Recently, I was faced with the uphill battle (or so I thought) of having to change my existing permalinks to a shorter URL structure.
When I first started this blog I thought it would be a good idea to include both the category and the title of the post (which ended up being edited to my keyword) as my permalink structure for my URL's.
The reason for this was simply for SEO purposes, as I thought that including a category in the URL would help me to rank higher.
Well I am sure this strategy would have helped in the past, but since Google introduced it's new strict rules on over optimization, I realised that it was doing more harm than good. Including the category in the permalink only made the URL extremely long, and Google clearly didn't like it. 🙁
I decided that I wanted much shorter URL's, and for my URL's to display my domain and keyword only. Now I should add, that doing this on a brand new blog with no posts, is extremely easy and is no big deal. But, at this point in time my blog had around 200 posts, and if I changed my permalinks then the old URL's for all of those posts would be dead links.
The last thing that I wanted was having hundred of links to my site being broken by adjusting the permalink structure. All of the back links that I had accumulated over the history of the blog would have been lost forever, and this was not a viable option.
The answer was to find something that would allow me to be able to redirect my old URL's to the new URL created by the change in permalinks. It appeared to be a very serious problem that could take a long time to fix.
So, I began searching for an answer to the problem on Google and eventually stumbled across a perfect solution that took about 60 seconds to fix, and worked like a charm.
Here is what you need to do to change your permalink settings:
1. Install the plugin "Advanced Permalinks".
You will need to install and activate a WordPress plugin called Advanced Permalinks, just the same as you would install any other plugin.
2. Change your permalinks.
Go to the "Settings" menu in your WordPress dashboard and choose the "Permalinks" option. If you have installed the plugin, your screen should look something like the image below.
This is the section where you set the permalink structure that you want to start using from this point forward. In my case I selected the "Post name" option, but you can choose what ever option suits you best. If you can't find the one you want on the list, then do a Google search to find the code for it, and paste it into the "Custom Structure" section.
I recommend you keep it simple though and simply choose the "Post name" option in the image above.
3. Redirect your old permalink settings to your new settings.
At the top of the screen you need to click on the link that says Migration – see image below:
OK, now you need to type or paste in your old permalink settings into the box above, and click on the "Add" button to the right. Your old permalink will be saved, displayed and highlighted in green – just like above. You can see above that I have added the permalink "/%category%/%postname%/" to the list.
Once this step is done you can test your old URL's and will see them redirected to the new URL, which has been created by changes that you just made to the permalink. So, therefore if there are any links on the internet pointing to the old URL's, they will still work and will not be dead.
That is how simple this brilliant plugin makes the entire process. And obviously all future blog posts will be created with the new URL structure that you have specified in the permalink settings in Step 2.
And the end result:
Here is an example of an old blog post with the original permalinks: http://lowcostmarketingstrategies.com/low-cost-marketing-strategies/the-top-six-low-cost-marketing-strategies-to-use-on-a-budget/
And here is an example of the same blog post with the new permalinks: http://lowcostmarketingstrategies.com/the-top-six-low-cost-marketing-strategies-to-use-on-a-budget/
If you were to click on both of the URL's above, you would find that they both go to exactly the same place and the problem is solved.