Ok, this is going to be a techie post, so beware, but I always find it helpful when I’m searching for solutions to problems to read about how others have solved similar ones.

My permalinks broke over the weekend. I still don’t know why, but they just stopped working in the configuration /archives/%postname%/ as I have had them set up for a LONG time. I searched and searched for a solution to no avail, and finally decided that the only answer was to put a permanent 301 redirect into my .htaccess file. This file is like an instruction manual for all the browsers that visit the site. It tells them what they can and can not do. I downloaded two plugins (Permalink Migration and Permalink Redirect) that were supposed to do this manually, and while I’m sure they will work for many people, neither of them worked for me, for some unknown reason.

So, what to do next? I decided to try just putting one redirect into my htaccess file to see if it would work, and sure enough, it did. The plugins just weren’t able to write to the htaccess file it seems (and yes, I had my permissions set correctly, so that wasn’t the problem). Since the one redirect worked just fine, I’m working my way through my entrance page stats over the last couple of months, to find the majority of ways that people are coming through the “side door” to the site and setting up a redirect for each one. Then I will go back through all 82 posts and get the rest as I have time over the next couple of days. (Anyone have a magic quickie solution that will just spit out a list for me that I can paste into the file?)

How to put a redirect into your htaccess file

It’s fairly simple, just download your .htaccess file from your root directory, and open it with Notepad. At the bottom of the file add the following (replacing my URLs with yours of course):

redirect 301 /archives/a-rainbow-of-free-round-rss-icons http://randaclay.com/freebies/a-rainbow-of-free-round-rss-icons/

What happens if you goof up the code and enter a redirect that doesn’t go anywhere? You’ll bring your entire site down. I did this and began getting Internal Server Errors on every site I have. Not a big deal to fix, but it took me an hour, and a phone call to my host to figure out that I had caused the problem in the first place.

The upside of this is that I’m moving to a better permalink structure, exchanging the empty word “archives” for the more search engine friendly category title.

Anyway, I hope that helps someone else down the line. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming…