The cool thing about WordPress is that it lets you easily change, update, and generally tinker with various parts of your website without having to get a techie involved.
The terrible thing about WordPress is that it lets you easily change, update, and generally tinker with various parts of your website without having to get a techie involved.
Here are two mistakes commonly made by just “regular folks” while “improving” their WordPress websites:
Changing page/post permalinks
After you’ve been blogging or creating page content for a while, you might learn a few things – like how a well-thought out permalink for your pages can help a bit with SEO.
So you go back into your old pages and blog posts, and start editing permalinks, adding keywords to the default titles WordPress assigned when you created them.
What happens when you edit a post with the permalink mydomain.com/5-tips-for-spring-pruning and change it to mydomain.com/5-tips-for-spring-rose-pruning?
If your website is set up correctly, Google will have indexed your original post within a few days (or even hours) of its publication, at the original location. Then let’s say you change it.
Google won’t necessarily know you’ve changed it, and someone might search “spring pruning tips” and find your great article. With the outdated link.
Which means, when they click the link, they get a dreaded “404 not found” error. Even worse, if your post has been linked to by other gardening blogs, you may not even KNOW how many outdated links are out there.
Repeated 404 errors can hurt your Google rankings, plus potential readers never make it to your site in the first place.
Never change a permalink without redirecting the old link to the new one.
If you want to implement your knowledge to make better permalinks, stick with using that on NEW content – not previously indexed content.
Deleting a page without setting up a 301 redirect to somewhere else
As you mature in your online presence, you may look back at some of the old stuff you wrote and cringe, and want to reach for the delete button.
ANOTHER BAD IDEA!
For the same reasons outlined above, deleting a page or post can result in more 404 errors.
Never do this without setting up a permanent (301) redirect from the old link to, at least, your home page, or to somewhere else that better answers the question.
If the subject is still relevant and it’s your answers that are out of date – add an update to the old post and leave it up. People appreciate that and it lets them know you’re keeping your eye on the ball.