://www.wpexplorer.com/break-into-blogging-niche/ . The domain name is wpexplorer.com , and Permalink is a break-in-blogging-niche .
Permalinks, when set correctly, serve many important purposes. for example:
- They allow your readers to get a little information about your post or page without seeing the content.
- They are used by search engines only to search for posts or page topics from URLs.
- They provide a permanent place for your visitors and search engines to read your content.
- They are essentially a specific identifier for each piece of content you create, which helps you keep everything organized.
To determine the structure for your Paralinks in WordPress, you need to go to Settings> Permalinks in your dashboard . By default, WordPress Permalink uses the day and name options. If your attention is more than the content of the post on which the date was posted, however, it is often best to use the post name option. This structure makes your post clear for both readers and search engines.
Most people will change the default Permalink structure of their WordPress blog in its creation. There are many options to choose from, but the most common two options are the structure that shows the post name or just the post name after it. This option is usually made with the desired content in mind. For example, websites that focus on news items date as part of the Permalink structure.
You might think that since it is easy to change the permalink structure in website creation, it should also be a simple process for an established website. While the task of making changes is as selecting a new permanent link type and click Save simplest form, the results of the operation requires a little more discussion.
Why Change Permalink Structure?
There are several reasons why you would consider changing your Permalink structure, especially if you are using the default setting. Changing your permalink, whether on a new site or installing one, is relatively straightforward. However, if you do not plan ahead, making changes to the structure at an established site can have negative consequences. Therefore, you should consider carefully whether it is necessary to change your permalink structure.
However, there are several valid reasons for making the switch. Here are just a few:
- If you started with an older version of WordPress, you can still use the previous default structure, which includes the Post ID. This structure does not provide any useful information about your content, and is useless for SEO.
- You are taking your site in a different direction, and the structure needs to be updated to reflect that change. For example, if you are visiting a more news-oriented site, you may want to include the date in your permalinks.
- Many people buy established websites as an investment, so it is possible that you have purchased or inherited your site from someone else. If you have taken ownership of a live site, you may want to update the link structure for rebranding purposes.
If your current structure works for your content and brand, then changing it can be an unnecessary headache. However, if you decide that you need to update your link structure, you will be happy to know that there are ways to implement this switch safely.
How to safely change the Permalink structure
Before you make any changes to the link structure of your site, it is important to simply backup your site. It is also smart to test your changes on a staging site before implementing them on your live site , so you can troubleshoot any problems that may arise.
If you have decided that you want or you have to change your Permalink structure, then you have to take some steps.
Step 1: Decide on a new Permalink structure
The first decision that you need to make is the syntax of your new Permalink structure. When choosing a new structure you need to make some decisions about what the syntax of the link will contain. Do you want to include a date for example? If you do, how much do you want to see it within the link?
This is an important decision and you should not make any changes until you are completely sure of your choice. You can get some ideas for using Permalink from the WordPress guide for your new structure. In general, the post name option is ideal for most users, although news-related sites may want to include dates. Either way, once you decide on your new structure, it is really time to make changes to your permalinks.
Step 2: Change your Permalink structure in WordPress
Once you know which syntax you are going to use, it is time to go to the Permalink menu of your dashboard and make changes. Just navigate to Settings > Permalink in your WordPress back , and make your selection from the Settings screen:
Once you make your selection (or rather if their own were used to create custom structure tags), Save Click to . Your Permalinks are now updated! It will now update all your internal URLs with new syntax.
If they are added as part of WordPress, all internal links must be updated correctly. Any manual link may need to be updated. However, all links to your site from elsewhere will now be completely broken and all content indexed by search engines will be inaccurate.
Step 3: Fix the broken link with 301 redirects
As we mentioned earlier, changing the structure of your Permalinks is the easy part. Now, however, you have to deal with the outcome. Every reference to your former link, whether within your content or on external sites, is now broken. Another side effect is that any content that is indexed by search engines is also inaccurate.
A simple solution to this problem is to set up 301 redirects on your website. 301 Redirect essentially tells any browser that comes to your site using an old Permalink structured URL where there is relevant content. This also lets the search engines know that this is a permanent change. You’ll probably want to customize your 404 page as well as to grab any broken internal or manual links that you can ignore.
In the past you would have to manually add all these redirects to your .htaccess file on your web server . Thankfully, there are plugins with WordPress that can take care of all these things for you.
Using the Simple 301 Redirect Plugin
An alternative is the Simple 301 Redirect plugin to easily create redirects on your WordPress. Once you install and activate the plugin it adds a new menu to the settings area of your dashboard.
There really isn’t a big thing to worry about this plugin. In the 301 Redirect Settings window you are shown two simple fields. One is the label request and the other the destination . This is basically where you enter the old Permalink structure and the new Permalink structure. You need to add information in these fields after your domain name.
In the example in the image above, the request field is the WordPress configuration for month and name and the destination field is the destination configuration for the post name portallink structure . Once you have combined these two fields, save the changes. This will now tell any search engine traffic that comes in the old link where to go.
Using the redirection plugin
Another plugin that we would suggest for adding and managing your redirects is the free redirection plugin.
To use redirection, first install it on your WordPress dashboard. You can then navigate to Tools> Redirect to point pages and posts to their new links on your site . Only source URL Enter Permalink oldest in the field, and the target URL Permalink new field, and then Save Click to :
Using Yoast SEO Permalink Helper Tool (redirect to / redirect / / postname% /)
Another tool you may find useful is the Yoast SEO Permalink Helper Tool. This creates a code based on your current link structure, which you can safely redirect to all posts to the new /% postname% / structure by manually adding them to your site’s .htaccess file. Of course this is a very useful tool, but it only gives you code to redirect the postname structure, while the plugin recommended above can be used to redirect multiple cases to different destinations.
If you are not comfortable modifying the files on your site, however, we recommend you stick with one of the above two free plugins.
Step 4: Convert search engine links to new structure (re-indexing)
We mentioned earlier that after updating your Permalink structure the search engine will contain incorrect information. Unfortunately, it is beyond your control as a site owner. Search engines crawl sites regularly and will update when they find changes, so this problem will be corrected over time.
However, you can help the process by creating an XML sitemap, and then manually re-indexing your site with search engines.
It is best to always address elements like Permalinks before launching a new site. However, you may have to change your link structure even after your site is launched. If you find yourself in this situation, you need a careful plan to avoid disruption to your site