Migrate Your Current WordPress Site With SEO-Efficient URLs

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    Are you interested in making your website more SEO efficient?

    Then we have just the blog for you!

    Find out how you are able to migrate your website towards URLs work better alongside SEO by checking out the step-by-step instructions outlined in this blog!

     

    Top Tips 

    1. You can only follow this blog successfully if your website is a WordPress site. 
    2. You will already need to have Google Search Console up and running.

     

    Benefits 

    1. By the end of this blogpost, you will have a URL structure which is SEO efficient, meaning it’s easier for Google to index your website.
    2. This can also help to make it simpler for Google to rank your website. 

     

    Understand URL Structure Recommendations 

    There are 2 variations of URL structure which will offer better results:

      1. /%postname%/ 
      2. /%category%/%postname%

    The 2nd option is something you will use if you’re taking into consideration some/all of these factors:

        • UX & Strategy For Content

    If you have implemented a strategy for your content where different categories have a key role, then you may benefit from using this URL structure. This is because it will make it simpler for users to find a specific area of your website if it is structured based on a range of categories. 

        • Track Process 

    If you input a category prior to the name of your post, it will make some platforms simpler for you to be able to track.

     

    URL Structure Check 

    If you need to find out how you are able to check the current structure of your URLs, you will need to:

    1. Make sure you are on the Admin Panel of WordPress, and then select these:
      • “Settings”
      • “Permalinks”
    2. Take the time to look to see if the following options have been ticked:
      • “Custom Structure”/”Post Name” (those which have the following details: “/%category%/%postname%”)
      • If they are, then there is no need for you to continue working through this blog, you’re all sorted! 
      • If the website you are working on does not have a structure like those mentioned prior, then you will need to go onto the next part of this blog.

     

    Decision – Do I Migrate The URL Structure?

    Before you begin the process of migrating, you will first need to take the time to conduct an analysis of your specific circumstances and decide whether action is needed. If you’re wondering whether this is right for you, the list we’ve compiled might be of some use, it will outline whether you need to follow through with this process and migrate your site to ensure it has a URL structure that is SEO-efficient.

    1. Google has not already gone through and indexed a lot of your website’s pages. To check this, you will need to follow these steps:
      • Start on Google 
      • Input your URL details, in this fashion: “site:mywebsite.com”
      • Now you’re going to see how many results show – this will display to you the amount of pages which have already been indexed by this point.
    2. If your website doesn’t get a lot of organic website traffic, then this shouldn’t be a major concern at this point, just continue with the mitigation process. 
    3. Now you will need to take notice of the URL structure – this posts IDs and will not include any of the key phrases you are intending to focus on. 
    4. Your website does not have a lot of external links
      • If you’re interested in checking this, then follow the steps we have outlined below:
        • Using SEMrush, you will need to input the URL of your website, making sure to select the “Start Now” button  
        • It’s important to keep in mind that you will need to be logged in to SEMrush to do this, if you don’t have an account, then you will need to register for 10 searches which will be free.
        • You’re going to need to select “Backlinks” – that way you will be able to see all of the external links that are connected to your domain. 
      • If you wish to do so, you could also take a look through Google Search Console so that you are able to find some more links that SEMrush might not have picked up on. To do this, follow the procedure we have outlined here:
        • Start on Google Search Console – making sure to click on the relevant website. 
        • Select these in the following order:
          • “Search Traffic” 
          • “Links To Your Site”
        • You will then be able to see the amount of external links that are linked up to your website’s domain (it will be visible to you at the top of the page).

     

    Current URLs List Extraction

    There are 2 key ways that you should take into account when trying to remove a list of URLs.

    1. If you already have a sitemap in place for your website and you’d rather not install another plugin on your WordPress panel, then then you’re fine to use the sitemap for this stage of the blog. 
    2. Don’t have a sitemap? Then you will need to use this plugin: “Export All URLs” on WordPress so that you are able to export them. 
      • Start by making sure that you have the “Export All URLs” plugin set up and running on your website. 
        • To be able to successfully start exporting links you need to make sure the plugin ZIP folder has been downloaded.
        • Begin on your “WordPress Admin Panel”, and select:
          1. “Plugins”
          2. “Add New”
          3. “Upload Plugin”
        • Make sure that you have uploaded the computer plugin and selected “Install Now” and then “Activate”
      • Go to the WordPress settings, making sure to select Export All URLs.
      • Ensure that the following options have been ticked:
        1. “All Types”
        2. “URLs” 
        3. “CSV” 
      • Make sure to click “Export” and then “Download Now” 
      • The csv.file needs to be downloaded
      • You will need to give it another name – make sure it’s something you can recognise in the future.

     

    WordPress Permalink Settings Alterations

    There are some events where altering the website’s permalinks can cause some issues. The reason for this is because it could result in some plugins not working well together, the redirects you have set up previously, or any customised additions you have put into place. This is also why it is key to have backed up your website just in case some problems arise. 

      1. Make sure that you have started on the admin panel for WordPress, making sure to select the Permalinks option. 
      2. You’re going to need to go through this process, based on the structure of the URL that you are intending to implement:
    • Standard

    Traditionally, the URL structure will be “Post Name”, so if you’re happy to use it, please do so.

