How To: Switching Your WordPress Blog’s Permalink Stucture

As a follow up to yesterday’s post about WordPress permalink structure (where a good discussion took place in the comments), I decided today that I would dedicate a post to showing you how to switch your blog’s permalink structure without creating any invalid URL’s.

The easiest way to accomplish this is to grab the Permalink Redirect plugin (my plugin review here) and activate it. Once activated, when you go into the Settings panel you should find a new tab called Permalink Redirect. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and you should see this:

In the old permalink structures box, you can paste your current permalink structure there (depending on which you choose, something like /%year%/%monthnum%/%day%/%postname%/). If you are unsure what exactly to type, please refer to the permalink page on the WordPress Codex.

Now save and go to the Permalinks tab. Select the custom field and type /%postname%/, then save.

Now go to an old URL and it should automatically redirect you to the same post’s new URL.   The search engines will see the 301 redirect and update accordingly!

Any questions? Feel free to comment below!

Update: I believe the plugin has changed since this was written.  If you are comfortable updating your .htaccess file, you can instead redirect all your links to the new /%postname%/ url by adding the following:

RedirectMatch 301 /([0-9]+)/([0-9]+)/([0-9]+)/(.*)$$4

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  • How To: Setting Up Your WordPress Permalink Structure

    One of the great things about using WordPress is the built-in SEO advantages that this software gives you over building static pages or other blogging software. You have an advantage from the start over others not using WordPress! With that said, there are a lot of SEO techniques that need to be set up or applied by the user. The permalink structure is one of these that you can easily set up when creating your blog and then forget about it.

    By default, your WordPress Dashboard gives you a 3 choices to choose from. The default permalink structure is a terrible option from an SEO standpoint and the other two aren’t bad, but they aren’t your best option. According to Matt Cutts at WordCamp 2007 (Matt is the lead guy for the Google Search team), the best permalink structure you can use is just the post title with hyphens. According to Matt:

    • Don’t put your blog at the root of your domain.
    • Name your directory “blog” instead of “WordPress”.
    • In URLs, no spaces are worst, underscore are better, dashes or hyphens are best.
    • Use alt tags on images: not only is it good accessibility, it is good SEO.
    • Include keywords naturally in your posts.
    • Make your post dates easy to find.
    • Check your blog on a cell phone and/or iPhone.
    • Use partial-text feeds if you want more page views; use full-text feeds if you want more loyal readers.
    • Blogs should do standard pings.
    • Standardize backlinks (don’t mix and match www with non-www).
    • Use a permanent redirect (301) when moving to a new host.
    • Don’t include the post date in your URL.

    For WordPress users, this is easy to set up. Go into your blog’s Options panel and click on the Permalinks tab. You should see the following:

    WordPress Permalink Structure

    Click the custom radio button and type /%postname%/ into the field. This is the most ideal setup for your WordPress blog.

    If you already have an established blog using another structure, you can easily use the Permalink Redirect WordPress plugin to redirect your posts to the new structure.

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  • 10 WordPress Plugins Every Blog Should Be Using

    When it comes to WordPress, there are many things that separate it from the competition. My personal favorite, though, is the WordPress community, which has contributed all sorts of WordPress plugins to anyone using the WordPress software. These are available for free without any obligation.

    Many plugins are situational, either for certain types of blogs, or for certain particular functions, and probably don’t have a place on every WordPress blog. There are a few, however, that every WordPress blog should be using in some form.

    Here is my list of the top plugins all WordPress blogs should be using, in no particular order:

    • Related Posts – Arguably the most important plugin WordPress has to offer. This plugin shows a designated number of related entries below your post (or wherever you want to place it). This is ideal for anyone, but especially for those that get a lot of search engine traffic. It goes a long way to keep web surfers on your site.
    • Add Related Posts to Your Feed – Adds the above mentioned Related Posts to your feed (requires the Related Posts or Ultimate Tagging Warrior plugin(s) to be installed in order to work).
    • All-in-One SEO Pack – This is the ultimate SEO plugin for optimizing your blog for search engines. It automates the SEO process and gives you control over individual title, tags, and description information.
    • Permalink Redirect – This plugin does a permanent 301 redirect. This will ensure that search engines don’t penalize you for duplicate posts when they index your site (with and without the www, as well as posts that don’t include the trailing /). This plugin now also redirects your site’s default feed to your Feedburner feed and allows you to set up custom redirects.
    • WP-Contact Form – Many e-mail spammers search the web looking for e-mail addresses to use for spam purposes. Having your e-mail address available on somewhere on your website (including in the code somewhere) makes you vulnerable to these people. This plugin creates a contact form that people can use to contact you, so your e-mail address is not displayed. It also includes spam protection and some other optional features.
    • WP-DB Manager – This plugin gives you full control of your database, including how to back it up, restore it, and deleting tables when necessary. If this plugin proves to be to advanced, the alternative is WordPress Database Backup, which allows you to backup your database, but doesn’t make it easy to restore it if something comes up.
    • Google Sitemaps – Generates an XML-Sitemap file of your website that Google, Yahoo!, and MSN will use to index your blog. This ensures Google is aware of all of your new posts, as well as any updates you’ve made to posts that were previously indexed and need to be updated.
    • Akismet – This plugin comes by default with all current WordPress installations, but requires activation. You can obtain a free key to activate it. It will catch most spam and place it in a approval queue so you can view it before it is posted on to your website.
    • Bad Behavior – Prevents known spam bots from accessing your website and is compatible with Akismet (mentioned above).
    • Gamer’s Pack – As video game technology continues to increase, this plugin will be more and more important. This plugin that makes your website easily viewable on the Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS, and Sony PSP gaming systems. I’ve also found it helps people trying to view your website on a cellular phone.

    So, there is my list. 10 plugins that I feel all WordPress users should use regardless of what type of blog they are running. I intentionally did not include any plugins that use comments, as many blogs do not accept comments, making these plugins not needed for them. My goal with this post was to cover only plugins that should be used regardless of the type of blog is being run.

    Is there a plugin that you feel should have been included on this list? Let me know in the comments below!

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  • Prevent Duplicate Pages with Permalink Redirect

    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:

    Wrong URL(s):

    Correct URL:

    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:

    Old URL:

    New URL:

    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.

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