Lots of site task focus on Search Engine Optimization (SEO), as it can increase your visibility and search ranking. Part of your SEO strategy should be based on your URL structures, although if your permalinks are not working in WordPress, you’ll struggle to dent your traffic figures.
It’s straightforward to know when you have a broken permalink, but what’s not so easy to understand is how to fix it. Most of the time, you’ll have to jump into your server configuration files and make some changes. Though, a quick reset from within WordPress could be all you need.
Over the next few sections, we’ll show you what to do when your permalinks are not working in WordPress. First off, we’re going to talk more about broken permalinks and what they look like.
What a Broken Permalink Looks Like in WordPress
Regardless of the server you use or its setup, broken permalinks all look the same. In most cases, you’ll see that your home page is perfect, while other pages show a 404 error:
For some specific instances – i.e. legitimate URLs that otherwise don’t exist within the site – you could redirect 404 errors to your home page. Though, it’s not a permanent solution in many cases, as you’ll often have an underlying problem that lies undetected.
What’s more, if your permalinks are not working within WordPress, you’ll have no idea unless you browse your site. It could be that your first inkling of a problem is when users send you a notification. This isn’t good for User Experience (UX), nor your reputation.
Why Your Permalinks Are Not Working in WordPress
Slugs and permalinks in WordPress are more of a ‘set-and-forget’ aspect of your site. While you could edit slugs on a post-by-post basis, you set global permalink structures after the initial WordPress install process. The recommended typical practice is to leave them be after this, because it can affect your SEO.
As such, broken permalinks in WordPress are tougher to fix, because you won’t have had direct involvement in breaking them. Instead, there are a few other avenues to explore:
- If you install a new plugin, or change the settings of the old one, you could make an indirect change to your permalinks. This is especially true for those plugin that hook into your server configuration files.
- While it’s a small chance, some core, theme, and plugin updates will break your permalinks. This is one of the reasons why you’ll want to have a clean and current backup in place (more of which later).
- Speaking of which, if you have to use your backup to restore your site, this can also break your permalink structures. This also applies for migrating your site too.
Though, there is one cause for your permalinks not working in WordPress that is more common: A manual edit to your server configuration files. If you decide to tinker with these files, this does the same damage as a conflicting plugin would.
This article was written by Tom Rankin and originally published on WPKube.