    • Customised 

    If you need something which is more tailored to your unique requirements, then go with this. To use this structure for the URL, make sure that “Custom Structure” has been ticked and that in the text box, you have inputted “/%category%.%postname%/.

     

    URL Testing, 301 Redirect Checks & 404 Errors Checks

    There are 2 options you can use for URL testing, 301 redirect checks and 404 error searches, and these are the manual strategy (which is quicker), or by using a tool that goes through and checks the status codes for your HTTP (which is more accurate).

     

    As there are 2 paths you can take, we’re going to split this section of the blog into 2. So if you have 10 or more pages on your site, then read section A of this blog, whereas if you have less than 10 web pages, then you’ll need to go through Section B. 

     

    Section A 

    In the event that you have 10+ pages on your website, then you will need to go through your 301 redirects with the help of an automation tool. 

    1. You need to open up the URLs list.
      • In the event that you have the list formatted in the .xml, you will need to make sure that it has been changed to the formatting of an Excel spreadsheet.
      • You need to use this tool to download the relevant zip file, and then extract the spreadsheet file.  
        1. Start on a new Google sheet.
        2. Upload the relevant Excel file 
        3. Make sure that all of the URLs have been selected – ensuring they have been copied over to your clipboard. 
      • If the spreadsheet had been downloaded using this plugin: “Export All URLs”, then you’ll need to:
        • Start on a new Google sheet.
        • Upload the relevant file for CSV  
        • Make sure that all of the URLs have been selected – ensuring they have been copied over to your clipboard. 
    2. Starting on this website, you need to make sure you have inputted the list, and clicked Googlebot and selected “Submit”.
      • If you are unable to see the website’s search bar then you will need to try and open it using “Incognito Mode”. 
    3. You will need to look at the following tabs “Table View” and “Redirect Summary” so that the numbers are logical to make sure that you are not incorrectly redirecting the links and the 404 errors.
      • You will also notice that you can “Download to CSV” if you would like to take a closer look at spreadsheets or compare and contrast. 

     

    Section B

    So, as you have less than 10 pages on your website, you’re going to need to open up the URL Listing you’ve gotten through the extraction process earlier on in this blog.

     

    Rapid Check-Up

    • Go through your URLs by inputting them into the URL bar – you will need to do this to see if you get a 404 error message or are redirected to another page. 
    • If your URL had been indexed, then you will need to complete a quick search on it and select the result – when you click on it, a 404 error should not pop up. 

     

    Higher Accuracy

    This is the procedure we’d recommend that you follow. You can do this by using the checking code for the status code for HTTP. 

      • Start on this website
      • Go through all of the individuals URLs and individually input them into the search bar.
      • You’re going to need to look at the right section of the screen so you can see the section labelled “response”. 
        • 200 

    If this message pops up, then you need to have a look at the URL and make sure you’ve inputted the old URL not the new one.  

        • 404 (Page Couldn’t Be Found)

    This means that your redirects have not been correctly set up, or the incorrect URL has been inputted.

        • 301 (Permanently Moved)

    This is what you need to look for – it’s the result you want.

     

    404 Errors Resolution – Setting Up Redirects (301)

    The permalink tool on WordPress should take care of going through your website to redirect outdated URLs. There is the possibility that this won’t happen as there can be issues, so this will mean that you are going to need to redirect the outdated URLs..

     

    Robots.txt File Test & Update 

    In the event that you had disallowed search engines from crawling the prior structure of your site, then you will need to ensure your robots.txt file has been updated. This is important to do so that the search engines are aware that they shouldn’t index a particular path or outlined page. 

    1. You’re going to need to have a look at the robots.txt file you have on your website currently. 
    2. If you find that the rules you have outlined in the robots.txt file is not relative to the mitigation for the outdated URL structure, then it’s key for you to update the file for the robots.txt.

     

    Sitemap – Checks & Updates 

    It’s key to keep in mind that by changing the structure of the URL, you might end up with an outdated sitemap. 

    If you are interested in viewing the sitemap that you currently have in place, make sure to add “/sitemap.xml” to the end of your domain name.

    If you are unable to find your sitemap using the method mentioned above, then you will need to check if your the file for your robots.txt shows an outline of your sitemap, to check this, add “/robots.txt” to the end of your domain. 

    In the event that your sitemap is no longer relevant – so it has data relating to outdated URLs, then you might have to create a new sitemap. 

    If the Yoast plugin is in use, then a new sitemap should be automatically created – in the event that it is not, then you will need to check that there isn’t a cache plugin (if you do have one, it might need refreshing).

     

    Tracking With Google Search Console 

    After you have gone through the analysis process for the URLs, you will need to keep an eye out for errors and you can use your Google Search Console in order to do this. 

    1. You can use this tool to set up a report for crawl errors.
    2. Make sure that you click on the relevant website.
    3. Check for any errors and if there are any, make sure to resolve them. 
      • You will need to check on a regular basis (i.e. daily) as sometimes it can take several days for errors to appear on this tool.

     

    Thanks for reading! 

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