WordPress: How to change your permalink structure without ranking losses

There may be good reasons for changing the permalink structure of your website. Maybe your blog setup did make the wrong choice, or you might want to change it for performance reasons. You have not dare so far because you fear ranking losses? Today, we’ll show you how to change your permalink structure without fear of losing Google’s visibility. Setting up the permalinks is one of the first things you can do with a new installation of WordPress and other content management systems. Some website owners may be considering this process from the start, while others may not know what an optimal structure might look like.

The change to a new permalink structure

In addition, much has changed in recent times. Google places less and less emphasis on talking URLs, but weights very short URLs more heavily in the ranking. Of course, it may also be that Google itself is going to

everywhere only short IDs to use

instead of using the long, talking URLs. However, a haphazard change in structure can also cause some very real problems. Internal links no longer work, the search engine removes the pages with broken URLs from the index and does not weight the new structures as high as it did before. Nevertheless, with some circumspection a change of the links without Rankingverluste is possible.

# 1 / Generate a list of the old permalinks

Before switching to a new permalink structure, you first have to create a list with the old links of the posts. Later, we’ll set up redirects, so we’ll need this list to make sure we do not forget a URL. An optimal and fast way promises us that

Plugin List URLs

which creates a CSV file with all URLs.


After installing and activating the plugin, generating a post URL list is just a mouse click away.

# 2 / Unlock your new permalinks

Here you have different options to choose from. We recommend several variants, whereby I definitely tend to the shortest variant with the pure IDs of the articles. Since Google also uses this variant, it can be assumed that in the future ranking advantages for websites will result with this shortest of all URLs.

Variant 1: Entry name with IDs

permalink structure-one

The problem with this version is that the URLs get very long if the titles of the posts are long. You always have to intervene manually to remove stop words and the like and ultimately have only three to four words in the URL.

Variant 2: The pure IDs

permalink structure-two

Google already uses this variation for several of its services, such as YouTube. The IDs have another advantage. They load a bit faster and should therefore be part of a good speed optimization. If you would like to revise your contributions and keep them constantly up to date, then I recommend you under no circumstances to include a date in the URL. Too fast then your posts look outdated.

Choose your preferred variant

and click on “Apply changes”.

# 3 / Define the 301 redirects

So that you do not incur any ranking losses, now 301er redirects of the old URLs must be made on the new variants. This will tell Google that the posts in question have moved to the new addresses forever. If you want to save yourself this step, that would be a bad idea, because the following would happen:

  1. Any internal links that were created manually would no longer be updated and lead to nirvana.
  2. All external links leading to the posts would only cause 404 errors. Your visitors will then see an error page instead of the information they are looking for.
  3. The next time you visit a search engine on your pages a lot of 404 errors would be detected. The pages then fall out of the rankings. Your website is virtually non-existent.

Therefore, we have now reached the most important action, the redirection of the old permalinks to the new addresses.

There are two ways to redirect:

Possibility number 1

is the use of a WordPress plugin. A constantly maintained and functioning is



redirection plugin

You do not need to know how to work with this plugin


File. You can do it right in WordPress with an easy-to-capture interface.

Possibility number 2is the manual creation of the rules

for the server control file


, That too is certainly not a bad choice. It works like this:

# ------------------------------------------------- --------------------- # Redirects # -------------------------- -------------------------------------------- RewriteEngine On Redirect 301 / the -is-a-long-url / http://www.deineomain.de/348/

The pattern is pretty simple. The

first part

shows the old url without your domain, the

second part

the new URL including your domain. Under this scheme, you go for all posts. Paste the code above the WordPress rules into the file. I recommend you to redirects using the


To realize file. That puts you on the safe side.

Test your redirects

You have to be sure that the redirects really work and redirect to the new URL. Therefore, enter some of the old addresses from your list and check if they redirect correctly. Also visit Google and search for your website and some of the listed items. Click on it and see if the redirection is done correctly.

# 4 / Correct internal links (optional)

This step is not necessary because the 301 redirects are of course also effective here. So, when a visitor clicks on the “wrong, old” links within your articles, he’ll definitely be directed to the right posts. However, depending on traffic and web hosting, this can take half a second. An (additional) half second is an unacceptable waiting time today. Google and your visitors love fast websites, so you should make a correction of the internal links to the new variant. A quick and easy way to get the job done is with the plugin

Search & Replace



With the help of the plugin you can identify each instance of old permalinks and update them directly in the database of your WordPress. Thus, the links are then no longer addressed via the redirects, but by the correct and fast new links.


Of course, changing the permalink structure can have a significant impact on your site’s ranking. However, if you approach it wisely and plan, then a ranking loss is to be avoided.

Further information on the topic can be found here:

  • Dr. Web: Create SEO friendly redirects with 301 redirects
  • Dr. Web: .htaccess Tester checks Rewrite rules for correctness

(Post picture of
Mudassar Iqbal