Recently, I worked on a content-heavy site built on WordPress where it was decided to change the URL structure. It is obvious that once you change the URL structure in WordPress, old URLs will throw 404 error and eventually the site will lose traffic. URL structure in WordPress can be changed through the option “Permalinks” in “Settings.” They decided to strip out the “Category” and “Year” slugs from the URL.
I have tried various plugins to redirect the old URLs to new with a 301 redirect, but in vain. They were not working. I don’t know if it was the problem with server or the plugins. After a rigorous search in Google and WordPress Plugins repository, I was able to find this simple, almost settings-free plugin, which solved the problem, called “Permalink Finder.” What it does is when a Permalink is not found, it will search the database to find if a post is there with similar words before throwing a 404 error.
To control the traffic loss and effectively 301 the old URLs, I submitted the XML sitemap (generated using the “XML Sitemaps” option in “All-in-One SEO” plugin) with changed Permalinks to the Google Webmaster Tools, which helped me to populate the newly structured URLs in Google Search within few hours. I installed the above plugin to redirect all the old URLs to the new URLs.
The site was running smooth, was redirecting old URLs to the new, and didn’t see any decrease in traffic stats.