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Simple Guide to Changing Your Permalinks Without Breaking Your WordPress Site

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A Simple Guide to Changing Your Permalinks Without Breaking Your WordPress Website

Changing the permalink structure on your website is a major undertaking. You should be absolutely sure you want to make this change to your site because it can potentially have an 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 predetermined structure. Changing the link structure for your posts is sometimes necessary, but can cause issues with search rankings, outdated links from external sites, and broken internal links within your own content.

The best way to avoid these issues with your links is to have a clear plan for updating them before you do so. Then, you can make the switch safely and start benefiting from a more optimized permalink structure. In addition, you’ll want to know how to best implement redirects, in order to avoid 404 errors.

In this post, we’ll discuss what permalinks are and talk about the reasons for changing them on your site. We’ll also provide instructions on how to safely alter permalink structure, and avoid external and internal errors from broken links with the use of redirects. Let’s dive in!

What Are Permalinks? (And Why You Might Need to Change Yours)

WordPress Permalinks Settings

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 Would I Change My 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

permalink-structure

Before you make any changes to your site’s link structure, it’s important 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.

Step 2: Change Your Permalink Structure in WordPress

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:

WordPress Permalinks Settings

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.

Simple 301 Redirect Settings

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.

Redirection WordPress 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:

Redirection Plugin Settings

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.

Conclusion

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.

change-permalinks-wordpress
Article by Tom Ewer WPExplorer.com author
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108 Comments

  1. Brin Wilson

    Quick question: once you’ve done all of the above and used the plugin to make the 301 redirects, can you then delete the plugin or will you have to keep the plugin there for the life of the website?

    • AJ Clarke

      Pretty sure you need to keep the plugin because it’s all setup in the database. If you want to avoid that, then you’ll want to do your 301 redirects directly in your .htaccess file. For example a while back I had .html at the end of all my pages/posts and I removed that so I added some code to my .htaccess file to redirect all .html to non .html versions of the page/post.

      I would actually recommend adding it in the .htaccess file, but we like to mention plugins because it’s easier for the casual user 😉

      • tvgratisaovivo

        I did as mentioned, but has 404 in all my pages take a look:
        clubedaimportacao.com

        Alguém pode me ajudar

        Abraços

        • computathugz

          What you need to do is access the server and make sure there is an .htacess file present, if not create on simply by opening notepad (i prefer to use notepad++ for editing)and copy and past this to it.

          # BEGIN WordPress
          RewriteEngine On
          RewriteBase /
          RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
          RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
          RewriteRule . /index.php [L]
          # END WordPress

          Then save the file and upload it to the server. Then set the permissions on the file to 777, go to wp set the permalink structure you require and save. Then go back to you ftp and set the permissions on the htaccess file back to 644.

          All good to go.

          • Bente Bente Wayper

            What do you meen by the last bit? “Then go back to you ftp and set the permissions on the htaccess file back to 644. All good to go.”

            • copmutathugz

              Once you have uploaded the file, go back to the permalink structure settings on wp, set the permalink to /%postname%/ and save. Refresh the ftp server right click the file and set the permissions back to 644 and save.

          • Shahid

            This worked like a charm for me.. Bundle of thanks

      • gomezj904

        Please look at my permalink structure /%year%/%monthnum%/%postname%.html. Please give me the .htacess rule to change this permalink to /%postname%. Thnaks

        • Kyla Avatar Kyla

          Just log into WordPress and go to Settings > Permalinks and set it from there. If it doesn’t work, contact your webhost so they can make the .htaccess file writable so that WordPress can update it for you.

  2. Flick

    Thanks for the plugin recommendation 🙂 I have been using Redirection for ages but sometimes worry about the issues reported by others (thankfully things have been fine for me so far). Would be great to have a 404 article on WPExplorer sometime.

  3. Maria

    This is a really cool article! One question: I’m using seo yoast, I published a page and I want to change the permalink (just to add a more friendly keyword). How can I do it without to get a 404 error? And what if I want to change the permalink of an article I published in the past? Thank you so much!

