How to Change the Permalink in WordPress Without Effecting SEO?

how to change the permalink in wordpress without effecting SEO

How to Change the Permalink in WordPress Without Effecting SEO?

Permalink as the name indicates is a link that is permanent in nature. It is not a good idea to change it.
But you might have some valid reasons to change it.

Why Change the Permalink (URLs)?

There can be some reasons you may want to move your website to another URL.

One of the most common reasons involves structure changes during a rebranding effort, site migration, or design overhaul.

And in this case, defining elements like domain name, product types, platform changes, etc. no longer allows you to keep the same URLs.

Some other reasons for changing a URL may be:

• New company name
• Building a new website
• Any security concern or damage to your domain reputation.
• Take an old link that pointed at a previously held event and now point it at a current event.
• To point a user to a more appropriate piece of content.
• To update a dead or a bad link.

How Does Changing Permalink affect SEO?

Even minor changes to your URL or Permalink such as changing domain, adding or removing punctuation, or any capitalization in your directory can have a serious impact on your SEO.

When you are moving to a new domain, you must understand the history of a new domain. If the new domain had a history of penalties or spam, you are going to experience a serious drop in traffic. Also, you might have the risk of duplicate content and messy redirects.

Whatever be the reason to change a permalink or URL, it will likely show you a drop in website traffic while Google indexes the changes. This is when you perform things correctly.

But if errors are made, the loss may be very significant and irrecoverable. So when any permalink is changed, your organic search performance is going to drop and this will be very harmful.

Is it Possible to Change the Permalinks?

Yes, you can change the permalinks, and for that Google recommends using 301 redirects. This will help you prevent links or indexing errors.

If you want a seamless transition moving an old website to a new domain. Even if you want people to be able to access your site through multiple URLs, or in case of a full site overhaul and want to merge websites, a 301 redirect is appropriate. So always use 301 redirects if you do decide to change permalinks.

If you change the permalink without informing search engines, they will consider it as a new page. This means that any backlinks pointing to the page will be lost and any users that open the page will get a 404 error since the page has changed address.

To minimize these issues and maintain your SEO rankings, you need to add a 301 redirection to your .htaccess file to inform search engine crawlers about the change.

A very important note is that don’t do a rel canonical from https to http and leave the https live, that too if your website doesn’t work on https. It will adversely impact your conversion rate optimization (CRO).

Always create a redirect strategy before you begin to preserve your site’s traffic and link quality. In this way your permalink will inherit the old URL;s link authority rather than having to earn it from scratch. By doing this the old links will be de-indexed over time.

7 Steps to change the permalink in WordPress without losing SEO

Here is a step by step example:

Let’s say that your current permalink is:–for-a-startup-business
and you want to change it to:

You can change the permalink of a page by editing the URL right below the title if you are on WordPress

Step 1

Open the page in EDIT mode, change the permalink (URL) and click the UPDATE button.

change permalink

Step 2

You can change the permalink by using an FTP program. For that locate the .htcaccess file found in the ROOT folder of your website, then download it to your local PC and edit it using Notepad or other text editors.

Step 3

Now, add the following line and save the file.

Redirect 301 /digital-marketing-strategies–for-a-startup-business

Here you can notice that you don’t need to include the domain name for the (source) URL, but you must include the full permalink for the (target URL)

Step 4

The next step is to upload the file back to your webserver.

Step 5

Test in a new browser that everything is working as expected. If you type the old URL in the new browser, it will redirect you to the new page.

Step 6

When everything is perfect visit Google Search Console and use the URL inspection tool to make sure that search engines can access the new permalink without any problems.

URL Inspection tool in Google Search Console

Step 7

The last step is to make sure that the new permalink address is included in your XML Sitemap

Final Words

Now you must understand that the permalink is the URL of a page. Every page published online must have its own distinct URL.

However, it is not recommended to change the permalink of the page. But if you need to do it for some unavoidable reasons then it must be done cautiously.

This can be done by adding a 301 redirection. By doing this search engines and users are redirected to the new address without getting a 404 (NOT FOUND) error message.

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