Lost SERP/traffic after permalink change

Hi guys,

Last week I’ve lost almost 90% of my visitors and SERP for tones of my keywords. Although my site is still ranking in the top 10 for a handful of keywords, for most of them it’s gone from 1st to somewhere between 2nd and 22nd page (talking about Google of course:)).

I would like to ask you if the following might be a reason for the slap:
I’ve been using this WP permalink structure for almost 3 years since the day one: /%category%/%postname%/. Last month I discovered that this is causing a huge server load, followed by down time etc. That’s why I changed the permalink structure to: /%year%/%monthnum%/%category%/%postname%/. I also properly 301 redirected the old URLs in order to avoid any duplications.
The second URL change was for one of mine major categories which generated new URLs for about 1600 pages. I have also 301 redirected these URLs.
My question is if that’s a possible reason to loose my SERP / traffic. I have actually killed 50% of my internal pages, some of them with PR2,3 or 4 and replaced them with new PR0 pages.

Thanks in advance :slight_smile:

First let me say that I don’t understand how the permalink structure was causing much of a server load compared to the new one you chose. If your hosting company told you that then they were lying to you. Permalinks use more server load but only compared to the normal ?p=123 structure. So if you are changing from /%category%/%postname%/ to /%year%/%monthnum%/%category%/%postname%/ it doesn’t change any load on the server. Its still permalinks only written different.

Do you know if those internal pages you killed were bringing in any search traffic? IF you killed a number of pages, then you are now competing across less keywords, hence the drop in traffic. It might take some time for Google to transfer the rankings to those new pages and I saw a post once on SEOMOZ that says you lose up to 10% link juice even when you 301 pages.

I wish you would have done some in-depth research before you went ahead and made your server changes.

I have discovered that my self - my site used to crash my DualCore Xeon 3.0 Ghz 4 GB DDR2 RAM server every time when I tried to publish or edit a page. The reason - huge rewrite rules list in the options rewrite_rules. here’s a useful post: http://ottopress.com/2010/category-in-permalinks-considered-harmful/ The moment I changed the permalink structure - the problem’s gone :).
Yes - the internal pages were the main traffic source - long tail etc. But I think it’s slowly coming back to the new pages :slight_smile: Obviously G needs some time to understand my site’s new structure.


For performance reasons, it is not a good idea to start your permalink structure with the category, tag, author, or postname fields. The reason is that these are text fields, and using them at the beginning of your permalink structure it takes more time for WordPress to distinguish your Post URLs from Page URLs (which always use the text “page slug” as the URL), and to compensate, WordPress stores a lot of extra information in its database (so much that sites with lots of Pages have experienced difficulties). So, it is best to have at least two path segments in your post’s permalink structure such as /%year%/%postname%/ or even /posts/%postname%/. (Some people recommend /%post_id%/%postname%/ which works for performance reasons but others recommend against it because it is unfriendly to users in the many contexts in which users interact with URLs.) See Otto’s technical writeup on the topic as well as this [URL=“http://comox.textdrive.com/pipermail/wp-testers/2009-January/011097.html”]wp-testers discussion.

It is Quite interesting that you have changed your permalinks without doing maximum research… I am Still Using /%category%/%postname%/ and these working fine for me atleast and my site on first page with several major keywords…

I have some question for You…
If you change the permalinks Did You use any Plugin or do it for self trhough .htaccess?
Did You Made 301 Redirect Properly?
Did you use any sitemap genration Plugin?
Did you update your sitemap?
Did You submit your sitemap on Google Webmaster tools after redirection?

Let me Know Your Answers…

I have lost my SERP not because I’ve been using /%category%/%postname%/ but because of the change. I like this structure and I’ve been using in quite successfully for 3 years until my site grow up to 1600 pages and started crashing my server. I’ve been researching the subject for 3 month before I’ve decided to take the risk and to change the permalink structure mainly based on the quoted above. I needed to change my dedicated server twice, install and try all WP cache plugins etc. The only thing that helped was to change the permalink to the year / month structure and to flush the rewrite_rules table.
My plugins:
Google XML Sitemaps
Permalink Redirect WordPress Plugin by Scott Yang.
I’m updating my sitemap after every change
I’ve been using GWT since day one

My question was generally about replacing the URLs of my indexed and well ranked pages with new URLs and if this might be the reason for the SERP and traffic drop. I am 100% convinced about the permalink structure and I can assure you that the short version won’t work for a site with as many pages (not posts!) as mine :slight_smile:

Well Rather then changing URLs you have to change the server first… As Far as mentioned plugins is concerned these plugins are fine…

As Far as Your question is concern regarding changing URLs that might effect your SERP, yes but upto some extant… Google finds the redirected links but it still shows the Previous URLS until or Unless the major crawls occurs and its crawls your whole site…

Let me conclude this conversation, do not panic and wait for a while when Google Crawl the whole site your SERP will be retain but it will take some time… :slight_smile: