How to change permalink in WordPress and should you change it?

WordPress supports five types of permalinks – plain, day and name, month and name, numeric, post name, and custom. The custom structure can be built using these ten tags – year, monthnum, day, hour, minute, second, post_id, postname, category, and author. The plain URL structure contains a question mark and the page or post ID. To be honest, it is not the best link type out there. This is because the search engine displays the slug in the search results. You would like to make the best use of this feature of search engines.

If you set any other type than the postname, the hyperlink will be long, and search engines may show only a part of the slug (part of the link). You can change the permalink type from the permalinks page that you’ll find under the Settings menu of WP. This page of WP shows the six types we’ve discussed above, along with a radio button. Below the radio buttons, you will find two textboxes to set a custom structure for the category and tag pages.

By default, you can access the WordPress category page using this URL domain_name/category/category_name, where category_name is the name of the category you’ve created. A user can create as many categories as they want, but the category page would be accessible using the URL we’ve shared. If you enter a word in the two textboxes, your category/tag page will be accessible using this URL domain_name/word/category_name. The same thing applies to tags.

To change the permalink, you should choose one of the radio buttons displayed on the page and click the save button.

What to do after changing the permalink?

Replace internal links: Hyperlinks you insert in the blog posts will have the old structure. You should replace them with their newer version if possible. We’ve shared a tutorial on the same in our how to find or replace URL or text in WordPress article.

Redirect the URLs: Every old URL must be redirected to the new URL with an appropriate status code. If you don’t do so and your site was ranking well before you changed its permalink, the visitor will see a 404 page instead of the page they intended to visit. What would be the impact of this?

Website visit time will be low: If you’ve set up Google Analytics on your website, the time user has spent on your website would be very low. This is because as the user didn’t find content on your website, they may have looked for similar content in search engines.

Bounce rate: The bounce rate of the website will be very high as most of the users would have closed the page immediately.

Removal of pages from the search index: If the old hyperlink doesn’t redirect to newer ones, search engines will encounter 404 errors and may start removing the pages from the index if the admin or website owner doesn’t fix the issue.

How to create redirects? You can use a WordPress redirection plugin to add redirect the pages manually if your website is small (has 20 to 30 pages) or put the redirection code in the web server config file. Users with a subscription plan of Rank Math or SEOPress plugin can use the plugin’s built-in redirection module to add redirects. You should create one of these two types of redirects – one without regex and one with regex. The redirect involving the regex pattern will take care of the URLs whose pattern matches the one defined in the regex.

When should you change the WordPress post/page link structure? Change the permalink structure only if your website is new or a few days old and receives no or very low search engine traffic. Changing the URL structure of a website that gets good traffic can have disastrous consequences.

Should you change the site permalink structure? If you’re running an established site, you shouldn’t mess with its URL structure unless you know what you’re doing.


Pramod is the founder of wptls. He has been using WordPress for more than nine years. He builds web applications, and writes about his experiences with various WP products on this site.

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