There are only a select few WordPress plugins that I would consider “must-haves” for all types of blogs, no matter what the blog is about. Whenever I set up a new WordPress blog for someone, the first plugin I install is called Permalink Redirect. Everything can be controlled from within the Options panel, and it works out of the box without anything manual to set up.
What does this plugin do? If you are using the most current version of this plugin, you’ll see that it is able to manage several different aspects of your WordPress blog. Its main function is to do a 301 redirect for all of your pages. This means that it will redirect any alternate URL’s to the URL of your choosing. For example, this plugin automatically does the following for this blog:
If a reader enters one of the above incorrect URL addresses trying to reach my homepage, it will automatically redirect them to the correct homepage for this blog. Your browser already does this you say? That is probably correct. Most 2nd generation web browsers do in fact do this for you, but search engine spiders don’t use web browsers. Instead, search engine spiders would actually count these as 4 different web pages and could penalize you for having duplicate content.
This plugin will also do the same 301 redirects for all individual webpages, as well as give you the option of manually redirecting certain pages if you change the post slug of that particular post or page for whatever reason.
One often forgotten feature is the ability to redirect your posts if you were to change the permalink structure of your blog. For example, if you were to start out with the popular URL structure that many WordPress users use for their blog that includes the dates of the posts in the URL, you could later switch to a different structure (such as removing the date information to improve your search engine rankings) and redirect it with this plugin. It will automatically redirect all of your old posts to your new URL structure and make a flawless redirection for any old inbound links, as well as guide the search engine spiders to index your new post structure. An example of how this would look if I did this for this blog:
What about feed redirection? Many bloggers now take advantage of the amazing features Feedburner has to offer by setting up their blogs feed with them. This can prove to be a bit of a headache to adjust all of your blog’s feeds to point to your new Feedburner feed, so this plugin will also take care of this for you. When in the options panel, simply enter your Feedburner feed address and save, and any time someone clicks on your default feed, they will automatically be redirected to your new Feedburner feed. This will help ensure you have an accurate count of feed subscribers, rather than splitting them up on multiple feeds.
Overall, I am a huge fan of this WordPress plugin, and encourage anyone with a WordPress blog to use it. Now that tags are built into the default install of WordPress, I’m hoping this will be the next feature to be built into the software. It is definitely crucial in my opinion.