Changing WordPress Permalinks


I discovered a very interesting thing happens when you change the permalink structure of an existing WordPress blog.  It actually makes perfect sense but is something I did not think of ahead of time.  This post just alerts anyone considering a change so you are aware of one possible adverse consequence.  WordPress permalinks can have quite an impact on your site’s search engine rankings.  It quickly gets quite complicated explaining why and is beyond the scope of this post, but if you want a good historical summary of the subject, I recommend this post on permalinks at Otto on WordPress.  You can also read the recent post I wrote on the WordPress numbering system.

Changing the permalink structure on an existing WordPress site used to require editing your htaccess file or using a permalink redirection plugin.  The latest versions of WordPress do seem to handle permalink changes with no trouble so you can get away without a plugin or code changes.  Recently I changed mine on this site to make the url that appears in a reader’s browser window more sensible.  If you look above you will see my permalink structure no longer contains the category, or the post id number.  It just is the site url followed by the post or page title.  Simple and concise, but a problem was created with this change that I guess really has no solution.

Some of the posts here have been shared on Digg, StumbleUpon, Facebook, etc. many times.  I have one post that has well over 100 Diggs.  The thing is that all the posts that were shared before I changed the permalink structure were shared using a different url than they currently display.  The shares are still on the services like Digg and StumbleUpon, they just have the old url.  When people click over from those sites, they are seamlessly routed to the correct post at the current url so all seems well.

What happens on the post itself however is that the shared number is displayed incorrectly.  As an example, say someone came across one of my post on Digg that showed it had been shared 120 times.  When they click through to read the post, the Digg button on the post will only show shares since I changed the permalinks.  So a post that showed 120 diggs on the Digg site, may only show 3 or 4 diggs here at this site.  Not too big a deal, but for those of us that treasured the big numbers of shares some posts have, it is a bit of an ego deflater!   Maybe that is not so bad a thing, but I still wish there was a way to update all the links on the sharing services to reflect my new permalink structure.

It's only fair to share...Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn
Will Sig
1 Binky

Well thankfully the old URL still works which would not be good if it didn’t. I guess there’s no plugin that addresses this problem?
Binky recently posted..Dust Bunny DelightMy Profile


2 Tony McGurk

Ummm…. You just got too technical for this old dog Will…
Tony McGurk recently posted..Puppy LoveMy Profile


3 Felicia

I still think that those numbers will still go up eventually. What matters is that the links are working and are directing the readers properly so that they can read your posts.


4 Julie

Thanks for sharing this useful and inspiring article, I had been searching for a guide to change permalinks on the wordpress platform for a while, when I found your blog. Thanks for the useful information!


5 Gus

I agree with you, I hope that there will be be a way to fix that discrepancy on Digg.


6 Robbie

Wow…Never thought changing permalinks will cause these problems. So I think I’d better do not change the permalinks structure if not very necessary. Thanks for the detail introduction.


Thank you for your comments

CommentLuv badge
My full comment policy is linked here, but please do not use a keyword as your name. For great referrrals and backlinks, link to your site in the box and by using CommentLuv

Previous post:

Next post: