How to do bulk redirects in WordPress

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Jul 21st 2020

When it comes to doing bulk redirects in WordPress, you’re going to either need to use a redirection plugin or add redirect rules directly to the .htaccess file (if using an Apache server). Depending on your level of experience, using a plugin will be easier and have less technical knowledge needed, however, redirects can be slower to load and therefore a lot less efficient if you’re working with deadlines. If you’re experienced, are a web developer or working with one, applying rules for htaccess for 301 redirects is a lot quicker.

Creating redirection Spreadsheets and lists

You’ll need to create a list of data which reflects all current URLs and the new URL path each needs to take. This can be a time consuming job for large scale websites with many pages and is often performed using a Spreadsheet to collate and match data.

It’ll look something like this:

Redirect spreadsheet list example

However, Redirectly can perform this task quickly and without the disadvantage of human error. When a XML sitemap is uploaded to Redirectly or a website is crawled directly, Redirectly auto-matches URLs against the new website URLs. It then leaves the remaining URLs to easily be dragged and grouped to their new URL. It’s easy to create a 301 or 302 redirect too.

The completed list can then be exported into a CSV, NGINX or APACHE file format. This allows you to integrate the data into nearly any WordPress setup. The CSV option allows users to import redirects straight into many WordPress redirection plugins, and the NGINX/APACHE format allows you to impediment them on the server level.

Uploading a redirection list to WordPress

You’ll need to decide whether you’re working with a plugin or if you’re going to upload with htaccess. If you’re going with a plugin, then you can use Redirection for WordPress (supports 4.9+ & PHP 5.6+) which creates, manages and monitors 301 redirects.

Once downloaded through “Plugins” on WordPress, you can then navigate to “Import/Export” and from import, you can than import your redirect file by clicking “Add File” and choosing to “Upload” - you will then see a message to say that your redirections have been successfully imported to your website.

If you’re using .htaccess file and Redirectly, the URL structure will already be formatted and an export completed to easily upload, without using a .htaccess rule generator.

Some websites might already have a .htaccess file in place. You’ll likely find this in the hosting companies control panel, if not, you should be able to connect to your webserver, find the web root for your website and it’ll be in there. When you’ve located this, download it and open it up so that it’s possible to edit the content (we’d recommend saving a backup copy just in case!)

You’ll then be able to copy everything from your chosen export from Redirectly beneath the current content in the .htaccess file and then reupload the file to the website.

Search Console & Indexing

When you’ve imported your redirects, it’s worth considering whether you need to reindex the website now that new URLs have been added. In our experience, we’ve found that it’s good practice to reindex a website that has a lot of links to the old pages within it, to ensure that links are no longer broken (if you have the time to go through the website and clean up the old links and change them to the new ones, this will help keep things clean, simple and causes one less redirect). However, if you know that the links are no longer there, then the crawl isn’t going to have much of an effect without broken links.

That being said, if your new website has new pages and new content, we’d recommend running the site through Search Console to ensure that they’re in the SERPs and ranking ASAP to drive traffic.

It’s also worth checking some of the (old) URLs to ensure that the new paths are in place once your redirect import is complete.

Bulk redirect uploads can be a time consuming process and a lot of that comes from the initial stages of matching and formatting the URL list, as well as dictating whether the path is a 301 or 302. More time is often added when importing the list to the website and when using a plugin (such as Redirection) the duration is heavily dependent on how many pages are being redirected.

Find out more about Redirectly’s features with auto-crawl, auto-match, bulk matching and multi-tech export.

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