A permalink is a valuable asset to a website. If your permalinks are structured properly, securing a good search engine rank or getting good traffic is not difficult. A quality permalink is a prerequisite for any website to gain traffic and survive in a competitive market structure.
A permalink is an URL that comprises the domain name of a website and a slug. The slug refers to the end part of the URL. This part of the link usually describes the content of the post or the page. As it describes the content, it works as a guide map for the browser. It helps search engines to find out what lies where on your website. It serves as an address to the contents. Therefore, it is not changed generally.
But, there are times when you need to change your permalinks. In this article, we will guide you through the steps of changing permalinks on a WordPress website. Hope after reading the article, you will be able to change your permalink structures with no difficulty.
What is a permalink?
A permalink, as the name suggests is a permanent link. It is a permanent URL to a post or page in a WordPress website. It also applies to your categories and archives. It is an address to your specific contents in the form of a link. These URLs to your specific pages are not meant to be changed. That is the reason they are called permalink. However, they can be edited from time to time.
Though permalinks are generally considered permanent and meant to be kept unchanged, in some special cases, permalink structures are changed. But that is a rare phenomenon. Now, the question is, why do you need to change your permalink structure? Here, we have discussed that in detail.
Why do you need to change a permalink?
There are times when you want to update your website or its contents and an old and existing permalink structure may not work properly. Changing a permalink is beneficial in many different ways. If done properly, it can boost up the search engine ranking of your website within a few days. WordPress offers you many options to change a permalink.
Once you go to the WordPress dashboard, you will find a number of options to update your permalink structure. Generally, people go with the “post name” structure. It is ideal for most of the cases. But depending on your requirements, you can choose any other option too. For instance, if you own a news website, you may like to go for the “Day and name” or “Month and name” option. As for news, dates are also important. So, everything depends on the purpose. You have to be very clear about it before making any change.
Here we have listed some cases when you need to change your permalink structure.
- If you started with an older version of WordPress and you are still using the default structure that includes the Post ID. In this case, it is quite natural that this structure will provide no useful information about your content. Therefore, it is worthless for SEO. You must update your permalink in this case.
- If you are taking your site in a different direction, you need to update the structure of your permalink URL to reflect that change. For example, if you are moving to a more news-oriented site, you may want to include the date in your permalinks. As it is necessary for news.
- Most of the people buy established websites as an investment. In such cases, it is possible that you have purchased or inherited your site from someone else. If you are taking ownership of a live site, it is quite obvious that you will plan to update the link structure for re-branding purposes.
How to change your permalink structure safely?
Before you make any change to the structure of your permalink, it is important to know your content type. Based on that, you need to decide what type of structure you desire to have. However, the first part of the URL will contain the domain name usually. You can only change the slug which contains content descriptions.
To update your permalink structure, go to your dashboard and follow the steps listed below –
Step 1: Change your permalink structure in WordPress.
- Go to your WordPress Dashboard.
- Click on settings and then permalinks
- You will get a variety of options to choose from like the post, day and name, month and name, etc.
- Choose your desired option.
- Once the selection is made, click on the Save button. Your permalink structure will be updated.
Step 2: Create a custom permalink
WordPress allows you to create custom permalinks in two different ways. You can either change your site’s global permalink structure or you can change the slug of an individual post or page.
- Changing the global permalink structure
- Go to your WordPress dashboard
- Go to settings and then permalinks
- Click on the radio button next to custom structure
- Select the tags you wish to include by clicking the buttons below
- Arrange the tags in the order you wish them to appear
- Click on the Save button.
- Changing slug for individual post or page
- Open the “Editor” for the concerned page or post in the back end of your website
- In Classic Editor, you will get permalink just below the title field. Click on the edit and restructure the URL
- In Block Editor go to the “Document Tab” on the sidebar on the right-hand side and look for the permalink section
- Type your URL there
You can change your URL structure even after publishing your posts. But, it is advisable not to change it unless it is very necessary.
Step 3 Fix broken links with 301 redirects
Changing permalink is not a difficult task. You can do it at any time. But once you restructure your URL, some problems follow. You have to be very careful and fix them as soon as possible. Otherwise, you may face some more problems or experience some loss.
After your URL is updated, all the references to your prior link get broken. No matter whether they are internal or external, a broken reference is a problem.
You can fix this problem by setting up 301 redirects on your webpage. A redirect is a process to forward one URL to another. And, a 301 redirect gives the message, permanently moved. It tells the viewers that the link has been moved. It redirects the browser to the new link of your specific contents. Apart from that, it also lets the search engine know that this is a permanent change.
You can do it yourself with the help of some plugins. If you are using Redirection follow the steps below –
- Install Redirection on your Dashboard
- Go to tools and then Redirection
- Point pages or posts to their new links
- Enter old permalink in Source URL
- Enter new permalink in the Target URL
- Click on Save
If you are using Yoast SEO, it is even easier. There is a permalink helper tool. It generates a code based on the current link structure. You may add that code to your site’s access file. This will redirect all the posts to your new /%postname%/ structure.
Step 4 Change Search Engine Links to New Structures (Re Indexing)
Once you restructure your permalink, there is always a risk that search engines will get the wrong information. They will not recognize your site. It is your responsibility to tell the search engine that it is the same URL with a new look.
Search engines keep crawling through the sites. If a change takes place somewhere, they need some time to recognize it. After some time they adjust to it automatically. So even if you don’t do anything proactively, the problem will be solved. But, that is a time-consuming process. And that will result in a loss of traffic. Therefore, you must take some action to fix the problem. And, it is not a very difficult task. You can do that by creating an XML Sitemap. After creating the sitemap, you can manually re-index your site with search engines.
Permalinks are very important for your websites and impact your SEO, user perception, navigation, organization everything. One needs to make the changes very carefully. It is always better to structure the permalinks before you launch your website or publish a post. But if you need to change them afterward, do it with utter caution.
Even without any coding knowledge, you will be able to do it with ease. Y But, change the permalinks only when required. It is not a good practice and not advisable to keep changing permalinks on a regular basis.
If you have any questions regarding how to change a WordPress theme, leave a comment and we’ll do our best to help you out!