- 1 Simple Guide to Change Your Permalinks Without Breaking Your WordPress Site
- 2 How to Change Permalinks in WordPress without Hurting SEO
- 3 Video How to change permalinks in wordpress without breaking links
Last updated: August 3, 2020
Changing the structure of permalinks on your website is an important task. You need to be absolutely sure that you want to make this change to your site because it can have a potential impact on your SEO (and can cause a lot of errors and broken links if not handled correctly).
Each page and post on your blog has a unique permanent URL, or ‘permalink’, assigned to it. These permalinks are created using a default structure. Changing the link structure of your posts is sometimes necessary, but it can cause issues with search rankings, stale links from external sites, and broken internal links within your own content.
The best way to avoid these problems with your links is to have a clear plan for updating them before you do. You can then safely make the switch and start benefiting from a more optimized permalink structure. Additionally, you’ll want to know how to best implement redirects to avoid 404 errors.
In this post, we will discuss what permalinks are and talk about the reasons to change them on your site. We will also provide instructions on how to safely alter the structure of permalinks and avoid external and internal broken link errors with the use of redirects. Let’s dive in!
What are permalinks?
A permalink is the part of a web address that follows the domain name. For example, take a look at the URL for this blog post: https://www.wpexplorer.com/break-into-blogging-niche/. The domain name is wpexplorer.com, and the permalink is break-into-blogging-niche.
Permalinks, when set correctly, serve several important purposes. For example:
- They allow your readers to get a brief understanding of what your post or page is about without looking at the content.
- They are used by search engines to discover the post or page topic solely from the URL.
- They also supply a permanent location for your visitors and search engines to return to in order to read your content.
- They are essentially a unique identifier for each piece of content you create, helping you keep everything organized.
To set the structure for your permalinks in WordPress, you would need to go to Settings > Permalinks in your dashboard. By default, WordPress permalinks use the Day and name option. If your focus is more on the content of the post than the date it was posted, however, it’s often best to use the Post name option. This structure makes the focus of your post clear to both readers and search engines.
Most people will change the default permalink structure of their WordPress blog at its creation. There are several options to choose from, but the most common two choices are the structure that shows the date followed by the post name or simply the post name on its own. This choice is usually made with the intended content in mind. For example, websites that focus on news items tend to have the date as part of the permalink structure.
You would think that since it is easy to change the permalink structure at the creation of a website it should also be a simple process for an established website. While the act of making the change is as simple as selecting a new permalink type and clicking save, the consequences of that action require a little more discussion.
Why Change Permalink Structure?
There are several reasons why you would consider changing your permalink structure, especially if you have been using the default setting. Changing your permalinks, whether on a new site or an established one, is relatively simple. However, making changes to the structure on an established site can have negative consequences, if you don’t plan ahead. Therefore, you should carefully consider whether or not it is necessary to alter 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 may still be using the previous default structure, which includes the Post ID. This structure provides no useful information about your content, and is worthless for SEO.
- You may be taking your site in a different direction, and need to update the structure to reflect that change. For instance, if you are moving to a more news-oriented site, you might want to include the date in your permalinks.
- Many people buy established websites as an investment, so it’s 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 re-branding purposes.
If your current structure works for your content and brand, changing it could be an unnecessary headache. However, if you do decide that you need to update your link structure, you’ll be glad to know there are ways to implement this switch safely.
How To Safely Change The Permalink Structure
Before you make any changes to your site’s link structure, it’s important to make a backup of your site just in case. It’s also smart to test your changes on a staging site before you implement them on your live site, so you can troubleshoot any issues that may arise.
If you’ve decided that you do want or have to change your permalink structure, you’ll need to take a few steps.
The first decision 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 you will include in the syntax of the link. Do you want to include a date, for example? If you do, how much of it do you want visible within the link?
It is an important decision and you shouldn’t make any changes at all until you have made absolutely sure of your choice. You can get some ideas for your new structure from WordPress’s guide to using permalinks. 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’s time to actually make the changes to your permalinks.
