Here is a quick tip to WordPress users and web  masters in general about a practice that could be detrimental to your search engine ranking. (Warning WordPress jargon is used in this post)

One of the main advantages of WordPress is the ability to quickly publish a new web page or blog post and to edit the content of a web page after it’s been published. Now with WordPress it’s very easy to change your webpage URL as well after you’ve already published a page.

Beware, this is a change you must not do. Do not change your web page URL after it’s been published and the page has already been indexed by Google (i.e. found by and listed in Google). Google doesn’t like that.

The reason is: when you change your URL (slug), Google thinks there is a broken page (former URL), and a duplicate page on your site (new url): it may penalise both URLs (pages), and your page severely drops in ranking on Google: well at least for a while until Google decides drop the old page from its index.

So choose your URL very carefully before you publish a new page and never change it from then on.

However, if you do need to change a page URL, make sure the old page URL has a 301 redirect to the new page to avoid the above mentioned problem with Google. A 301 redirection means, you are telling Google that the old page has been permanently moved to a new location. So with a 301 redirection Google will drop the old URL in its list and index the new one.

A WordPress plugin that can help you not get penalised by Google is the WordPress Redirection plugin. This plugin will allow you to specify where the old URL has moved to.

Now if you change the permalink structure of your website: this literally means you’ve change the URL for your whole website, with the exception of your home page. Again to avoid the above penalty and avoid using Redirection plugin for your whole site, use the WordPress Advance Permalinks plugin for your website.

That’s it see you soon.

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