Each search engine optimization (SEO) professional understands how much pressure and time it burns-through to rank on the first page of search engine result. The list of hands-on work increases when more elements are taken into account in the never-ending climb to the front page visibility. Everything can change in an instant with a change to your permalink structure.
There are some SEO elements that are on the priority list to help you rank your page high in the search engine results. Your permalinks are one of the crucial ones. They are directly connected to SEO performance. Any disruption or change with your permalinks can cause an issue in your website. If you are looking to change the permalink structure on your website, you need to have a clear plan on how to change them without impacting your SEO.
How to change your permalink structure
So, let’s dive in to learn from the basics what permalinks are and how you can change them without affecting the SEO of your website.
What are permalinks?
Permalink is defined as the URL or web address that is showcased to the user or the search engine while navigating on your website. These stay permanent even if you intend to change the content on that particular page or website.
For more understanding, one can compare permalink with their address or office or home. The number, street name, city, state, and zip code of your place will remain the same even if whoever comes to live in your house.
The need for permalinks
- Permalink is one of the many factors considered by Google for ranking a website.
- It gives an idea to the Google crawlers to showcase the relevancy of your page address with the content on the same.
- It informs the user about the post or the page without going through the content on the page on a website.
- For each piece of content, permalinks are a unique identifier that keeps everything organized on your website.
- With permalinks, every content gets a permanent location so that the search engines and visitors can come back anytime to read the content.
- Search engines use permalink to search the page topic for the post solely with the URL.
Considering the relevancy of the above points in context with SEO, some technical aspects need utmost consideration while changing permalink for contribution to overall SEO strategy.
The new permalink structure
Before you proceed to make the syntax of your new permalink structure, it is important to lay down a plan or have a backup. Decide on what your new structure will look like and what link will you include in the syntax of the link.
Don’t change your permalink until you are very sure about your choice. Guidelines such as
- Include the name of the post in the permalink.
- Short permalinks are ideal as one can read them easily.
- Publication date must only be included in the permalink if it is relevant to your website.
So, when you decide on it, keep in mind all the important aspects, and head on to the important step of changing it.
Prepare a list of present permalinks
Navigate to settings and then the permalink option to change the syntax for your post name. Click on save changes, and your permalinks are updated.
It may look like a cakewalk, but the tough work starts now onwards. Just think about all the places where you would have used the old permalink to direct a reader to your website. By changing the permalink, you will have to manually change it from all the places. You would need to update several other internal links and redirects manually so that your SEO game works like before.
Internal links fixing process
The fallout caused due to change of a permalink structure needs great attention and manual work. All the links are broken that utilized your old permalink and need to be fixed immediately before they get indexed by the search engine.
The only solution you can stick to during this time is to set up 301 redirects. It will help the search engine know that a permanent change has been made in the permalink structure.
The process will become smoother if you prepare a list of all the links in advance that utilize your old permalink so that you can set up a redirect on them later without any hustle.
If you fail to cover this step effectively, then your website will have to experience the following setbacks.
- Internal links created manually will break since they won’t get updated manually.
- All the traffic from your updated post will be sent to the 404 pages instead of the original post.
- 404 errors will be reported back by Google crawlers when they will index any of your old posts. It will thus decrease the original ranking of the page.
The 301 redirection process will clear out all these hurdles and will maintain the same SEO reputation of your website.
Re-indexing your website
Once you update the permalink structure, the search engines will have incorrect information in which, as a website owner, you are helpless. But this problem will diminish on its own as Google crawlers constantly crawl your sites and will update changes themselves over time.
Although, there is another way instead of waiting for the problem to be solved on its own.
Start by creating an XML sitemap and then proceed to re-indexing your sites manually with search engines. This way, you are inviting the crawlers to index your updated site with a changed permalink structure instead of waiting for them to do it on their own.
The last steps
Permalink structure has significant SEO fallouts. Great permalinks are not difficult to read and transfer valuable data to webpage guests and internet searcher web crawlers. It is best to address components like permalinks before you introduce another website. On the off chance if you still end up in the present circumstance, you need a cautious intend to dodge disturbance to your site (both inside and remotely). Simply make certain to monitor the influenced URLs and set up the appropriate 301 side-tracks. If you don’t, site guests and web crawlers may punish your well-meaning goals by damaging the SEO game of your website.
This guest blog article was written by Rajesh Bhimani who is the founder at Skynet Technologies, a website design and development agency. He has 20 years of experience in the technology and marketing industries. When he isn’t working, you can find him cooking for his family or reading some fiction. You can connect with him on Twitter.