I love it when people send in questions to me and for this edition, Brian asks:
If I change from the date-based to just /%postname%/, will my old permalinks convert over to just postname?
The short answer is no. What ends up happening is that, all of the permalinks on your blog will be changed to represent the new configuration. This will cause all links that were created before the change to be broken. Also, any links that have been indexed in Google with the old permalink structure will be invalid and will need to be re indexed. If you really feel convinced to change your permalink structure, I recommend using the Permalinks Migration plugin. This plugin will generate a “301 Redirect” when users or spiders visit your site through old permalinks, and redirect them to the new permalinks of the same post. After that, I recommend using the Broken Link checker plugin to discover links on your site that are producing 404 errors.
If you are just starting out, take a good hard look at how you will be using your blog in the future. This will help you to determine which linking structure works for you. As far as am I concerned, setting up permalinks in WordPress to %postname% is all you need and this helps to keep the link short and sweet. I’ve been told that in order for links to be added into the Google News engine, a link needs to have at least 3-5 numbers within it. I don’t know if that is true or not but I’d rather just stick to postnames.
For more information regarding the configuration of permalinks, please read this post which goes into detail regarding the different ways in which to configure pretty permalinks in WordPress.