    • Kyla Avatar Kyla

      Hi Maria! I don’t think you can. If you change the post slug you’re going to get a 404 error. The only way I can think of to keep your link juice is to create a new post with the slug you want and redirect the old post to the new one.

    • H. T. Major, Web Presence Strategist

      Hey Maria. Actually, two things to note: 1) When you set up a 301 redirect, there WILL be no 404 error on the old page. Instead, the browser will just redirect the user to the new page. That’s why you’re setting up a 301 redirect. :} And 2) If you’d not like to manually set up 301s for every page you change, as this article describes how to do, you can try the “Permalink Finder” plugin for WordPress. I happened upon this after some intensive searching, because I didn’t want to manually do this redirect process for the amount of blog posts I had.

      Permalink Finder searches the words in your permalinks, and redirects people to the NEW, moved page based on the keywords it finds. So if you’re only changing one keyword, this plugin should definitely find and redirect the user automatically. (You can set how many words the plugin matches when it makes the redirect decision. The less keywords you choose to match with, though, the less accurate the article may be that it redirects to.)

      Remember, though, that any automatic 301 redirection tool is going to be a bit risky, as it won’t catch EVERY single redirect that it should, just because it’s a bot, and not a smart human, like us. ;}

      Hope that helps.

      • Diana Elizabeth

        Thank you for this!!!! I didn’t want to change 1000 blog posts!

  4. Eddie

    Sorry if this is a dumb question but, what if our blog is still fairly new and only has some sample posts put up? Couldn’t we just delete those posts and start casually posting WITH the new permalink structure? I take it this only applies for someone who already has an established blog with many posts put up, correct?

    • AJ Clarke

      Hi Eddie, you have nothing to worry about then. You shouldn’t even delete your posts, just alter the permalink structure and you’ll be fine 😉

      • elaine dodge

        Hi AJ, I’m really new to WordPress (like today) and am a bit lost. I’ve realized that the permalink I created when I created my site is wrong and I need to change it. But when I go to ‘Settings’ there is no Permalink in the drop down menu. What do I do?

        • AJ Clarke

          Are you logged in as an administrator? Are you using self-hosted WordPress or WordPress.com (very different)?

  5. Harsh Agrawal

    Din worked for me! 😐
    I adde the old permalink and new permalink but no luck!

    • AJ Clarke

      You may have to update your .htaccess file manually depending on the server after altering the permalinks.

  6. Ben Horle

    Hi, Thanks for writing such a good and easy to read post. I’m developing a new site at mysite.com/dev in a separate WP installation, how do I deal with the premalinks problem when I replace the original at mysite.com please?.
    would really appreciate your help on this

    • AJ Clarke

      You simply have to do a search and replace for the URL after exporting it. I use and recommend Search Replace DB because it’s so simple.

  7. Kevin

    Tom, great article.. I tried the 301 plugin but couldn’t get it to work… Maybe I was not entering the correct data.. but i did a search and found another plugin that worked perfectly and with no configuration from my part… it worked out of the box. It’s name is Change Permalink Helper. It’s new so it was not available when you wrote this article.. The url is https://wordpress.org/plugins/change-permalink-helper/

    I’m not affiliated with this in any way.. i just want to help 😉

    • Shan Yi

      Thank you for your recommendation! It works on my site. 🙂

      • Manoj

        Yes, that plugin worked for me too. Thanks a lot for the suggestion, Kevin.

  8. Satish Kumar Ithamsetty

    Dear Clarke,

    This is working well.But it is time consuming process Sometimes showing “Sorry Not Found” message. Recently i tested “Advanced Permalink” plugin for my blog. Excellent working very good without any problem. setup is just 1 min. No need to touch our “.htaccess” file. Try this plugin.

    Regards
    Satish Kumar Ithamsetty

  9. Neil Cheesman

    Is it possible to have a global redirect for the following? (as it doesn’t appear to work or is it just my cache)

    /index.php/%post_id%/%postname%/
    to
    /index.php/%category%/%post_id%/%postname%/

    • AJ Clarke

      Hum…I’m not sure, sorry 🙁 Maybe someone else knows?