Once you know which syntax you are going to use, it is time to go into the Permalinks menu of your dashboard and make the change. Simply navigate to Settings > Permalinks in your WordPress back end, and make your selection from the settings screen:
Once you make your selection (or used tags to create your own custom structure instead), click on Save. Your permalinks are now updated! This will now update all of your internal URLs with the new syntax.
All of the internal links should update correctly if they have been added as part of WordPress. Any manual links may need to be updated. However, all links to your site from elsewhere will now be completely broken and all the content indexed by search engines will be incorrect.
Step 3: Fix Broken Links With 301 Redirects
As we noted earlier, changing the structure of your permalinks is the easy part. Now, however, you have to deal with the fallout. Every reference to your prior links, whether within your content or on external sites, is now broken. Another side effect is that any content that has been indexed by search engines is also incorrect.
There is a simple solution to this problem and that is to setup 301 redirects on your website. A 301 redirect essentially tells any browser that comes to your site using an old permalink structured URL where the relevant content is. It also lets search engines know that this is a permanent change. You’ll probably also want to customize your 404 page as well to catch any broken internal or manual links that you may have overlooked.
In the past you would have been required to add all of these redirects manually to your .htaccess file on your web server. Thankfully, with WordPress there are plugins that can take care of all of these things for you.
Using the Simple 301 Redirects Plugin
To easily create the redirects on your WordPress one option is the Simple 301 Redirects plugin. Once you have installed and activated the plugin it adds a new menu to the Settings area of your dashboard.
There really isn’t a great deal to worry about with this plugin. In the 301 Redirects settings window you are shown two simple fields. One is labeled Request and the other Destination. This is basically where you enter the old permalink structure and the new permalink structure. You only need to add the information after your domain name to these fields.
In the example in the image above, the Request field is the WordPress configuration for the Month and Name permalinks while the Destination field is the WordPress configuration for the Post name permalink structure. Once you have added these two fields, save the changes. This will now tell any search engine traffic that comes into the old links where to go.
Using the Redirection Plugin
Another plugin we’d recommend for adding and managing your redirects is the free Redirection plugin.
To use Redirection, first install it on your WordPress dashboard. Then you can navigate to Tools > Redirections to point the pages and posts on your site to their new links. Simply enter the old permalink into the Source URL field, and the new permalink into the Target URL field, and then click Save:
Using the Yoast SEO Permalink Helper Tool (to redirect to /&postname%/)
Another tool that you may find useful is the Yoast SEO Permalink Helper Tool. This generates a code based on your current link structure, which you can manually add to your site’s .htaccess file to redirect all the posts safely to the new /%postname%/ structure. Of course this is a very handy tool but it only gives you the code to redirect the the postname structure while the plugin recommended above can be used to redirect multiple cases to various destinations.
If you are not comfortable with modifying your site’s files, however, we recommend you stick with one of the two free plugins mentioned above.
Step 4: Changing Search Engine Links to the New Structure (Re-indexing)
We mentioned earlier that search engines will have incorrect information after you update your permalinks structure. Unfortunately, this is beyond your control as a site owner. Search engines regularly crawl sites and will update when they find changes, so this problem will correct itself over time.
You can, however help the process along by creating an XML Sitemap, and then manually re-indexing your site with search engines.
It is always best to address elements like permalinks before you launch a new site. However, you might still need to change your link structure after your site has launched. If you find yourself in this situation, you need a careful plan to avoid disruption to your site (both internally and externally).
Changing the permalink structure of your website is something that should be considered and planned before you do anything.
While making the change and limiting the problems has never been easier, you may still take an SEO hit to your site. That may be fine in the short term if you are changing to a more SEO friendly permalink structure, but it isn’t something you want to have to continually deal with. Pick your new permalink structure and stick with it.
Do you have any questions about updating your WordPress permalink structure? Have you undertaken the permalink change in the past? Did you experience any problems with search engine traffic and broken links? How did you resolve them? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
Artículo escrito por Tom Ewer autor de WPExplorer.com
By jeremy holcombe / WordPress SEO
A URL is how the online community views your site. A good URL can make or break a page sometimes. Normally when you create a new website in WordPress, the default permalinks are not optimal, which is why most developers change them.
Another thing that needs to be considered is how to change permalinks in WordPress without hurting your overall SEO structure.
