If you are concerned about the search engine optimization (SEO) of your site then permalink structure (permanent static hyperlink) of your posts is the right place to start with. If you have freshly installed WordPress on your site then you would notice that the default permalinks structure is something link http://techxt.com/?p=123 which is not SEO friendly.
Changing Permalink structure of freshly installed WordPress site
For freshly installed WordPress sites changing permalink structure would not affect the traffic of the site assuming it’s an absolutely new site. To change the permalink structure login to your WordPress dashboard and go to Settings > Permalinks. There are predefined structures that you can choose from. I would recommend that you choose from Day and name, Month and name or Post name.
Which structure to choose for your blog / site?
Just to begin with all the above mentioned permalink structures are good and can be used on any type of blog or site. Still based on the nature of your blog you can choose between one of these three. If you are running a product review blog or a company website or a personal website then Post name permalink structure is best suited. Also if you are running a blog with not too many daily blog posts, even then you can have the Post name structure. This is my personal recommendation because it is easier to remember.
If you are running a blog such as How to blogs or a news site then definitely you should choose between Day and name or Month and name structure. All major tech blogs such as Mashable.com, Techcrunch.com, ReadWrite.com etc. all uses the Day and name structure.
Changing Permalink Structure of an old site
Before you change the permalink structure you must know that by simply changing the structure will not redirect all you old posts URL to the new posts URL. Instead it will start showing 404 page not found error and you will loose all your traffic. Also beware that Pagerank and Social share counts such as Facebook like and share count are linked to the URL of the post so you will loose them too. But pagerank will get transferred to the new post URL overtime if the old URL is redirected properly to the new URL.
Changing the Permalink is easy just follow the steps mentioned above for changing permalink structure of a freshly installed site. If you were using the default structure i.e. the plain structure then you do not need to do anything else. All old post links will automatically get redirected to the new post links. If you were using a structure other then the plain structure then all old urls will start showing page not found error. To fix this I will recommend you to use three WordPress plugins which are–
- Permalink Finder – All the heavy load of redirecting old post urls to the new ones will be taken care of this plugin automatically. All you need is install and activate this plugin and you are good to go. Most of your posts if not all will be redirected to the correct new url.
- Broken link checker – This plugin will monitor any broken links and will report it back to you via email. This will help you to track down all your broken links and the links that are not taken care of the permalink finder plugin.
- Redirection – For all the broken link you need to setup proper redirection manually. This is where this plugin comes in handy. With this plugin you will be able to setup redirection for all those post that are not getting redirected to the new urls.
An insight on how URL structure affect PageRank?
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