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Safely Change Page or Post URL / Permalink / Slug

When you create a new page, post, prodict or other content type within WordPress, a new web address (often known as a permalink) is created automatically from the content title. (The section of the web address relating specifically to that piece of content, created automatically is called the ‘slug’).

Changing this is very straightforward. Once the content has been published, you can simply edit the slug within the post edit window

The problem with this is that once you have changed the web address, anyone visiting the old address will receive a “404 – page not found” error:

This may not be a problem if noone is visiting that page. But if the page has already been indexed by Google, anyone visiting from the Google listing will no longer get to your original page, they will get a page error instead.

Worse still, if Google checks the page and get the ‘404 – page not found’ error, it may remove the page from it’s index all together and you will have to wait for the page at the new address to be re-indexed and start ranking. This can take a long time!

To prevent these scenarios, simply set up a 301 redirect.

Install and activate the Redirection plugin by John Godley. (There are other plugins that will do the same thing, but this is simple to use).

Navigate to Tools > Redirection and select Add New.

  • Set the Source URL to the original page name (you can leave out the domain name)
  • Set the Target URL to the full URL of the new page
  • Select Add Redirect
  • Now anyone – including Google and other search engines – will be afely redirected to the new web address and won’t receive the ‘404 – page not found’ error

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    About the Author

    Christian Mayne is a full time WordPress developer and consultant based in the UK. He runs a UK based WordPress development agency with clients all over the World. As well as WordPress development, Christian has been teaching WordPress use and development since 2014 in classroom settings and online.