Changing permalink in wordpress

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How to Change Permalinks in WordPress Without Hurting SEO

Par / WordPress SEO jeremy holcombe

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A URL is how the online community sees your site. A good URL can make or break a page sometimes. Normally, when you create a new WordPress website, the default permalinks are not optimal, which is why most developers change them.

Another thing to consider is how to change permalinks in WordPress without hurting your overall SEO structure.

Remember, once you publish a post or page, Google and other search engines cache and index the URL (permalink). Also, if you choose to change the URL on a page or publication in WordPress, you can break that indexing.

Changing your permalink structure after the fact can be devastating to your website’s SEO if not handled correctly. This is because it can lead to 404 errors.

Let’s dive into this topic and discuss it a bit. If you need to update your permalinks, then you’ve come to the right place.

Hide the table of contents

What is a permanent link?

Are permalinks important?

Why change permalinks in WordPress?

How to Properly Edit Permalinks for Published Content in WordPress

Step 1: Back up your website

Step 2: Set up permanent 301 redirects

Step 3: Change your permalinks

Repair

Final Thoughts

What is a permalink?

Un enlace permanent es una URL (direction web) única para cualquier página web en Internet.

Los enlaces permanentes hacen que sea mucho más fácil buscar, encontrar y vincular a páginas web específicas. Esta sola razón hace que la estructura de enlaces permanentes sea importante.

El nombre en realidad proviene de dos palabras juntas, “permanente” y “enlace”. Esencialmente, estás diciendo que cuando se publica una página o publicación, la URL creada se convierte en el “enlace permanente”, que es uno que nunca debe cambiar.

Si realmente desea desglosarlo aún más, un enlace permanente es solo el nombre elegante de una URL que las personas usan para acceder a sitios web y páginas web que desean encontrar y ver. Es el enlace que la gente usa para hacer clic dentro del texto oa través de imágenes y botones.

¿Son importantes los enlaces permanentes?

¡Absolutamente!

Sus enlaces permanentes son de hecho muy importantes por varias razones. En primer lugar, son importantes para el SEO de tu sitio web . En segundo lugar, son importantes para la navegación , la identificación de páginas y el uso compartido. Todas estas cosas son más fáciles para los visitantes de su sitio web si tiene una buena estructura de enlaces permanentes.

Piense en una buena estructura de enlaces permanentes de esta manera:

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.

  1. Backup your website (just in case)
  2. Create Permanent 301 Redirects
  3. 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.

click the link 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.

Initial setting Start setup

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.

check the box Check the box

Select any of the other options you feel are helpful and click on the “Continue Setup” button.

Configuration continue Continue-Configuration

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.

Step 3: Change Your Permalinks

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.

Click settings and then click permalinks Click on settings then on permalinks

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.

Change permanent link on WordPress Edit permalinks in WordPress

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.

Garder changes to change permalinks in WordPress Save Changes to Edit Permalinks in WordPress

The redirection plugin should now create redirects for all of your pages. If you are still experiencing problems, check out the troubleshooting section below.

Congratulations on changing your permalink structure, without damaging your website’s SEO.

Warning: Changing your permalinks settings can seriously impact your search engine visibility. It should almost never be done on a live website. If it is, consider submitting a new sitemap to Google ASAP.

Troubleshooting

If the Redirection plugin has not automatically set up redirections, then you are going to need to make an adjustment.

This means you need to set up a manual redirection. Unfortunately, the exact text of redirection depends on what permalink structure you are coming from and what permalink structure you are going to.

Thus, the exact code will be different for everyone.

Luckily, Redirection has an excellent guide for how to create redirections based on patterns, which is exactly what a permalink structure change is.

For instance, if you were changing from date/post-title permalink structure to a /post-name structure, the Source URL would be “^/(\d*)/(\d*)/(\d*)/([A-Za-z0-9-]*)” and the Target URL would be “/$4“:

Redirection Add Add a redirect

Note: Even if you were making this exact change, the above redirection might not work correctly based on the type of date you had before. After all, there are numerous ways to display the date in URLs.

However, odds are you will need a different redirection.

Thus you are going to need to use the Redirection plugin expressions guide to figure out how to do this for your specific case.

Final Thoughts

As long as you follow the steps above as they are 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 should do often, so make sure you are satisfied 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 entire process manually?

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How to Change a Permalink in WordPress How to Change a Permalink in WordPress

How to Change a Permalink in WordPress

Posted in Marketing, Performance, SEO by Samantha Rodriguez

Last updated on June 7th, 2022

When you want to direct users to your WordPress website, you’ll use what’s known as a permalink. This is a URL comprised of your site’s domain name, as well as a slug (the part of the URL at the end, which generally describes the page’s content). The way permalinks are structured significantly influences their effectiveness.

While permalinks are ‘permanent’ by nature, they can be changed if necessary. When done properly, this type of change can reap major benefits for your WordPress website, including a boost in search engine rankings and an increase in site traffic.

In this post, we’ll introduce you to permalinks and their uses. We’ll then discuss the custom permalink structure of permalinks, and show you how to change them on the WordPress back end. Let’s get started!

Table of Contents

1. What is a Permalink?

2. WordPress Default URL Settings

3. Why Are Permalinks Important?

3.1. Website Organization

3.2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

3.3. Digital Experience

4. Why You Might Want to Change Your Site’s Permalink Structure

4.1. The Default WordPress Permalink Structure

5. How to Create Custom Permalinks in WordPress

5.1. 1. Change Your Site’s Global Permalink Structure

5.2. 2. Change the Slug for an Individual Post or Page

6. Common Issues That Occur When Changing Permalinks

7. Parent/Child Pages

8. WordPress URL Redirection

9. Provide a Quality Digital Experience with WP Engine

What is a Permalink?

A permalink is a ‘permanent hyperlink’ to a specific web page. It’s ‘permanent’ because the link isn’t meant to be changed, as this would break any existing links to the corresponding page.

Most permalink URLs look something like this:

https://www.mywebsite.com/blog/blog-post-1

Aside from directing users to specific web pages, permalinks can also tell users what the page contains (for example, a WordPress blog post). This information is contained in the WordPress slug, which is at the end of the URL.

The WordPress slug often contains the name of the post or page the permalink is pointing to. In some cases, it may also include the relevant category or publication date.

WordPress Default URL Settings

When you create a WordPress site, the default setting for URLs will be “Day and name.” This means that when you make a new post with a permalink, WordPress includes the date of the post and its title (for example, www.examplesite.com/2021/10/9/example-post).

While there is some logic behind this naming convention, it’s not ideal for a few reasons. First, these URLs are not user-friendly—they’re bulky and may not provide much information about the page content. Second, lengthy permalinks can reduce your site’s SEO value. Search engines crawl through your site to find relevant keywords; dates or other irrelevant details negatively impact this process.

For best results, your site should implement the “Pretty Permalink” philosophy. The idea is that users should be able to:

  • Guess the contents of a page from its permalink, and
  • “Hack” a permalink (intuitively change a word in your WordPress permalink to access another part of the site)

Ultimately, we recommend changing your default permalink structure to a more user-friendly one as soon as you create your WordPress site. Don’t worry—we’ll show you how.

Why Are Permalinks Important?

Permalinks play key roles in multiple aspects of your site. In particular, they can significantly affect its User Experience (UX), Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and branding.

Website Organization

Organization is vital to providing high-quality UX for your site’s visitors. Being able to find the information they want quickly is a top priority for users, and following standard website practices can help them do that.

Permalinks provide structure to your site in a few ways. First, they contain information that can help users understand how your content is organized. Let’s return to the example we used before:

https://www.mywebsite.com/blog/blog-post-1

When users see this URL in their browsers, they’ll know they’re currently viewing the post titled “Blog Post 1”. However, they’ll also be able to see that it’s located in the Blog portion of your site, rather than in your knowledge base, support portal, or another section.

Additionally, links are integral to site navigation. You’ll use them in your header and footer menus, but also throughout your content to guide users towards further information on the subjects they’re reading about.

Internal linking not only helps readers find information by improving ease of navigation, but it also indicates the structure of your website to search engine bots. When they crawl your site, they’ll recognize the pieces of content connected by links as related to one another.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

For many internet users, it may be surprising to learn that the URL structure for each page and post can impact the search rankings of your entire website. This is because strategically-created permalinks can help each page rank higher on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

You can also replace a post or page name with a keyword that matches its title, tags, and/or content. For example, a typical post’s URL may be:

www.mywebsite.com/8-ways-to-get-your-day-started-right

While this contains the post’s title, it isn’t targeting your audience as effectively as it could. Instead, you could use a long-tail keyword associated with the content, such as:

www.mywebsite.com/optimize-your-morning-routine

In short, you’ll want to keep your URL structure as simple as possible. This includes avoiding the use of dynamic parameters whenever possible.

