WordPress Permalinks Not Working? Steps to Resolve 404 Error

Are your WordPress permalinks not working? Do you see a “404 Page Not Found” error on your web pages? 

That can put a dent in the user experience of your website, bringing down the traffic significantly. That’s why one of the crucial undertakings of SEO experts is taking care of the WordPress permalinks not working. In fact, it’s an important part of the WordPress SEO checklist.

There are several triggers for a 404 page not found error on a WordPress website due to permalinks not working. Some common ones are conflicting plugins, changes in the ‘.htaccess’ file, and more. 

So, in this guided blog, I’ll show you what the WordPress permalinks are, what might be the cause for your WordPress permalinks not working, and how you can fix them.

So, let’s start with what permalinks are.

As the name suggests, a WordPress permalink is a permanent URL structure for a web page. It defines the web addresses of individual posts, pages, categories, and other content types on a WordPress website. Permalinks are essential for navigation and search engine optimization (SEO).

Simply put, a permalink is used by visitors to access specific content on your WordPress site. It should ideally reflect the content’s title or topic, making it both descriptive and memorable.

WordPress allows users to customize the structure of these permalinks based on their preferences. You can choose from various permalink formats, including:

  1. Plain: This format includes basic query parameters and is not considered SEO-friendly. It looks like this: https://example.com/?p=123.
  2. Day and Name: Incorporates the publication date and post name, e.g., https://example.com/2023/09/15/sample-post.
  3. Month and Name: Similar to “Day and Name,” but only includes the month in the URL, e.g., https://example.com/2023/09/sample-post.
  4. Numeric: Uses post IDs, e.g., https://example.com/archives/123.
  5. Post Name: Offers a clean and SEO-friendly URL structure, e.g., https://example.com/sample-post.
  6. Custom Structure: Lets you create a custom permalink structure using various placeholders for post attributes.

Choosing the right permalink structure is essential for SEO and user experience. A well-optimized and descriptive permalink can help take the search engine ranking of your website higher, so the visitors can understand and remember your URLs easily.

With WordPress, you can edit the permalink of individual posts and pages when creating or editing content. This flexibility lets you craft specific URLs that best suit each piece of content, enhancing both SEO and user navigation.

Now, let’s say you set the perfect URL structures for the pages on your WordPress website. But now, some WordPress permalinks are not working. What’s the reason behind that?

WordPress permalinks not working can be a frustrating issue. But there are several common causes behind this problem. So it’s important you know exactly what’s causing your WordPress permalinks not working. Otherwise, you won’t be able to fix them.

Here are some of the main reasons for broken permalinks:

  • Incorrect Permalink Settings: Improper configuration of permalink settings in your WordPress admin panel is one of the most common causes. Ensure that you have selected the desired permalink structure under “Settings” → “Permalinks.”
  • Missing .htaccess File: WordPress relies on an ‘.htaccess’ file to handle permalinks. If this file is corrupted or missing, it can lead to permalink issues. You can regenerate it by going to the Permalinks settings and saving your permalink structure again.
  • File Permissions: Incorrect file permissions on your ‘.htaccess’ file or WordPress directories can prevent permalinks from working correctly. Ensure that the file permissions are set to 644 for files and 755 for directories.
  • Mod_Rewrite Module: Permalinks in WordPress require the ‘Apache mod_rewrite’ module to be enabled on your server. If it’s not enabled, you may need to contact your hosting provider to enable it.
  • Conflicting Plugins: Sometimes, plugins can interfere with the functioning of permalinks. Deactivate all your plugins and see if the issue is resolved. If it is, reactivate your plugins one by one to identify the problematic ones.
  • Theme Issues: Your WordPress theme can also affect permalinks. Switch to a default WordPress theme (e.g., Twenty Twenty-One) temporarily to check if your theme is the source of the problem.
  • Corrupted .htaccess Rules: If you’ve manually added custom rules to your .htaccess file and made a mistake, it can lead to permalink issues. Double-check the rules for accuracy.
  • Server Configuration: Some server configurations, such as security settings or URL rewriting rules, can conflict with WordPress permalinks. Review your server’s configuration or consult your hosting provider for assistance.
  • Cache and CDN: Caching plugins or content delivery networks (CDNs) can sometimes serve cached versions of your pages, causing permalink issues. Clear your cache or disable caching temporarily to see if that resolves the problem.
  • Database Corruption: In rare cases, database corruption can affect permalinks. You can try repairing your WordPress database using tools like phpMyAdmin or by using the wp-config.php file.
  • Corrupted Core Files: If WordPress core files are corrupted, it can lead to a variety of issues, including permalink problems. Reinstalling WordPress core files can help in such cases.

