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WordPress Permalink Problem – Change Categories, Lose Likes

Monday, March 14, 2016
Content Management SystemsSEM & SEOWordPress


Online marketers count social media “likes” and “shares” of blog posts to measure their content’s popularity and success. If these metrics matter to you, you should consider how you set up your WordPress post URLs – do it wrong and it may come back to bite you.


In the WordPress Admin Panel you can determine how to structure your post URLs.

There are several options:

1. Datestamp
2. Date + post name
3. Unique ID
4. Post name
5. Custom

The Custom setting is very popular because you can customize the URL structure by using shortcodes like this:


This means that your post URL will be appended with a category name (which may have SEO value), then the post name.



However, if you actively measure “shares” and “likes” through your social media channels, you should think long and hard about what type of URL structure you want to commit to.

Because Changes Happen

Why? You may want to change your categories, which would give your posts a new URL! In the real world, this happens more often than you think. Here’s why:

1. You may re-categorize a post
2. You may create or move a subcategory
3. You may rename a category

None of those changes will break the site or any links. WordPress will still show the correct content even if you edit the category or URL.

Losing Likes

But all the previous “likes” and “shares” your post got will vanish and the count will start anew. This happens because technically the URL of the post changed so Facebook and other social networks think they are dealing with a totally different post.

The other bad news is that Facebook will not allow you to add the likes and shares from your old URL to the new URL.

To solve this issue, we created a plugin that does the following:

1. Tries all possible URLs of a blog post and finds the one with the highest # of FB likes/shares.
2. Uses this URL in og tag for sharing.
3. Maintains an active redirect list to redirect users from old to new URLs.

This lets you keep the high scores of shares and likes without losing any traffic due to bad links/404 error.

We plan to package this plugin and have it available on WordPress sometime soon.

Finally, we’re not suggesting you never use the custom setting and shortcodes for your URLs. For some online marketers and publishers, it works great. We just recommend you consider the consequences and alternatives.

For example, our little Workbox blog uses the post name URL feature but also has dynamic categories and tags. For example, this blog:

… is listed on these category pages:

Let us know if you have had a similar experience with custom URLs and what your solution was! Fellow WordPress developers would love your insights!


Jon Wollenhaupt
March 29, 2016 at 9:12 pm

Great content and article!

April 7, 2016 at 1:49 pm

thanks for the great article