  10. sumitshevtekar

    Server Error
    404 – File or directory not found.
    The resource you are looking for might have been removed, had its name changed, or is temporarily unavailable.

    i have created website @ pune.boookit.in – now 150 + pages created , current Permalink is default – now i am going to change Permalink , when i am going to select Post name, its going to change page links , but showing error page not found.

    i want solution – all pages want to switch from default to Post name – Permalink
    help to get out of this. On URGENT Basis

    • AJ Clarke

      Have a look at the Permalink Helper tool by Yoast.

      • jeremyclarke

        FWIW the plugin recommended in this post didn’t work at all for me. There was no mention in it’s built in docs that we could use the permalink placeholders like “/%year%/%monthnum%/%day%/%post_id%/” so I’m not sure if anyone actually got it working the way this post implies (most of the comments are about it not working).

        That said the Yoast link was extremely useful and solved my problems. I gave it my “other” format of url (pasted in the first paragraph) and it gave me a single line to put in my .htaccess file. Once that line was in my .htaccess all my old links redirect to the new ones. Very simple, not plugin to install and the correct approach IMHO.

        https://yoast.com/research/permalink-helper.php

        FWIW it annoys me deeply that this site has no dates on anything, including the post (I have no idea how out of date it is) and the comments (which may be years out of date too AFAIK). This is really bad usability and makes me unable to trust this post. Maybe the recommended plugin used to work but not any more, maybe it never worked. Without a date I have no idea.

        If you had the date in your permalinks then I would know how old this post was. EVERYONE PLEASE CONSIDER THIS! Dates in permalinks add bulk but they offer a real utility when a reader wants to know how fresh the content is.

        RE: NGINX: There was a question and I had the same question, since we are switching to Nginx soon (it’s a much faster replacement for Apache). It doesn’t have .htaccess files, but you can add similar commands in the vhost for your site if you control it. I fount this .htaccess->nginx converter that seems like it would work as a way to convert the output from Yoast’s tool: http://winginx.com/en/htaccess

        ANOTHER NOTE: I was unable to hit the “Post Comment” button on this post because it was hidden for some reason after I wrote my comment. I had to find it in Chrome Dev Tools and make it position:absolute just to click it.

        • AJ Clarke Avatar AJ Clarke

          Hi,

          The plugin should be pretty straight forward as it simply is used to redirect a specific permalink structure to another. I am pretty sure the support forum on the directory does have some better guides on how to use it, but I do agree this post could have gone into much better details about how to actually use the the plugin and not just recommend the plugin as is. This is a much older post (the post date is displayed at the bottom of the post where it says “Published on: March 26, 2014” – sorry you missed that, I’ve considered moving it to the top but design wise it doesn’t look as good) and I do believe our authors are much better trained now 😉

          I’m glad that the Yoast link was helpful to you! Thanks for sharing your experience!

          I don’t believe adding a date to the permalink is necessary at all when the date is on the post itself. However, adding dates to the comments do seem to be something we are lacking and that’s a very good idea. I’ll see how I can incorporate that to the design. Thank you for the feedback!

          Hum…We use JetPack comments on the site and when you click the textfield it should then dropdown and display the post comment button. I just retested in chrome to make sure and it does appear to be working for me (video text). I tested in all other browsers and couldn’t replicate the problem either. Do you have any sort of ad-blockers or chrome addons that could possibly causing the issue? I would really like to figure out why that’s happening so I can let the JetPack team know about the bug – thanks!

          • Irony Designs

            You saved me! It took me less than 5 minutes and it working perfectly!

  11. Edmond

    Hi,

    Is there any redirect rule from /%postname%/ to /%category%/%postname%/?

    Thanks for your attention.

    • AJ Clarke

      No sure what you mean Edmond, by default WordPress adds the %category% slug to the links and you actually have to remove it if you don’t want it.

  12. artexhibeo

    HI Aj Clarke,

    You said: Have a look at the Permalink Helper tool by Yoast.

    Does that mean that we can use only this tool and forget the 301 Redirect plugin.

    Another question: can we do a ‘roll back” if something wrong?