These are the potential causes for 404 error due to WordPress permalinks not working. So, you will have to troubleshoot your website thoroughly to accurately determine which one is behind the issue. But make sure you first take a backup of your website.

WordPress permalinks not working results in a 404 error. So, you will need to perform a few troubleshooting and corrective actions. But you have to carefully deduce the accurate cause behind the permalink error before you start the resolution process.

Here are a few ways you can fix the WordPress permalinks not working:

Since WordPress permalinks are not working, the first method to solve the 404 error is by checking and resetting the Permalink settings. Here’s how you go about it:

Step 1: Log in to your WordPress admin dashboard.

Step 2: Now, navigate through the WordPress settings and go to the “Permalink”. It will take you to the Permalinks settings page.

Step 3: On the Permalinks settings page, you’ll see different options for choosing your permalink structure. WordPress offers several common structures, including Plain, Day and name, Month and name, Numeric, Post name, and Custom Structure.

Make a note of the current permalink structure that’s causing issues. You can do this by either taking a screenshot or writing it down. This is important in case you need to revert to the original structure.

Step 4: Typically, just changing the permalink structure and saving it can resolve the WordPress permalinks not working. The most commonly-used structure is “Post name”, but you can choose among the options mentioned above.

Step 5: After selecting a new permalink structure, scroll down the settings page and save the changes. That will update the permalink URL structure of your page.

Step 6: Now, visit your website and navigate to the various WordPress pages and posts. So you can ensure the “404 Page Not Found” no longer appears.

That should fix the WordPress permalinks not working. But if it doesn’t, you may revert to your original structure. Plus, you will need to perform other troubleshooting steps.

Verify the .htaccess File

In WordPress, the ‘.htaccess’ configuration file dictates how the server runs and works on your website. It can control password protection, 301 redirects, the default language, SSL connections, and more. However, an issue with this configuration file may also cause WordPress permalinks not working.

So here’s what you need to do to verify the .htaccess file and fix the WordPress permalinks not working. 

Step 1: Access the WordPress root directory of your website through an FTP client or the hosting provider

Step 2: In the root directory, locate the ‘.htaccess’ file (the dot at the front shows .htaccess is a hidden file, so make sure your FTP client or host’s file manager is configured accordingly). 

Step 3: If you don’t have a .htaccess file, make sure to create one manually. In your FTP client or file manager, right-click in the root directory and choose to create a new file. 

Name the file “.htaccess” (make sure you don’t forget the dot at the beginning).

Step 4: Now open the .htaccess file through a text or code editor and enter the default WordPress rewrite rules.

# BEGIN WordPress
<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteRule ^index\.php$ - [L]
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
RewriteRule . /index.php [L]
# END WordPress

These rules tell the server how to handle URLs. They are essential for permalinks to work correctly.

Step 5: After creating or modifying the .htaccess, save your changes. Then, upload the file to your WordPress root directory.

Step 6: Ensure that the .htaccess file has the correct file permissions. It should typically be set to 644. Use your FTP client or file manager to adjust the permissions if necessary.

Now, again, visit your website and navigate to various posts and pages to ensure the WordPress permalinks are working. 

This part of the process is a bit too technical for those without coding knowledge and experience. If you’re also uncomfortable handling the core WordPress and its root directory, I recommend you get in touch with dedicated WordPress experts.

Test for Plugin Conflicts

Now, on to a more straightforward fix for WordPress permalinks not working. By default, I suggest you choose the best WordPress plugin for whatever feature or functionality you want to integrate. But still, plugin conflicts are among the most common reasons behind the 404 page not found error.

So, to alleviate this issue, you will have to test and address any potential plugin conflicts. 

Step 1: Log into your WordPress admin panel and open the “Plugins” section.

Step 2: In the “Installed Plugins” option, select the checkbox at the top to select all plugins.

Step 3: Then, choose “Deactivate” from the “Bulk Actions” drop-down menu, and apply.

Step 4: After deactivating all plugins, visit your website and navigate to various pages and posts. Check to see if the “404 Page Not Found” error still occurs. Test multiple pages to be thorough.

Hopefully, the issue of WordPress permalinks not working is no longer there. Check for multiple pages and posts to be sure.

Step 5: Now, reactivate the plugins one by one and check the permalinks after every plugin activation.

The moment you see the 404 error, it’ll be a confirmation for that particular plugin to be the culprit.

So now, you have a few choices.

  1. Update the plugin, activate it, and see if the problem is still there.
  2. Find an alternative plugin.
  3. Contact the plugin developer and ask for a solution.

