Changing Your Permalink Structure

Permalinks Changed Dont have to feel like you flew into a brick wall

Permalinks Changed Don't have to feel like you flew into a brick wall

Changing your blog’s permalink structure can be good for the SEO but it can make you feel like you just flew into a brick wall.   The headache makes you just want to hang it up and forget the whole thing.   But with Patients, it is worth the effort.

I wrote about permalink structures almost two years ago.   I want to revisit this today.   There is a new custom permalink plugin which might be very useful for some of you wanting to make the change.

Changing an existing permalink structure requires patients

Most changes you make to your blog the results can be seen instantly; make the change, check it out.   BUT NOT SO WITH A PERMALINK change.   Since this is a change to the permanent link, it requires the DSN to reset the permalink.   This can take minutes to hours. You have to be patient.   Changing it back and forth wondering what you did wrong only makes the problem worse.   Make the change, leave it, YES, LEAVE IT ALONE! It will work.

Changing the Permalink sturcture will effect your sitemap as well

If you change your permalink structure, while waiting for the DSN to reset you should generate a new sitemap.   It doesn’t matter what software you are using to do this.   But you do want to do this.   If you are using the Google Sitemap plugin it will do it the next time you write a post, but why wait.   Go into the plugin options page and manually generate a new sitemap.

Personally, I’ve stopped using the plugin.   After deleting the sitemap to help Google find my combined blog I found I didn’t really need a sitemap.   Maybe in the beginning, for a new blog without any history with Google and the other search engines to kind of say like the donkey “Pick Me, Pick Me” so they know you are there.   But once you are getting your posts indexed in a matter of hours or minutes I don’t see a need for it.

The other reason I’ve stopped using it.   There were a couple of bugs in the plugin which really confused google because when using a custom permalink structure of /%category%/%postname%/ it was leaving out the categories in the permalink causing a lot of 404 page not found errors.

The Custom Permalink Plugin

I’m looking for a lab rat.   I’ve always set all my blogs up with the custom permalink structure mentioned above.   I don’t have any blogs using the default structure on which to test this plugin and how it effectively it works handling the new structure and the 301 redirects.   If it works the way it says it does it is a godsend for anyone wanting to change an existing blog’s permalinks structure with minimal disruption to readers and search engines.

Anyone out there willing to give it a try?   It would be nice if someone had an old blog, not really being used but still active on which this plugin could be used as an experiment.   Any takers out there?   I’d be glad to host a guest blog post for effort and results, good or bad.

Custom Permalinks on a New Blog

If you are setting up a new blog and you want to use the custom permalink structure /%category%/%postname%/ here is what I recommend.

  1. Run the Install and setup of the new blog
  2. In the first minute the blog exists delete the first post and about page
  3. Setup the custom permalink structure

Because the new blog has content (about page and hello world post) with a default permalink structure it might be picked up by the DSN in a matter of moments.   When this happens and you then put the custom permalink structure in place the post and page will diappear while the DSN resets.   This can take minutes to hours.   Most of us aren’t patient enough for this and start tweaking and tinkering and wondering what we did to “break” the blog.

By deleting the content you don’t have to worry about the DSN grabbing this content under the default permalink structure.   You can create an about page or any other content you want after you change the permalink structure and it should be there immediately.

One Caveat to this, “There is always one isn’t there.”   If the new blog is in a directory of an existing blog; it might take a few hours for the blog to show up.   If you see it going to the root directory blog for your post or about page, again, “BE PATIENT” it will take a few hours or minutes for it to be sorted out by the DSN.   It will sort it out.   Don’t start fiddling with things to make it appear.   You will just create more issues by doing so and delay the DSN figuring out what is going on.

You don’t have to use a plugin to change your permalink structure.   It can be done simply making the changes you want and adding 301 redirect statements to an htaccess file.   But the easiest way is to set it up with the custom permalinks right from the start.


  1. jf.sellsius says

    Great advice Dave. Do you recommend the custom permalink structure /%category%/%postname%/%year%/%monthnum%/%day%/
    over the default.. or some other?

  2. Joe,

    My personal preference is the /%category%/%postname% But I don’t see any reason why it couldn’t go further with the date information since the front of the URL is weighted for keywords.

    Great to hear from you. Really would love to see you again in person.

    Thanks for dropping by the lab.

  3. jf.sellsius says

    Whenever I come by, I learn something– so I ought to come round more often. Hope to see you again soon, Dave. Will you be attending Inman in January?

  4. Joe,

    I would love to be there and photographing the city would be great. But the cost of the conference is more than my conservative nature can budget.

    Maybe SF next summer. But even that is expensive by my standards. : )

  5. I am glad that my impatience contributed to your inspiration to this blog post. As always, your help is greatly appreciated.

  6. I need to change my structure. I will be your lab rat if you will help me 🙂

  7. Nicole,

    I’ll be glad to help you with the process. Now I’ll have to study up on how to use this plugin : )

    You can email me direct so we can go over your blog and how to implement the change. You will also be invited to guest post about the process and results.

    Thanks for the offer, good lab rats are hard to find.

    “Disclaimer” no lab rats are ever harmed in any blog lab experiments.

  8. Hey, Lost touch with you. When can we get started on that migration?


  9. Nicole,

    I think you should upgrade to WP 2.7 first. Then we can start the restructure. I’ve been busy doing that on all my blogs this week. I’ll read up on using the permalinks plugin and see if it is compatible with 2.7

  10. OK. I will take a look at that and get it done.

  11. Nicole,

    Just did a little more in depth research on the plugin. It won’t function under 2.7. It also requires doing each page or post individually. There is no batch process of setting the structure and having apply to the entire site.

    I don’t think you want to do this for your entire blog. I think a better approach would be to bite the bullet and redo the permalinks and create an htaccess file to handle the 301 redirects till the search engines find the new permalink.

  12. Hey Dave,

    Great post. I found another plugin. Are you familiar with it?