Changing the permalink and category structure for your WordPress blog is not a difficult process at all, due to the existence of some very resourceful plugins that will help you to do a lot of the dirty work.
Everything can be done through your Dashboard or Feed reader and you won’t even have to check your logs or access your .htaccess file at all.
Here are the four main plugins that I recommend using:
- Permalinks Migration Plugin. This nifty plugin allows you to change your permalink structure without breaking the old links to your website and allows you to maintain your search ranks as well. What this does is that it generates a 301 redirect whenever anyone assesses your site through the old permalinks, thereby sending them to the new permalink structure. This is very easy to implement and will only take a few minutes to set up.
- Batch Categories. This plugin should be used when you need to remove old categories and transfer many posts to the new categories you’ve set up. It allows you to assign or delete multiple posts to or from a category at one shot.
You won’t be needing this plugin if you’re not originally using the category id in the permalink structure, although you can still use it to create new categories for your posts.
- Objection Redirection. This very cool plugin allows you to 301 redirect users and search engine bots from 404 error pages that result from old permalinks to existing webpages with the new permalinks. This is extremely easy to use and has saved me a lot of time because I didn’t have to manually enter the redirects within the .htaccess file. A real lifesaver if you are changing permalinks and need to fix those 404s.
- 404 Notifier. This plugin logs 404 error pages whenever they are accessed by a bot or a user and informs you via RSS or email. You can then do a redirect on the error page to the correct webpage using the Objection Redirection plugin above. What I do is that I’ll subscribe to my 404 notifications via RSS and then log into the Dashboard to redirect the old webpages.