Setting Redirects Using the Redirection Plugin
A redirect automatically forwards a website’s visitors from one URL (web address) to another.
You might set redirects on your website for several reasons, including:
- Launching a new site: If a new website is replacing an existing site, some or all of your page URLs will change. You need redirects! (Learn more about redirects for new website launches.)
- Moving a page or changing its title/URL: If you change a page’s parent, that page’s URL will change. Similarly, if you update a page title and change the permalink to match, the URL will change. Either way, you need a redirect!
- Uploading a new version of file (pdf, ppt, etc.): The URL of a file such as a PDF is based on the upload date and the filename (eg, https://webtheme.med.wustl.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/wusm-web-theme-usage-policy.pdf). Therefore, if you upload a new version of a file, links will continue to go to the old version. In addition to changing all of the links on your site, it’s best to set a redirect from the old file to the new version in case other websites are linking to it as well. So, you need a redirect! (Or, if you update file versions often, you need the Enable Media Replace plugin! Contact Medical Public Affairs if you’d like to learn more.)
- Creating a vanity URL: If you need to truncate a long URL for a print, social media or radio campaign, you need a redirect! (For example, on the School of Medicine website, we used a redirect to create a vanity URL for Commencement:
If you’re launching a new site that replaces an existing site, follow the directions below to set up your redirects before the new site goes live. Until the new site goes live, the redirects you set will not affect your current website.
If you’re setting a redirect for any of the other reasons listed above, simply set it as soon as you need it. Redirects added to a live site will go into effect immediately when set.
To set redirects on websites hosted by WashU IT, including sites in the WUSM Web Theme, you’ll use a plugin called Redirection. Plugins are tools that can be added to the your base web theme, so this tool is not automatically available on your site. Contact Medical Public Affairs if you need to have Redirection installed.
1. Access the Redirection plugin
From the WordPress dashboard, click Tools > Redirection in the left menu.
If Redirection doesn’t appear under Tools, contact Medical Public Affairs (firstname.lastname@example.org) to request adding the Redirection plugin to your WUSM Web Theme site.
2. Change global settings
Adjusting a few global settings will make your life easier with every redirect you set! You only need to change these settings once.
- Click Options
- Find Default URL settings, and check both settings to enable them: Case insensitive matches and Ignore trailing slashes
- Find Default query matching, and select Ignore all query parameters
- Click Update
3. Set individual redirects
- On the main Redirects tab, click Add New
- Complete these fields:
- Source URL: The link users will be following (original link or vanity URL), starting a forward slash / (everything after .edu)
- Target URL: New page address (the URL where traffic is redirected), starting with a forward slash / (everything after .edu)
- To the right of the Source URL, select Ignore Case and Ignore Slash.
For both fields, enter the part of the URL after .edu, including the forward slash /. This part of the URL, which follows the domain (domain = homepage address), is called the path.
For example, the URL path of this page is (in bold):
- Click Add Redirect
- Test your redirect by going to the source URL and making sure it redirects to the page correctly
4. Or, bulk import many redirects at once
The bulk import option is particularly useful if you are replacing a website and have dozens or even hundreds of redirects to set at once. If you are replacing a site, remember to send Medical Public Affairs a request to set a subdomain-level redirect as well.
- In a spreadsheet, list the source/original URL in Column A, and the corresponding target URL in Column B. Do not include column labels or additional columns.
- The source and target URLs should be truncated. That is, the domain should be removed so the URL starts with the forward slash (see examples in section above).
Pro tip! If your spreadsheet lists the full URL for each page, you can truncate the URLs en masse by running a FIND and REPLACE. FIND should be the domain name without the trailing slash (eg, https://yoursite.wustl.edu). Leave REPLACE blank.
- Save the file as a CSV.
- Navigate to your site’s Redirection page and click Import/Export at the top.
- In the Import section, add your file and click Upload.
- Test your redirects! If you’ve set too many redirects to test all of them individually, run a spot check. You can also contact Medical Public Affairs to run a report that will help identify any issues.
If you would like to apply advanced options, visit the Redirection website for additional support.