Seamless Permalink Updating

Update: The solu­tion to the prob­lem in this post has been found and post­ed.

I wish I would have set up the perma­link struc­ture here prop­er­ly months ago when I start­ed blog­ging. Now I want to change it, but if I am not care­ful in doing so, I’m effec­tive­ly los­ing any exter­nal links to my posts, par­tic­u­lar­ly those the search engines have linked to.

What I mean is, I want to go from this:

to this:

with­out mak­ing the first link ineffective.

I know this can be accom­plished via mod_rewrite, but I’m by no means savvy enough to fig­ure it out. I’ve exper­i­ment­ed, I’ve read all about reg­u­lar expres­sions, but I have as of yet been unsuc­cess­ful at wrap­ping my mind around the con­cepts involved.

I do know that I need to rewrite /number/number/number/text-numbers-hyphens/ to sim­ply /text-numbers-hyphens/.

Seems sim­ple enough, but for all its won­der, mod_rewrite is strange voodoo.

Any­one read­ing this skilled enough to lend me a hand? I asked on the Word­Press sup­port board, but I did so not­ing that sev­er­al oth­er users with sim­i­lar ques­tions haven’t received any real help in ten or more months. Need­less to say, I’m not hold­ing my breath either.

11 thoughts on “Seamless Permalink Updating”

  1. I’m prob­a­bly at the same point as you as far as under­stand­ing mod_rewrite. I played with it a cou­ple years ago and end­ed up mess­ing up all my links and my pho­to gallery (should have done a test site like you…lesson learned). I’ll let you know if I run across any­thing that can help you out. It’s strange voodoo indeed…

    Curious…why the change? Speed up the site?

  2. Actu­al­ly, the change will have a twofold effect:

    1) The URLs will be more attrac­tive to human users — is a lot nicer than Just seems clean­er, per­haps more pro­fes­sion­al. Though admit­ted­ly, that’s quite subjective!

    2) The date of the post adds noth­ing of val­ue for search engines; remov­ing it will increase the pow­er of what­ev­er is left in the URL, con­cen­trat­ing the pow­er of the key­words present, so to speak. I’m a suck­er for SEO tips like that, I suppose. :)

  3. I recent­ly con­tem­plat­ed doing the same thing, but vot­ed against it pri­mar­i­ly because I felt the has­sle just was­n’t worth the pay­off, which, unfor­tu­nate­ly, is prob­a­bly not much. Nonethe­less, I am going to look into a “clean” way of doing this via htac­cess as soon as pos­si­ble. If/when I am able to cob­ble some­thing togeth­er, you will be the first (- er, sec­ond) to know. ;)

  4. As I stat­ed over at your place, I will be great­ly appre­cia­tive! It’d be nice to have a real solu­tion to this prob­lem, whether the pay­off is sub­stan­tial or not. :D

  5. not sure what ver­sion (think it was 2.3) my mate had run­ning on his site and he had sim­i­lar permlinks.

    I was snoop­ing at his back­end and found that you could add a cus­tom setting.

    I set it up as /%category/%title and it end­ed by hav­ing url’s as follows:



    A few kinks as you can see by the sec­ond url but i hope to iron these out and will exper­i­ment lat­er with htac­cess but my knowl­edge is lim­it­ed but i will let you know if i find the grail.

  6. Donace — Chang­ing the perma­links the sys­tem cre­ates is quite easy, yup. The prob­lem I have is that as soon as I change my perma­link struc­ture, any links which ref­er­ence the old style — includ­ing those with­in search engine index­es — will be inval­i­dat­ed. I’m look­ing / hop­ing for a way to seam­less­ly redi­rect any requests for old style perma­links to the new style, which I hope to imple­ment soon.

  7. Looks like you beat me to the punch! Your perma­links look much clean­er now, I must admit.. How has the htac­cess code been work­ing? Any issues? Have you exam­ined your 404 error log since the change? I may just have to rethink my perma­link strat­e­gy (again) after all..

  8. Jeff_ — Actu­al­ly, I nev­er checked Apache’s error log until I imple­ment­ed this change; I’ve been check­ing it pret­ty much dai­ly since doing so!

    And so far, every­thing has been work­ing great. What is a mys­tery to me is how the perma­link to the post » King­dom Front works; the perma­link to it con­tains two per­cent­age signs, which would­n’t be caught by the regex I’m using. Yet the perma­link seems to work just fine, so I’m not get­ting worked up about it by any means.

  9. hey rick, there is a small prob­lem i am fac­ing here…
    I use google web­mas­ter… and it still shows me indexed sites from the time when i was just set­ting up my blog, (i mean i was exper­i­ment­ing from Joom­la, word­press, etc) lat­er, i used word­press with no perma­link updates.. now google web­mas­ter shows me links from the Joom­la time, as well as Word­Press’s non-seo perma­links… how to delete the Joom­la links and how to update those word­press links to the cur­rent ones…
    Please help me…

    Lat­est from Nikhil Gup­ta: 1000 Megau­ploads Links’ List!

  10. Nikhil Gup­ta: Remov­ing con­tent from Google can be done in a vari­ety of ways, but all of them will take place at Google’s own pace as its crawler dis­cov­ers that the con­tent is miss­ing or forbidden:

    As far as get­ting your new con­tent indexed, if Google’s crawler can crawl your site using the new address struc­ture, those address­es will be indexed.

    The address­es your site used pri­or to the perma­link set­tings were like this, correct?:

    If that’s the case, try vis­it­ing that old address; it redi­rects to the new struc­ture just fine, so Google should see that when it tries brows­ing your old­er style address­es and it will update accordingly.

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Rick Beckman