Additionally, you’ll notice that hyphens (sometimes referred to as dashes) are used to split words within the WordPress URL. This is done for the benefit of search engines and humans alike, and is an important best practice to follow.

Digital Experience

The primary purpose of permalinks is to make it easy to access specific posts and pages on your site. By nature they improve UX, as users can always type in the permalink for a key resource on your site in order to reach it quickly.

However, permalinks also play another role on your site. Just as your domain name is integral to your digital brand, permalinks influence how visitors perceive your site. A clean structure that is easy to understand appears more professional than a random string of letters and numbers (just to give one example).

Additionally, consistency across your permalinks can reflect positively on your brand. It looks more authoritative, and can help reassure visitors that they’re still on your site. Given how widespread cybersecurity threats have become, this can go a long way towards putting users at ease.

Why You Might Want to Change Your Site’s Permalink Structure

If you’ve just started a new site, changing its permalink structure will likely be a part of your initial setup process. When you’re first going through your settings, you’ll probably want to stop and consider how you want your WordPress site’s URLs to appear.

It’s not very easy to modify your permalink structure once it’s been set. As we mentioned earlier, permalinks are meant to be ‘permanent’, and changing their structure can break backlinks to your site. 

Changing your permalink structure after your site has already been established for a while will result in a drop in traffic, SEO, and UX quality, while you replace all of your internal links and contact backlink providers about adjusting theirs. Redirection can help, as we’ll discuss later in this post, but it’s still a big decision.

However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t situations where older sites might need to change their permalinks. Sometimes this happens as part of the rebranding process. Other times site owners and managers launch their websites without realizing the importance of permalinks. You may want to change your WordPress site’s URL structure now, to improve SEO and UX in the long run.

The Default WordPress Permalink Structure

Each Content Management System (CMS) has its own way of structuring permalinks – including WordPress. For example, when you create a new post in WordPress, one of the standard permalink structures is:

http://www.mywebsite.com/2018/02/sample-post/

This tells users that the post was created in February of 2018, and includes the name of the content (sample-post).

One of the convenient things about implementing permalinks in WordPress is that you have the ability to easily alter their structure. In the WordPress dashboard, navigate to Settings > Permalinks. There, you can choose from a variety of structures.

By default, WordPress uses the Plain permalink structure. Since this option doesn’t contain any information about your content, it isn’t ideal for UX or SEO. If you’re just starting a new site, you can simply select a different setting here and save your changes.

Although WordPress provides a variety of options to choose from, frustrations may arise if you wish to use a different combination. For example, what if you want to include the year the post was published and its name, but not the day or month? Fortunately, this problem can be solved with the use of custom WordPress permalinks.

How to Create Custom Permalinks in WordPress

There are two ways to create custom permalinks in WordPress. The first changes your entire website’s URL structure, while the second enables you to alter individual page or post URL slugs. Which method you use will depend on your situation, so we’ve covered both below.

1. Change Your Site’s Global Permalink Structure

To change the overall structure of permalinks across your entire site, return to Settings > Permalinks. Click on the radio button next to Custom Structure, and select the structure tag you’d like to include by clicking on the buttons below the field in the order in which you want them to appear.

Once you’re done, hit Save Changes. Now all posts on your WordPress site will follow this new structure.

2. Change the Slug for an Individual Post or Page

If you’d like to alter the URL slugs for individual posts and pages, the process is also simple. On the back end of your website, open the editor for the page or post in question. In the Classic Editor, you’ll see its Permalink WordPress below the title field.

Simply click on Edit, and then change the end of the post URL to whatever you’d like.

In the Block Editor, make sure you’re in the Document tab in the right-hand sidebar, and then look for the Permalink section.

There you can type in your desired slug.

You can change your post or page’s permalink before or after publishing the content, but it’s best not to alter it afterward unless absolutely necessary. This can make all uses of the old URL result in errors. You’ll need to set up URL redirection to avoid that issue (we’ll cover how to do this shortly).

Common Issues That Occur When Changing Permalinks

The most common issue that occurs when changing permalinks is a “404 Page Not Found” error. This problem appears when a visitor clicks on an old permalink that no longer exists. When you change your permalink structure from “Day and name” to “Post name” or another option, WordPress doesn’t redirect users automatically. For example, anyone who clicks your “old-style” permalink (like www.examplesite/2021/10/9/example-post) will be met with a 404 error.

Fixing this issue requires using 301 redirects to nudge browsers to the right place. The best way to redirect visitors after a URL structure change is through a redirect plugin like Redirection or Simple 301 Redirects.

However, if you still see a 404 error on multiple pages even after installing a redirect plugin, you may need to reset your permalinks. To do this, go to Settings > Permalinks, and click Save Changes. In many cases, this should solve the issue.

We also recommend creating a 404 page that matches your branding. That way, if any user manages to slip through the cracks, they can recognize you and easily navigate back to your site. Lastly, be sure to create a site backup before making changes to your permalink settings.

Parent/Child Pages

Another element that can impact URL structure is parent/child pages. These are pages that follow a particular hierarchy on your website.

For example, when you visit a ‘regular’ or parent web page, the URL structure is as follows:

www.mywebsite.com/webpage

However, when you visit a child page, there is an additional element to the URL structure:

www.mywebsite.com/parent-page/child-page

This is known as a breadcrumb, and it helps your reader understand exactly where they are on your website and how to return to any previous sections (such as the parent page).

While you can remove the parent-page aspect of the URL by using a WordPress plugin, it’s best to keep it intact. This is for the benefit of your users, as well as search engines.

WordPress URL Redirection

As we mentioned earlier, permalinks aren’t really meant to be changed. However, it isn’t always possible to keep a web page’s URL the same. Fortunately, there’s an easy way to solve this problem.

URL redirection ensures that any attempts to locate an old URL are redirected to the page’s new address. It’s kind of like forwarding your mail after you move.

You can set up page redirections easily, with the help of various WordPress plugins such as Redirection. This tool uses 301 redirects to automatically divert internet users from an old URL to the new one. This helps ensure that no website traffic is lost due to a broken link.

Provide a Quality Digital Experience with WP Engine

Besides its permalink structure, there are many aspects of your website that impact how users perceive it. At WP Engine, we provide our WordPress hosting customers with top-notch performance, and access to professional-level WordPress resources. 

With WP Engine on your side, your website will always be at the top of its game. Check out our plans today!

How do I change the permalink structure?

A permalink – short for ‘permanent link’ – is the full URL for a page on a website. It could include your domain name, plus a slug (the part of the URL that follows the domain name). As we explain in this article on permalinks, it’s very important to make sure your permalinks are SEO-friendly. But how do you change the permalink structure? That’s what we’ll explore in this article!

Please be careful with changing your permalinks if your site has been around for a while. Changing your permalinks if you already have a lot of content can lead to issues such as 404 errors.

Related articles

  • Why you should change your WordPress permalink structure
  • The perfect WordPress SEO permalink structure
  • What is a permalink?
  • What is a slug?

Why you should change the permalink structure

As I explained in this article on how you should change the structure of WordPress permanent liens, we strongly recommend that you use only /%postname%/ for the structure of your site. If you’re using the default permalink configuration ( http://www.example.com/?p=123 ), we’ll display a notice recommending changing the structure.

wpseo_general_dashboard_notifications_permalink-600x95 How to Change the Permalink Structure in WordPress

  1. Launch a session on the WordPress website.

    When you are logged in, you will be in your ‘Dashboard’.

  2. Click on ‘Setup’.

    On the left side, you will see a menu. Dans ce menu, click on ‘Configuration’.

  3. Click on ‘Permanent Enlaces’.

    The ‘Settings’ menu will expand giving you additional options. Cliquez sur ‘Permalinks’.Configuring Permalinks

  4. Select ‘Publication Name’. 

    wordpress-permalink-settings2

  5. Click on ‘Save changes’.
  6. Use this tool to generate the correct code.
  7. Add the code you generated in the previous step to your site’s .htaccess file.

    Not sure how to edit the .htaccess file? We have a ‘How To’ guide available ici.

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