    Thanks

    • AJ Clarke

      The tool provided by Yoast should give you custom code to add to your .htaccess file to automatically redirect your posts, so no you won’t have to worry about using a redirection plugin. If something goes wrong, just delete the code you added 😉

  13. shabnam sultan

    Did not worked for me too 🙁

  14. Amar Ilindra

    Is it fine to add the redirection rule in .htaccess file? Or you recommend plugin for this?
    Thanks

    • AJ Clarke

      Yes, that’s fine.

  15. floroconcept

    Hi. I changed my permanent link by mistake and I had a 500 internal error and I can access to my admin or any place of my website. I has tried diferents options but I couldn’t find it. Can you help me please?. Than you very much.

    • AJ Clarke

      You will have to access via FTP to fix it, if you aren’t sure how maybe you can contact your webhost for some assistance.

  16. patternreplicas

    I tried several plugins until I found a stackoverflow topic where they replied that WordPress redirects the permalinks for us and we don’t have to do anything. For some reason it didn’t happen, so I searched the https://codex.wordpress.org/Using_Permalinks and it mentioned a mod_rewrite in Appache. I found the same feature in Wamp (my site is in my localhost, not online yet) and I activated the feature with the same name and now all redirections are working.

  17. Al

    Nice article. I’m wanting to change my site’s structure from /%postname%/ to /%category%/%postname%/ but that doesn’t seem to work when I enter that structure into Simple 301 redirects and I just get a 404 error on the original post rather than it redirecting to the post with category in the url. Any ideas?

    • AJ Clarke

      You should be changing your base structure at Settings->Permalinks.

  18. Katie Clark

    Hi AJ – I can never seem to get these 301 redirects to work. I’ve tried on a couple of different WP sites with no luck. I installed the plugin, change the permalink structure in settings – permalinks, and then set up the redirect in 301 redirect, but it still gives me a 404 error and it doesn’t redirect to a new link – the old link just shows up. Any ideas on what I can do?

    • AJ Clarke

      Hum. I am not really sure what you are trying to do Katie, but Yoast SEO has a great online script you can use to generate code for your .htaccess file for redirecting an old permalink structure to a new one.

  19. brasilh2o

    Hi,
    Is there a way to change permalinks of posts without losing facebook, twitter, etc comments and likes? maybe a plugin

    • AJ Clarke

      That’s impossible. What you need to do is redirect your old permalinks to your new ones. This way when someone clicks on a link via a social media it will redirect correctly to the same post with the new permalink.

  20. Karen Goodman

    I tried both the redirect tool by Yoast and a couple of plugins and it didn’t work for me. Tried it on 2 of my sites. Does it work instantly? Or does it take some time to build the redirection in the files? When I got errors, I put the old permalink structure back so that my sites wouldn’t be done so maybe I didn’t give it long enough.

    • AJ Clarke

      It should work right away because it’s supposed to redirect the links. I would recommend maybe seeking some professional support. It’s possible your server setup will require a different route.

  21. Nabtron

    How can we do this on nginx?

    • Kyla Avatar Kyla

      I really have no idea – perhaps one of our authors or readers knows?

  22. Laura

    I just added this plugin and it worked great for my site, except for my links on pinterest. Those were not redirected when they were clicked and resulted in a 404. Do I need to wait for something to be indexed or should that happen immediately?

  23. John-Bunya Klutse

    This was very insightful. Great job

  24. Saviour Sanders

    Thanks for the plugin you introduced me to. It has helped me a lot.

  25. Amanda @ My Life, I Guess

    I tried another plug-in like this and it just didn’t work for me, and was pretty complicated. I installed this one and within a minute it was up and redirecting like I had wanted. So thank you!

    I do have a question though… My urls are currently site.com/category/year/post-title and I really want them to just be site.com/post-title. I currently have 140 published posts, so would using a redirecting plugin like this one for every post slow down my website? Would attempting to change the .htaccess file be the better solution? Or would that (potentially) slow it down, too?

    Thank you again!