Remember, once you publish a post or page, the URL (permalink) is then cached and indexed by Google and other search engines. Thus, if you choose to change the URL on a page or post in WordPress, it can disrupt that indexing.
Changing permalink structure after the fact can be devastating to your website SEO if this is not handled correctly. This is because it can lead to 404 errors.
Let’s dive into this issue and discuss it some. If you need to update your permalinks, then you have come to the right place.
Tabla de contenido ocultar
¿Qué es un enlace permanente?
¿Son importantes los enlaces permanentes?
Why Change Permalinks in WordPress?
How to Properly Change Permalinks for Published Content in WordPress
Step 1: Backup Your Website
Step 2: Setup Permanent 301 Redirects
Step 3: Change Your Permalinks
What is a Permalink?
A permalink is a unique URL (web address) for any webpage on the internet.
Permalinks make it much easier to search, find, and link to specific web pages. This reason alone makes the permalink structure important.
The name actually comes from two words smashed together, “permanent” and “link.” Essentially, you are saying that when a page or post is published, the URL created becomes the “permanent link,” which is one that should never change.
If you really want to break it down even further, a permalink is just the fancy name for a URL that people use to access websites and web pages that they want to find and view. It’s the link people use to click on within text or through images and buttons.
Are Permalinks Important?
Your permalinks are indeed very important for a number of reasons. First and foremost, they are important for the SEO of your website. Second, they are important for navigation, page identification, and sharing. All of these things are made easier for visitors on your website if you have a good permalink structure in place.
Think of a good permalink structure in this way:
It is like dialing a specific phone extension to get to a specific person when you’re calling a big company. Solid permalinks make this possible on a website.
A bad permalink structure or different permalinks everywhere coming from your site would be like being routed through the main phone number every time.
There are certain instances when you would use a permalink. Of course, when you are building a page or post, you want to make sure the permalink is custom and that it matches what you want.
However, you would also use permalinks in situations like:
- When linking to a specific post or page.
- Creating deep links for affiliate marketing purposes.
- Sharing on social media.
Also, consider how some permalinks have the date a blog post was published. As a result, some people may not visit your content if they deem it to be “too old.” Many online users like content fresh and current.
Why Change Permalinks in WordPress?
If you are about to tackle the process of changing permalinks in WordPress, then there is probably a good reason. More often than not, website owners change their permalinks because they do not like the original structure that was put into place.
Maybe you want to take out the date in your current URL or add tags like categories or other structural settings. You may be changing permalinks because your site is moving, or getting a new domain name. Even changing your protocol from HTTP to HTTPS required you to deal with 301 redirects and permalinks.
Other reasons for doing this include things like:
- Your old post and page structures are not user-friendly.
- Maybe your existing permalink structure has no SEO advantages.
- You are trying to rebrand your website.
Whatever the reason may be, let’s take a look at how to successfully perform a WordPress change of URL and keep your SEO intact.
How to Properly Change Permalinks for Published Content in WordPress
Now that you have a good idea of what permalinks are and how important they can be to your website and SEO, let’s take a look at how to edit a permalink in WordPress without destroying your current links and SEO structure.
So, there are actually a couple of ways to do this. You will need quite a bit of database and cPanel knowledge to perform this all manually. Luckily, that’s not required. Everything can be completed by using the right combination of plugins.
There are three main steps you need to perform in order to change permalinks in WordPress successfully without hurting your SEO.
- Backup your website (just in case)
- Create Permanent 301 Redirects
- Change Your Permalink Structure
Let’s go over these together. I will talk about each step a little and link you to the relevant tutorials that will take you through each process. There are also a couple of other plugin suggestions for you if you are interested.
Step 1: Backup Your Website
Backing up your website is something you should do whenever you are making any sort of big changes. Even though your web host probably makes backups, it is still a good idea to backup your WordPress website yourself. You can do this manually or use a plugin, the choice is yours.
You won’t actually be using the backup for anything in the process, but you will have the files and database in place and ready if something goes terribly wrong while changing your permalinks.
If so, you simply add backup website files and the database into place and you can start from the beginning.
