As with any change of web address, there comes trouble with SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). If I change the web address of my site, then any search engine that has listed it will now go to the wrong web address. I spoke about this a couple of posts ago when I moved my blog post from the old blog.andybarratt.co.uk subdomain to be on my main page at www.andybarratt.co.uk. Well now I had another problem, WordPress Permalinks.
I’ve been running this blog since 2007, back then it wasn’t the blog of a computer scientist but just the general rants of a nearly 20 year old (note that the oldest post you’ll find is from early 2008 due to an incident that caused all blogs before then to be reduced to 10 words each). Over time its evolved and I like to think that now, from time to time, I post something that someone spots and finds useful and perhaps even interesting to read.
As such, over the years, Google has been watching my site keenly (not really keenly, I’ve just got the opening paragraphs of a certain H.G. Wells book stuck in my head) and what does google see? It sees lots of posts all with a web address ending like www.andybarratt.co.uk/?p=580. As you might imagine, this isn’t very informative. If someone puts that on a twitter feed or instant message that you read, would you open it? Not having a clue what the link contains?
This is an aspect of wordpress called permalinks and specifically, this /?p=580 style is what wordpress uses by default. Now if I changed this to use the name of my post as the url so you can reach me by using www.andybarratt.co.uk/changing-wordpress-permalinks-and-google and you received this in a message, would you more likely click it? Knowing what the title of the page is before you even went to it? Assuming you’re interesting in the title of course, I suspect you probably would.
But here lies the issue, now google has all these listings made for the old structure but I’ve changed to the new structure. Anyone who’s ever posted a link to my blog on facebook has just had their link made useless. Or they would if I hadn’t installed the Platinum SEO Pack, a plugin that you can install which as its top function will write the 301 page redirects for any permalink changes that you make.
This was all I wanted but Platinum SEO even goes as far as restructuring your title and adding the meta tags needed for your page too along with a whole tonne of other SEO stuff. Don’t be fooled by the name Platinum, it’s entirely free to download. I highly recommend it whether you’re changing your permalinks or not.
It’s times like these that I should probably write a conclusion…