  26. Afeef

    I recently migrated from blogger to wordpress, now i want to change my perma links to post name only but when i do so, i get 404 errors, even though i can redirect 301 manually but isn’t there plugin which automatically 301 redirects all the permalinks once ?

  27. Florin

    Hello AJ. Thanks for the plugin.

    I’m thinking if i would just delete the posts that are already published and i would create new posts with the correct permalink. Would that be ok???

    What are your thoughts on this?

    Thanks

    • AJ Clarke Avatar AJ Clarke

      I think that would be a good idea and much easier 😉

  28. sndas50

    my client’s blog was earlier in default mode. I have changed it into /%postname%/ mode and added to redirect. But it is not working for me. Am I have to add in the .htaccess file?

  29. Purushottam Kadam

    I have tried this but not worked for me getting 404 error

  30. Purushottam Kadam

    this is really awesome tips to safely change wordpress permalinks

  31. nasy84

    Hi
    I just uploaded Maintain Blogger Permalinks and links are redirected to blogger short links, but now all my new wordpress links (which are longer) turn to 404, I uninstalled Maintain Blogger Permalinks but still have that problem,,

    How to remove it and make as it was please?

    • AJ Clarke Avatar AJ Clarke

      I would recommend asking the developer of the “Maintain Blogger Permalinks” (I am assuming it’s a plugin) and see if he/she can help you out, it sounds like there may be a bug that needs fixing.

  32. Aabha

    Good advice on using permalink.
    I believe that %postname% is the best permalink structure. I use %postname% in the url structure.

  33. EmmaMT from CakesBakesAndCookies.com

    Any advice for someone who has found this post a week or so too late and has messed up her permalinks and lost 60% of her traffic?

    • computathugz

      use the redirects plugin, check 404′ and redirect all the old traffic too the new urls, This will redirect traffic from referrals too where you have posted the link but it hs not changed, all old traffic needs redirecting too 😉

  34. Shah Jahan Labar

    I have changed my permalink structure, and used the yoast tool to redirect, but now my login urls are not working.

    • John Hughes Avatar John Hughes

      Hello Shah. I’d recommend contacting Yoast directly about your issue. You can find the right support at this link – http://kb.yoast.com/article/160-support.

      • sonalag

        I wish I had read reviews about Yoast here before I changed my permalinks structure. I changed my structure…. and Yoast malfunctioned badly. I reversed my permalink changes but my site still gets 404. Ultimately I have had to uninstall Yoast. I contacted Yoast but they dont have a handy solution. Yoast should fix this defect at priority.

  35. Computathugz

    If you get 404 errors after changing the permalinks structure follow these steps.

    What you need to do is access the server and make sure there is an .htacess file present, if not create on simply by opening notepad (i prefer to use notepad++ for editing)and copy and past this to it.

    # BEGIN WordPress
    RewriteEngine On
    RewriteBase /
    RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
    RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
    RewriteRule . /index.php [L]
    # END WordPress

    then save the file and upload it to the server. Then set the permissions on the file to 777, go to wp set the permalink structure you require and save. Then go back to you ftp and set the permissions on the htaccess file back to 644.

    All good to go.

  36. Gadi Eidelheit

    Thank you very much. It was a bit frightening to perform the task but the guide is very well written. I used the line to the .htaccess. It seems to take a minutes or so to work out but I hope it is OK now

  37. 1tourvn

    hey, i saw your post about permalink is very useful to increase my visitor UX. if i use the right type of permalink, it will makes my visitor easily remember the title of my post. tks for sharing.

  38. Sumit Khantwal

    Suppose I’m making change to my post slug, do I need to make redirection after changing post slug or it’s automatically redirected to new one.

  39. nicklausedwards

    Why does my dashboard not look black on the side and there is no option under settings for Permalinks? I would provide a screenshot but I cant upload it here. The side bar is a medium light gray and when I click settings nothing comes up under it. it just pulls up a page that has top tabs of General, Writing, Discussion, Analytics, SEO, Import, and Export.

    What am I doing wrong?

