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Change WP Permalinks for Better SEO

Dec-02-2009 | Author: | Blog, Customizations

There are a million different articles out there for optimizing your blog for seo by changing wordpress’s default permalink structure to something other than the default.

http://codex.wordpress.org/Using_Permalinks
http://wphacks.com/how-to-switch-your-wordpress-blogs-permalink-structure/
http://stackoverflow.com/questions/1523689/how-can-i-update-my-permalink-structure-in-wordpress
http://www.searchenginejournal.com/seo-friendly-url-structure/4556/

After reading and realizing the risk of breaking all my links and having search engines reject me if I did it wrong, I decided anyway to change the default structure from /?p=# to /%post_id%/%postname%/.  The default structure is pretty ugly and it does next to nothing for your blog. It doesn’t say anything useful about your post, so changing it to the above says that it’s whatever post number (ID) and the post name. I found that referencing a number (post_id) instead of text (postname) first, enhances overall performance (See structure tags).

But if you just change the structure in wordpress without advanced editing, you’ll get an error anytime a specific post is accessed. To correct this, I used the Permalinks Migration Plugin by Dean. Here are a few things to note:

1. Figure out what permalink structure you’re currently using (Settings>Permalinks)
(My structure wasn’t super obvious as WP only gives an example of the structure- not the exact format. If yours is set to Default under Common Settings, then its /?p=# )
2. Install and activate the plugin
3. Go to PermalinksMigration under Settings and paste in your old format. Click Update Options
4. Go to Permalinks under Settings and type in the new format (use /%post_id%/%postname%/ like me & Lifehacker.com or the other common format is /%category%/%postname%/ ) Click Save Changes
5.  You might get a message from wordpress saying something about a .htaccess file. You’ll want to do what it says. For me, I had to see if I even had that file on my server. I didn’t. So I created it using this article and an editor like Smultron (or use Notepad on Windows). I just copy & pasted the code WP gave me, saved it as .htaccess and uploaded it to the root of my ftp. I clicked Save Changes again and there ya go. I got pretty permalinks.