Allow URL alias / permalink management

  1. Andrew Miguelez


    Old aliases / permalinks are kept and redirected to the current permalink, which is wonderful. For retention of search engine links and other referrals, this is crucial when users change the permalink field. However, there is a huge part missing.

    What happens when someone changes their site architecture? What about when someone switches to WordPress and needs old URLs to point to the correct pages in the fancy new WP URL structure? This needs to be addressed in a big way.

    Not only should 'backed up' aliases / permalinks be shown and modifiable on the edit page, but there should be a settings page for viewing all or performing bulk actions on permalinks. This has probably been avoided because it's dangerous to give that much power to users. However, if only the 'backed up' aliases are shown in this settings page, then the current site permalinks would be safe at least.

    The most important feature of this settings page, in my opinion, is the ability to quickly add aliases and assign them to pages/posts in the current site. This way redirection for all the 'old' URLs can be quickly set up when making major changes, like moving to WP and updating URL structure.

    I forgot to mention .htaccess. Thanks to Mika for reminding me in the comments.

    WordPress is all about being simple to use and as powerful as possible, right out of the box. Requiring this functionality be handled by modifying the .htaccess or by other means through server settings is cruel. This is a big enough issue for many people who are moving their site over to WP for it to be included as a core feature and not a hole to be filled by plugins (at least not in its most basic state).

    Posted: 5 years ago #
  2. Well... You shouldn't, for one :)

    For another, there are plugins that do this, and you can use .htaccess redirects if not.

    Posted: 5 years ago #
  3. Andrew Miguelez


    @Mika - I get where you're coming from, and I agree. Whenever possible, you should avoid modifying your URL structure and more specifically, your permalinks. SEO 101.

    However, that's not the whole picture, is it? That's just the ideal world scenario. I have dealt with numerous website framework changes, or just an old site moving to a new design/structure/content/CMS. Time and again, this issue comes up. How do we make sure not to lose search traffic, search rankings, site referrals, and users/customers bookmarks, now that we've determined to modify our content and/or content structure?

    Plugins that address this? A few. Plugins that address this well? My opinion is just that, but I haven't found one yet. Even if they worked and did just what has been proposed here, shouldn't this be core functionality? It seems large enough.

    I edited my post to reflect on .htaccess, which I meant to originally. Have a look. Thanks.

    Posted: 5 years ago #
  4. The problem with asking WordPress (and any plugin) to store ALL the possible permutations of a URL, knowing the whimsy of a lot of people, is the overhead. .htaccess and other server-side tools to redirect based on patterns is always going to be more efficient than asking WP to do this. And even then, too many .htaccess rules will slow your site down. There's no way around it.

    Too many changes is going to come back and bit ya.

    I feel that allowing people to do the wrong thing is pretty much the same as encouraging them to continue wrong :) If we don't correct clients and tell them "You know what, no, this is a stupid idea and it's bad for you BECAUSE ..." then we perpetuate this behavior.

    No plugin does it the way you want it, yet. So write it. Or spec it out. You'll notice we're dev'ing WP 3.7 and 3.8 pretty much all via plugins :) There's a reason. They really do work. :)

    Posted: 5 years ago #
  5. Andrew Miguelez


    This has nothing to do with clients. This is a necessity for SEO when site structure changes. Plain and simple.

    I'm glad you like plugins. I prefer curing diseases rather than putting band-aids on everything. Just my opinion, but I feel like plugins are (in general) inefficient and sketchy. At least when it comes to core functionality. I don't like "improving" my sites with plugins that just end up slowing it down.

    To address your claim that we shouldn't allow users to screw up their site... Well, WordPress already saves previous URLs - without our consent. I just think we should have some say.

    Posted: 5 years ago #
  6. monkeypunch3

    Amen. Any news on if aliases are possible yet?

    Posted: 2 years ago #
  7. They're called .htaccess redirects. There are plugins that do this, if you're not willing to edit them yourself (which I do understand).

    Yoast SEO can do it.

    It's the OP's opinion (as he said) that no plugin meets his specific needs. You should try testing a few to see if they meet yours.

    Posted: 2 years ago #
  8. Andrew Miguelez


    Yeah, give the htaccess rules a try if your changes are structured and simple. Try a plugin if they're not.

    Alternatively, you can just make the changes and hope your visitors and Google forgive you in due time.

    I gave up expecting any rational, data-driven improvements to WP Core a long time ago. Besides, they're way too busy forcing emoji's to load on all WordPress sites against our will. There's no time to address our needs.


    Posted: 2 years ago #
  9. That was kind of mean.

    Andrew, I understand that you didn't get what you wanted, but that's really no excuse to insult people and hurt their feelings. I suggest you read https://poststatus.com/the-trojan-emoji/ to really understand a lot more about why emojis were done.

    We need better data-driven improvements. Everyone knows this. It's (currently) a matter of how to collect the data without infringing on people's privacy.

    Posted: 2 years ago #

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    This is plugin territory