    • Kyla Avatar Kyla

      I think the confusion might be because you have a blog on WordPress.com – all of our tips & tutorials on WPExplorer are for self hosted WordPress. WordPress.com limits the available options so you won’t see all of the features we mention in our guide. But if you’re interested in switching over to self-hosted we have a ton of great posts to help in our blog 🙂

  40. Jenny N

    Thanks for great post. I have a blog that url contain ‘2015’ and now I want to change url to “2016”. I wondering if it affect to ranking for my blog?

    • AJ Clarke Avatar AJ Clarke

      Hi Jenny,

      If you have a lot of backlinks to this URL it can affect your SEO but all you need to do is 301 redirect your old URL to your new one either via your .htaccess file, host admin panel or redirection plugin. When you redirect the old URL to the new one it will pass on the page rank. As long as it’s just 1 url. If you have “2015” added to the URL’s of every blog post then you need to redirect all URLs to prevent issues.

      You should not be updating it to add a 2016 though – because you will have the same issues next year. Don’t add any date to the URL – it will also keep it slimmer which is better. Adding the year doesn’t do anything for SEO and it doesn’t do anything for usability (people prefer smaller URL’s).

  41. Arien

    Hi,

    If I change the status of a page into subpage via page attribute section, does that mean all external and internal links to the page will have to be changed as well?

    Thanks, Arien

    • AJ Clarke Avatar AJ Clarke

      Hi Arien. This would only create an issue if you are using slugs for parent pages in your URLs (which is a default WordPress action). But you can probably find a plugin or you can definitely use custom code to remove the parent slugs from child pages.

  42. John

    Thanks for this great guide.
    I understand the mentioned plugin might be useful when having to modify permalinks for some pages.

    But how to manage a whole directory site with more than 300 pages that will have a change in permalink structure?
    Is there a way or plugin that manages those changes globally and one-by-one as this plugin seems to do?

    Thanks for any guidance in this matter.

    • AJ Clarke Avatar AJ Clarke

      To change a bunch of pages at once the best solution is to use a .htaccess tweak or you can create a function that hooks into the WordPress template_redirect action hook to redirect your traffic.

  43. Emma

    Article is good that it is worth sharing. 98 shares for individual article shows that it is worth spending time and energy on the article. I could not go through all the comments. But it is sure that article has provided knowledge base to many of us.

  44. Johannes

    Thanks for the tips, but is there any way to automatically create a 301 redirect from an old page with updated slug to the new permalink? Seems to be hard to find.

  45. Lingki

    after changing permalink and 301r google not indexing my post why?
    no 404 but not indexing help

    • AJ Clarke Avatar AJ Clarke

      It takes time for Google to re-index your site. You can try re-submitting it to Google via WebMasters but it’s not guaranteed. The re-indexing depends on how valuable Google thinks your site is (backlinks, page rank, etc).

  46. Charles D. Shell

    My site is set with the default ‘plain’ permalinks. What do I put in the first field to change it to post name? What’s the tag?

    • Janus Rokkjær

      /%postname%/

  47. hafis Kan

    Thanks bother 🙂

  48. Praveen

    Thanks it helped to fix 404 errors.

  49. Munna Hossain

    Excellent article. Thanks for sharing with us. Changing old permalink is not a good idea. It will effect on ranking. So you must keep it error free. But if anyone still want to change the permalink redirection can be your good choice. Using redirection plugin you can change the permalink.

  50. Suhaib Hassan

    Hi my question is if we change the permalink to /%postname%/ then what happens to all backlinks that we have already created before

    • Kyla Avatar Kyla

      All of the backlinks to your old URLs will still exist but will result in a 404 error (since those URLs will no longer exist after changing the permalink). This is why your old posts and pages links need to be redirected to their new /%postname%/ URLs. This article can walk you through how to do this with the free Simple 301 Redirects plugin. Hope it helps!

  51. El Patr0n

    When it comes to change permalink structure, the first thing which comes in mind is to install WP 404 Auto redirect similar post.

    It will redirect all 404 to similar pages via 301 headers based on the words used in the URL. It’s blazing fast and very reliable!

  52. mykalvi

    Okay, now i’ve changed my URL to new URL with 301 redirect.

