I was working on one of my blogs over the weekend and unfortunately ran into a dilemma that I’m sure you’ve experienced before. I really wanted to the change the permalink structure on my wordpress installation yet was hesitant because of the potential ramifications.
I’ve been using the same permalink structure for a couple years (/%category%/%postname%/) and was in denial of the negative SEO effects associated with that structure on my particular site which has redundant subcategories, among other keyword duplications in my urls.
Wait. That is easy.
Not so fast ambitious blogger. Haven’t you forgot something?
WordPress does not automatically redirect these new links while search engines have an emotional attachment to your links as they are. That is why it’s important to redirect the old links properly with 301 redirects.
With all of that jargon out of the way. I honestly spent a good 24 hours combing the web in search of a proper solution. Yet, despite my most creative efforts, I could not stop landing on Dean’s outdated migration plugin.
Fully understanding the risks, I decided that I would install the plugin and give it a shot. At first glance everything appeared well, my links were redirecting when I tested my old urls on google, everything was beautiful, there wasn’t a problem to be seen, besides a slight drawback that I will mention later.
Or so I thought.
I tried to leave a comment on my blog and was redirected to the dreaded 404 not found page which is an immediate sign that there was going to be a multitude of issues. Without getting into further detail, if you followed my same path, “comment-page-1” might ring a bell. Another problem that I was lucky enough to experience before disabling the beast, was the fact that I couldn’t switch to the exact permalink structure that I was planning on using. Thus meaning that I had to settle for (/%postname%/) which wordpress advises against for performance reasons.
I’ve got a good enough server with Godaddy so that wasn’t really a main concern. It is good to note that the optimal permalink structure for performance includes a date or id before the postname. It is safe to say that is true SEO wise as well.
One more note, if you’re currently using Dean’s migration plugin or something similar, switching might be a good idea because some search engines take ages to update all your links and if you disable the plugin then you’re back in the same boat.
How did you change your permalink structure then?
Some how I ended up stumbling on, Platinum SEO Pack. Don’t let the name fool you, it’s absolutely free. Luckily for me it allows you to import your All in One Seo settings and seemingly has all the same features if not more.
What I needed was clearly defined in the feature list.
* Automatic 301 redirects for any permalink changes
* Canonical URLs
* Optimized Post and Page Titles for search engines
* Generates all SEO relevant META tags automatically
Seeing is believing. I simply enabled the plugin and my permalink structure was correctly 301 redirecting according to W3C’s link validator.
What I found outstanding is that nobody has mentioned this solution to what would seem like common problem for wordpress users.
I can’t validate the author of the plugin any further than wordpress does. I just found this solution and wanted to share it with you, hopefully saving people time in the process.
I’ll let you have the debate on the best structure, but at least you can change your permalinks without any great fright unless you’re slightly paranoid of the wrath of google. I don’t blame you. If you do believe that 301 redirects will negatively affect your rankings, remember that a small hit in the short term is still probably worth the long term benefits.
Please leave a comment if you have any opinions on the matter at hand. Furthermore, if you found this helpful in any way than make sure to post up your appreciations, maybe the author of the plugin (Rajesh) will read them.
I also hope that I didn’t come off as unfair to Dean who is the author of the permalink migration plugin. He seems to have done great work and maybe his plugin still benefits some.