How to Change Site Permalinks structure Without Breaking Internal Links

Changing the site permalinks structure on your website is not a big deal. You can Change permalinks structure just through a single click, but it’s a major undertaking actually. You should be very clear and sure about what kind of changes you want to make to the website because it could cause many errors to link broken links, 404 error, etc. if you did not manage properly.

Every single page, post, and media file on your site has a unique permalink (Stands for Permanent link) URL. These URLs or Permanent links are created using a predefined structure. So it could cause lots of problems with SEO rankings, broken inbound links (within your own site structure), and obsolete links from other sites.

It would help if you had a clear plan for changing your site’s links before you do so. So you can switch easily on an even more optimized URL (Permalinks) structure. You need to know how you can best apply the redirects to avoid errors link 404.

In this article, I’ll discuss what permalinks are more SEO friendly and reasons for changing them on your site. I’ll also share some best practices and instructions to change the URL structure properly.

Why would you Change your site Permalinks Structure?

There are many reasons you should change your website’s permalink structure, particularly if you are using the default WordPress permalink structure. Changing your permalinks structure, whether on an old site, migrating domain, or creating a new one, is pretty simple. But, making changes to the permalinks structure on an old or established website may have bad effects. So, it would help if you made an appropriate strategy before you start to change permalinks structure, consider whether you need to modify your permalink structure or not.

There are many valid reasons for modifications.

Suppose you started with an older version of WordPress and still using the default WordPress permalinks structure, consisting of the Post URL permalinks or ID. This old structure is useless, worthless for SEO, and delivers no useful information about your content.

Possibly you purchased an established website as an investment and now wants to take your site in a different direction and need to update the structure to reflect that change.

Suppose you want to change the permalink structure for re-branding purposes. Changing could cause unnecessary headaches. If you decided that you should change your site permalink structure, you can follow the mentioned steps and change your site links safely.

Step 1

Change Site Permalinks Structure in WordPress

Changing site permalinks structure in WordPress is very easy.  Go into the Permalinks menu and make the change. Navigate to Settings >> Permalinks and make your selection from the settings screen.

Wordpress site Permalinks

Once you make your selection, click on Save

  1. Now you need to take care of all of the internal links and should update correctly. You need to update manual links you added because all links to your website from elsewhere will become completely broken, and all information indexed by search engines will be incorrect.
  2. Once you changed your site’s permalinks structure, you have to fix broken links with 301 redirects.
  3. Once you changed your site’s permalinks structure, now you have to fix broken links with 301 redirects.

As you noted previously, changing the structure of your permalinks straightforward process. But, it would help if you dealt with the broken links. Every reference linked to your content or on external sites is broken now, and search engines’ indexed content is also incorrect.

We have a simple fix for this problem, and that is to setup 301 redirects on your website. 301 redirects mainly explain to any browser which comes to your website using an old structured permalink where the linked content is. It also provides search engines that this is a permanent URL change. It would help if you also customized your 404 (not found) page to catch broken internal links that you may have avoided.

Step 2

We have a free WordPress plugin to do this job very easily.

  1. Simple 301 Redirects Plugin

After installing and activating the Simple 301 Redirects Plugin, you will find a new menu in your dashboard’s settings area.

Simple 301 Redirects Plugin - Permalinks

Simple 301 Redirects Plugin is easy to use, so you don’t need to worry about it. You will find two simple fields In the 301 Redirects settings window. The first one is called Request and the second one is the Destination. You enter the old URL (permalinks) structure and the new URL structure.  After you have added two fields, save the changes. Done, your internal links permalinks structure is changed as you defined.

  1. Yoast SEO Permalink Helper Tool

Yoast SEO Permalink helper tool is handy to create 301 Redirects for your new permalinks structure. This online tool generates a simple code depending on the current permalink structure, so you can easily add in the .htaccess file of your site to redirect all the posts safely to the new structure.

Yoast SEO Permalink Helper Tool

This is a beneficial tool; however, it only provides you a code to redirect the permalinks structure. The simple 301 Redirects Plugin enables you to redirect multiple sources to various destinations.

Step 3

Re-index your New Permalinks structure in Search Engine

As I mentioned before, search engines will have wrong information once you changed the permalinks structure. However, this problem is not in your control as a site owner. Search engines regularly crawl sites and update them when they find changes so that this problem will correct itself over time.

However, you can help the process by creating an XML Sitemap and then manually request re-indexing your site with search engines.

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