    Can i Submit this new URL to google ? or can i try FETCH as Google option?

    Thanks.

    • Kyla Avatar Kyla

      I would recommend going to Google Webmasters and adding your new domain as a new site. You can re-submit the site to Google but generally there isn’t any need to, it’s best if you simply start sharing the new URL via social media and getting backlinks to the new URL. The more backlinks the more important Google thinks your site is and the faster it will re-index everything.

  53. Rashmi and Chalukya

    We currently have a date format in permalink and would like to change it to post. If we use Redirection plugin then we would have to change each and every URL manually right? And what would be the first step change the permalink structure and start updating the URL or vice-versa?

    • AJ Clarke Avatar AJ Clarke

      Hi. We’ll it really depends. How many posts do you have published and do you have a lot of backlinks? If you don’t have many posts I recommend just using manual 301 redirections. If you have a lot of posts but very few backlinks I wouldn’t bother doing anything. The real reason to direct the posts is for SEO reasons to pass on page rank but if you don’t have a lot of backlinks it doesn’t really matter. You could do an SEO audit to see how important it really is to spend the time doing the redirections. But no, technically you don’t have to do it manually you can use a REGEX to auto redirect all of them or use a function that hooks into the redirect_canonical hook in WordPress. There is also a plugin named “Post Date Change Redirection” you could test and see if it works well for you (it has positive ratings).

  54. bilal

    Great, really helped me with permalinks on my e-commerce website thank you.

  55. Michelle

    Will this redirect link EVERYTHING to my new site now? From what I understand these redirects are for internal links that are broken now because of changes with the permalink. What about an external redirect i.e. went from a wordpress.com to a self hosted site. How do I link anything that directed people to old blog, now to new blog?

    • AJ Clarke Avatar AJ Clarke

      Hi Michelle, if you are redirecting your WordPress.com domain you will need to use their redirection service as mentioned here.

  56. venkat

    I have the same question as Rashmi and chlukya. My site is 10 years old, have more than 5000 posts, want to change permalink structure. the current one has date in it. Can you advice how to go. Thanks.

    • AJ Clarke Avatar AJ Clarke

      With so many posts and such an old site SEO is very important here. Personally if already rank very well on search engines and you can avoid changing the permalinks it may be best because you could experience a drop in traffic when changing things, especially if you have a lot of backlinks. Now, in terms of changing the structure it’s pretty simple. All you need to do is go to Settings > Permalinks and change the structure to “Postname” then in your site’s .htaccess file add the following:

      RedirectMatch 301 ^/([0-9]{4})/([0-9]{2})/(.*)$ http://yourwebsite.com/$3

      This should redirect the old date based urls’s to the new post-name based URL’s. Let me know if you have any followup questions or issues.

  57. Nazrul Islam

    Great, really helped me with permalinks on my e-commerce website thank you.

    • Kyla Avatar Kyla

      That’s great to hear! Especially since you’re running an e-commerce site (I’m sure you have lots of important product links) – glad our guide to help you change WordPress permalinks 🙂

  58. Christopher Brugnola

    I REALLY wish I had found this super helpful article before changing my permalink structure for my entire site at the advice of my web host provider while troubleshooting an issue. I was not warned at all that I would need to create 301 re-directs to preserve my SEO. Needless to say, my SEO has tanked and my organic traffic and revenue are in the toilet a week later 🙁

    Aside from creating the re-directs after the fact to reduce lingering 404 errors, is there anything I can do to minimize damage? I had one article in particular which I considered my bread-and-butter for organic discovery. It used to display first on key search terms; it won’t even crack the first page now.

    • Kyla Avatar Kyla

      We feel for you! When we made the switch to https it was a scary (but very necessary) change to all of our links, and a bit of trial and error was involved. A few things that we’ve done is to keep a close eye on any errors or warnings that pop up in the Google Search Console, contacting high value backlinks to see if the site will update the link and focusing on general SEO (updating or removing old content, pagespeed optimizations etc). Unfortunately SEO is one of those things where there are no guarantees, but these are a few of the things we’ve done to stay on track. I hope it helps!

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