Step 2: Setup Permanent 301 Redirects
Our second step is to set up the Redirection plugin. This allows you to automatically set up 301 redirects to correct 404 error pages when changing the permalink structure.
Ultimately, this step will allow you to change the permalinks structure without breaking links. Thus, it’s the most important step.
Install the Redirection plugin and activate it for use. Upon activation, you should see a message at the top asking you to complete the Redirection setup. Click on the link.
This will give you a quick overview of how the plugin works and what it can do. Click on the “Start Setup” button when you have read the page.
The basic setup section is the most important because of the first option. It allows the plugin to monitor permalink changes to your website and it will automatically set up the redirects. Thus your website’s links will work without having to make any manual changes.
Check the first checkbox.
Select any of the other options you feel are helpful and click on the “Continue Setup” button.
The plugin will now test the connection to the REST API. This is how the plugin communicates with WordPress. You can see the results of the test next to the REST API option.
As long as it says working, you are good to go.
Note: You may also see “Working but some issues” and that is okay. You can check the summary to try and resolve the problems. Check the plugin’s FAQ to find a solution to the issue.
Click on the “Finish Setup” button.
The plugin should automatically set up 301 redirects when we change the permalinks in the next step.
With the Redirection plugin in place, you are ready to change your permalink structure.
WordPress offers a number of different custom permalink options within the WordPress admin dashboard. Thus, you won’t need a plugin for this step. However, it is worth mentioning that there are a variety of plugins available that can do the job as well.
To access the built-in method, click on Settings and select the Permalinks option located on the left-hand admin panel.
This will take you to the custom permalink setup that WordPress offers. From here, you can adjust and set your website permalinks to exactly what you want them to show.
Unfortunately, WordPress does not pick an SEO-friendly permalink structure by default. And if you didn’t catch it early enough, it could be a major factor in why your website is not ranking well.
There are multiple structures to choose from and you even have the option to create your own custom permalink structure. But, if you’re looking for the best, which I know you are, Yoast SEO recommends using a custom structure of “/%category%/%postname%/” but the choice is up to you.
Once you have changed the permalink structure, click on the “Save Changes” button. This will force WordPress to update the permalinks structure of your website.
El complemento de redirección ahora debería crear redirecciones para todas sus páginas. Si aún tiene problemas, consulte la sección de solución de problemas a continuación.
Felicitaciones por cambiar su estructura de enlaces permanentes, sin dañar el SEO de su sitio web.
Advertencia: cambiar la configuración de los enlaces permanentes puede afectar seriamente la visibilidad de su motor de búsqueda. Casi nunca debe hacerse en un sitio web en vivo. Si es así, considere enviar un nuevo mapa del sitio a Google lo antes posible.
Solución de problemas
Si el complemento de redirección no ha configurado automáticamente las redirecciones, necesitará hacer un ajuste.
Esto significa que debe configurar una redirección manual. Desafortunadamente, el texto exacto de la redirección depende de la estructura de enlaces permanentes de la que proviene y a qué estructura de enlaces permanentes se dirige.
Por lo tanto, el código exacto será diferente para todos.
Afortunadamente, Redirección tiene una excelente guía sobre cómo crear redirecciones basadas en patrones, que es exactamente lo que es un cambio de estructura de enlace permanente.
Por ejemplo, si estuviera cambiando de una estructura de enlace permanente de fecha/título posterior a una estructura de /nombre posterior, la URL de origen sería ” ^/(\d*)/(\d*)/(\d*)/( [A-Za-z0-9-]*) ” y la URL de destino sería “ /$4 “:
Note: Even if you were making this exact change, the above redirect might not work correctly depending on what type of date you had before. After all, there are numerous ways to display the date in URLs.
However, you probably need a different redirect.
However, it is necessary to use the guide of expressions of the complement of redirection to discover cómo hacer esto para su caso específico.
As long as you follow the above steps as given, you should be able to successfully change permalinks in WordPress and keep all of your SEO structure and rankings intact.
This isn’t something you need to do often, so make sure you’re happy with your new permalink structure.
Did this process work for you? What other tools or plugins did you use? Do you prefer to complete the whole process manually?