I love WordPress. Whenever you run into an issue, most likely someone else has run into it first and solved it for you. The power of crowdsourcing at its best.
Case in point. I was working on a client’s wordpress site. It was an old half configured blog that needed some TLC. Since there wasn’t going to be a lot of pages, I changed the permalink structure to a custom one so I could put keywords into the URLs. I checked whether the site had any backlinks (it didn’t) so I figured I could change the URL structure to it .. no problem. After all, I had set up a sitemap generation plugin so the search engines would be informed of the new URLs, what could go wrong?
Weeks later, I’m noticing that both Bing and Google STILL had the old URLs indexed. Google had indexed all the new ones, but had several of the old ones. And Bing, it hadn’t even found most of the new ones.
The above excerpt is from typing in
site:yourholidayfeast.com into Bing. You can do this with Google as well. This command is a way to see what pages of your site the Search Engines have indexed. It’s a very handy little command.
So obviously these old pages were around to stay for a while. And since these old URLs would get a 404 error, this was not good, a bad experience for the user that might get a bogus result from Google or Bing, and bad for making my client’s site nice and tidy and crawlable for the Search Engines. I needed a way to 301 Redirect these old URLs to the new keyword rich custom permalink URLs.
A 301 Redirect is a way to return a HTTP status code to the requester (whether it be Google or your browser) saying that the URL has permanently changed to a new one. Everyone gets to the new page, any link juice gets passed along and everyone is happy. So I went to “Add New” in the Plugin menu in WordPress and typed in “301 Redirect” in the search … and to my happy surprise I had tons of plugins to choose from.
I picked one called “SS Old URLs” that looked straightforward and close to what I wanted. When I installed it, it wasn’t too clear about how to configure the redirects, but it turns out that (good thing there was a readme) it had added a new menu item in the Settings menu called “Old URLs”. Then it got easy. Using the site: results listing in Bing (and Google) I just typed in the old URL (minus the domain name) and then found the new equivalent and typed that in. Here is what it looks like after I typed in a few:
Note the nice to have of adding the redirects to your. htaccess file. This involves downloading this file and editing it and uploading (unless you have shell access to your hosting server). Still not too much work so that’s my next step.
Oh, and the client site? It’s a site that helps you plan your holiday events and holiday party meals. If you are one of those hostess types, check it out.
Kathy Alice Brown is a SEO expert specializing in Technical SEO and Content. In her spare time she loves to get outside.