Consider these two category page URLs for a news blog:
I’m going to ask you which of the two URLs looks more appealing to users and search engines, but hang on.
To remind you, WordPress automatically adds the base prefix “category” to all your category page URLs.
The base prefix is added to the page’s URLs to help users and search engines differentiate it from a post or an ordinary page.
Now put yourself in the shoes of a reader. You wanted to know what’s latest in tech. So you’re given these two links that will take you to a category page with all of the technology-related news.
Which of these links are you likely to click?
The second one, of course.
The phrase “category” in the URL doesn’t seem right. Remember, we’re talking about a news blog here. Considering the type of audience that the website is attracting, the word “news” fits in better than the latter.
If you’ve thought of changing the base prefix of your WordPress blog to align your category page URLs with your website’s strategy, architecture, and target audience, you’re in the right place.
In this guide, I will show you exactly how to change the category base prefix in WordPress, step-by-step.
Even better, I will show you how to do it without affecting your SEO performance.
Let’s geek out on this, shall we?
What Is a Category Base Prefix in WordPress?
A category base prefix is added to the URL of a category page to help users and search engines distinguish it from a typical page and a post.
When you add a category to your WordPress post, each one gets its own page.
By default, WordPress will add the word “category” as the base prefix of your category page URL.
Say, for example, you have a category called “personal finance” with 15 posts under it. Then the URL of the category page will look like this:
The “category” section of the URL will tell users that they’ve visited the “personal finance” category, which has all 15 posts related to it.
But why would someone want to change the base prefix of their category page URL?
Well, here’s why:
Not all business websites are the same.
For example, if you have a news website, you don’t want to use the prefix just to tell visitors that they are on a category page. Instead, you’d like to use a custom category base prefix that best matches your business website architecture and audience.
In that case, changing your category base prefix to a word like “topics” or “news” will help you stand out:
Just look at the examples below:
With such custom category page URLs, it helps you create a website structure that best meets your business goals and communicates value.
How to Change Category Base Prefix in WordPress
In WordPress, it’s easier to change the base prefix of your category page URL than on custom websites or websites hosted on other platforms.
Here’s how to do it:
Head to your WordPress dashboard, click on the “Settings” menu, then “Permalinks.”
Scroll down to the “Optional” section, where you can change the base prefix to your liking in the “Category base” field. For example, you can change it from “category” to “topics.”
Proceed and hit the “Save Changes” button.
Redirecting the Old Category Page URLs
When you change your category base prefix, your category page URLs will move to a new location.
If visitors use the old link to access the category page, they will receive a 404 error. Likewise, search engines will not know that you’ve changed your category page links.
In that case, you need to redirect the old URL to the new one for a better user experience.
In this section, I will show you how to do it using a WordPress plugin called Rank Math.
1. How to Add Regex Redirects Using Rank Math
Rank Math is one of the best WordPress SEO plugins with a powerful redirection feature. With the SEO plugin, you can easily manage 301 redirects and eliminate broken links on your website.
To redirect your old category pages in WordPress, we will use the regex redirect and the 301 redirect type.
The regex redirect will help us direct all old category page URLs to new ones all at once.
And the 301 redirect type will enable us to tell the search engines and users’ browsers that our old URL has been permanently moved to a new location.
Follow the following steps to redirect your old category pages.
After installing and activating the Rank Math SEO plugin, ensure you’ve toggled “on” the “redirection” module.
Then navigate to the “Redirections” section in the Rank Math module as indicated below.
Proceed and hit the “Add New” button.
To add a regex redirect, add the source url as category/(.*) and select “Regex” from the drop-down menu. Go ahead and enter /topics/$1 as the source URL.
Please note that “category” should represent your previous base prefix, and “topics” should define your WordPress site’s current category base prefix.
After that, select the redirection type as “301 Permanent Move” then activate the redirection status, and once done, click on the “Add Redirection” button.
Clear your browser cache and try to access any of your old category pages to check if they redirect to the new ones.
If you get a 404 error, cross-check your source and destination URLs. Cross-check to see whether you typed the characters correctly and that there is no space between them.
Otherwise, everything should work fine.
2. Regex Redirect Using the Redirection Plugin
If you’re using the free version of an SEO plugin like Yoast SEO, you won’t have access to their redirection management tool.
In that case, you need to install a plugin like Redirection to redirect all your category page URLs.
Go ahead to your WordPress dashboard and install the “Redirection” plugin.
After activating the plugin, head over to your WordPress dashboard menu, click on “Tools” then “Redirection” to access the plugin.
To add a regex redirection, click on the “Add New” menu tool.
Proceed by entering ^/category/(.*) as your source url and /topics/$1 as the target url. After that, select “Regex” redirection from the drop-down menu.
Continue and click on the “Add Redirect” button to save the changes.
Changing the category base prefix in WordPress is a great way to improve your website’s SEO and user experience.
Following the steps outlined in this guide, you can quickly customize your category URLs to better align with your brand and make them more user-friendly.
Afterward, you can use an SEO plugin like Rank Math to redirect all of the old category page links to the new ones.
This allows you to keep each URL’s SEO value while preventing visitors who used one of the previous URLs from landing on the 404 error page.