Updating the WordPress permalinks setting on your website is an easy task. If your site is already established, then it’s a huge risk to change the WordPress permalink structure setting without understanding it.
Changes in WordPress permalinks setting can have an impact on your SEO ( Search Engine Optimization ) and can cause broken links error on your site if you are not sure about what you are doing.
Every page and post on a WordPress site has a unique and permanent URL, or ‘permalink’, assigned to it. These permalinks are created using the WordPress permalink structure. Changing the default WordPress permalinks setting is good for the SEO of your site.
WordPress permalinks setting can be changed safely on your site even if it is an already established site. You can make the changes safely and have a more optimized WordPress permalink structure. Also, you’ll want to know how to fix HTTP 404 errors, by adding redirects.
Let’s start with, discussing what permalinks are and the reasons for updating them on your WordPress site. We’ll cover instructions, and avoid external and internal links broken errors with the use of redirects.
What is a permalink? Why change the WordPress permalinks setting?
A WordPress permalink is a “permanent hyperlink” to a specific WordPress web page or post. It’s ‘permanent’ because the URL should not change, as this would create HTTP 404 errors.
In WordPress permalinks setting, the default permalinks are like:
This determines that the post was created in December 2018, and includes the link of the content (sample-post). Permalinks are used by search engines to discover the post or page topic from the URL. Which are essentially a unique identifier for each type of content you create in WordPress, helping you keep everything up to the mark.
Most people can change the default WordPress permalinks setting of
their WordPress site at its creation. There are a few choices to settle
on from, however the first two decisions area unit the structure that
shows the date followed by the post name or just the post name on its
own. This alternative is sometimes created with the supposed content in mind. For instance, websites that specialize in news things tend to possess the date as a part of the WordPress permalinks setting.
You would assume that since it’s straightforward to vary the WordPress permalinks setting at the creation of website, it ought to even be an easy method for an established website. Whereas the act of constructing the change is as easy as choosing new WordPress permalink structure and clicking save, the results of that action need a bit additional discussion.
Why would I change my WordPress permalinks setting?
There are many reasons why you would consider updating your WordPress permalinks setting, especially if you have been using the WordPress default permalink structure. Changing your WordPress permalinks setting, whether on a new site or an established one, is very simple. But, making changes to the structure on an established site can have negative impacts, if you don’t plan things. That’s why you should carefully take a decision whether or not it is necessary to change your WordPress permalink structure.
However, there are a few valid reasons for making the change. Check them out:
- If you are using WordPress from a very long time, you may still be using the old default permalink structure, which includes the Post ID. This structure provides no useful information about your blog article or content and is no use for SEO.
- You may be working on your WordPress site in a different way, and need to update the permalink structure to reflect that change. For example, if you are moving to a more event-oriented site, you might want to add the date to your WordPress permalinks setting.
If your current WordPress permalinks setting does work for your site and brand, updating it could not be very useful. But, if you do decide that you need to change your WordPress permalinks setting, you’ll be happy to know there are simple ways to change this structure.
How to safely change the WordPress permalinks setting?
Remember, every time you make any critical changes to your WordPress site, it’s essential to take a backup of your WordPress site. It’s also important to use a test environment or a staging site, before making changes to the live site. It will save you from all the unnecessary headaches.
Let’s start with the steps to change the WordPress permalinks setting.
Step 1: Finalize new WordPress permalinks setting
You need to decide the new structure of your new WordPress permalink structure. When choosing a new syntax, you need to decide about what you will include in the structure of the link. Do you want to include a name of the article, for example? If you do, how do you want it to be visible within the link?
It is a very important decision, and you shouldn’t make any changes at all until you have decided the exact changes and steps. Typically, the article title is ideal for most sites, although event-related sites may want to add dates. Anyway, once you decide on your new WordPress permalinks setting, you can make the changes to your WordPress permalinks structure.
Step 2: Update Your WordPress Permalink Structure
Once you decide which syntax you are going to use, you can go into the WordPress Permalinks menu of your WordPress dashboard and make the change. Simply navigate to Settings -> Permalinks in your WordPress admin dashboard, and change the settings on :
Once you make your changes (or used your custom structure instead), click on the Save button. Your WordPress permalinks setting is now changed! This will now update all of your website’s internal URLs with the new WordPress permalink structure.
All of the internal links of your website should change correctly if they have been added as part of WordPress. Any similar links may need to be changed. But, all links to your site from other sites will now be completely broken giving HTTP 404 errors and all the posts/pages indexed by search engines will be incorrect giving the same HTTP 404 errors.
Step 3: Avoid HTTP 404 errors fixing the broken links with 301 redirects
As we have seen earlier, changing the WordPress permalink structure of your website is the easy part. Now, but, you have to deal with the aftereffects. Every link to your posts/pages, whether within your articles or on other sites, is now broken giving the HTTP 404 error. Also, search engine indexing is broken too.
The solution to this problem is to add HTTP 301 redirects on your website. A 301 redirect tells any user that comes to your site using an old URL where the relevant post/page is. It also tells search engines that this is a permanent change in your website. Also, customize your website’s 404 page template as well to catch any broken internal links of your website that you may have missed.
You can add all of these redirects manually to your .htaccess file on your web server. Also, with a WordPress plugin, you can take care of all of these things automatically.
There are many plugins available on WordPress.org for this purpose. These plugins will help you to update your WordPress permalinks setting efficiently.
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