Or you may opt for our WordPress plugin development services. We’ll customize and repair that plugin and even create a whole new plugin for your website.

Clear Cache and Disable CDN

Although it’s a rare cause of concern, we have seen WordPress permalinks not working due to cache and CDN. So you need to clear the WordPress cache and that of the browser and disable CDN to fix the 404 error.

Here’s how you do it:

Step 1: Log into the WordPress admin.

Now, there’s a good chance that you are using a plugin like W3 Total Cache or WP Super Cache for caching functionality on your website.

Step 2: Then go to “Plugins” and select your installed caching plugin.

Step 3: Now, in its settings, look for an option to clear or purge the cache and click on it.

See if the broken link problem is still there. If yes, move on to disabling the caching temporarily.

Step 4: Open the plugin and click on “Deactivate”.

With the caching plugin deactivated, test your permalinks again to see if the “404 Page Not Found” error is resolved.

There’s a good chance you’re using a Content Delivery Network (CDN) service for good performance. Common CDN services like Cloudflare, StackPath, or Amazon CloudFront can sometimes cache your website content as well.

Step 5: Log into your CDN provider’s dashboard and look for an option to pause or disable the CDN service.

Save the changes and test your permalinks again. If clearing the cache and disabling the CDN did not resolve the broken link problem, re-enable these services.

Reinstall WordPress Core

If none of the above techniques work, you can try reinstalling the WordPress core files. It involves downloading a fresh copy of WordPress and replacing the core files on your server while preserving your content and configuration files.

Here’s how you fix the WordPress permalinks not working by reinstalling the core:

Step 1: Take a comprehensive backup of your WordPress website using a reliable plugin or the hosting provider’s backup tools. So you can restore your website if anything goes wrong during the reinstallation process.

Step 2: After creating the backup, visit the official WordPress website and download its latest version. This download will provide you with a ZIP file containing the WordPress core files.

Step 3: Select all plugins, follow the bulk action, and choose “Deactivate” from the drop-down menu. That will deactivate all plugins installed on your website together. 

Step 4: To prevent users from opening your site while you work on it, you can enable maintenance mode using a plugin (like LightStart) or by adding a maintenance page manually. This step is optional.

Step 5: Now, access your WordPress root directory structure through the hosting file manager or FTP. Then, delete all the core files and folders EXCEPT the “wp-content” folder and the “wp-config.php” file.

Step 6: In this step, extract the ZIP file you downloaded from the official WordPress website and upload it to the root directory. You will be effectively replacing the old files. 

Step 7: After reinstalling your core WordPress, go back to the Permalink settings and check if your preferred URL structure is selected. If not, re-select your desired structure and save changes.

Step 8: Now, reactivate the plugins one-by-one and test the permalink after each activation.

Finally, visit your website and see if the permalinks are still broken. Make sure you test different pages and posts. If the 404 page not found error is gone, and everything is working well, you may disable the maintenance mode.

These 5 techniques should be enough to fix the broken permalinks in WordPress. But if you still encounter this issue, I believe you should contact a WordPress development company. Their experts have the skills and resources to determine and address the issue behind this error effectively, without any data loss.

Why are my WordPress permalinks not working?
WordPress permalinks may not work due to various reasons. That includes incorrect settings, issues with the .htaccess file, plugin conflicts, server configuration problems, or problems with the WordPress core files.
What should I do if I see a "404 Page Not Found" error with permalinks?
Here's what to do if you encounter a 404 error with permalinks:
  • Reset permalink settings.
  • Verify .htaccess file.
  • Check file permissions.
  • Test for the plugin or theme conflicts.
  • Investigate server configuration.
  • Reinstall WordPress core files (last resort).
What are the best practices to prevent WordPress permalinks not working?
Prevention is always better than cure. So you can do the following to prevent the issue of broken permalinks:
  • Choose a SEO-Friendly Permalink Structure
  • Set Permalink Structure Early
  • Monitor Your .htaccess File
  • Avoid Special Characters
  • Use Descriptive Post and Page Titles
  • Enable Permalink Canonicalization
  • Update WordPress Regularly
  • Choose Reliable Plugins and Themes
  • Regularly Check for Broken Links
Through these, you can minimize the risk of encountering broken permalink issues.


One of the most common reasons behind the 404 Page Not Found error on your web page is your WordPress permalinks not working. It can be due to a variety of triggers, like incorrect permalink settings, missing or corrupt .htaccess file, conflicting plugins, cache and CDN, etc.

But don’t worry; there are ways to fix the broken WordPress permalinks, and above, we have discussed the 5 best ones.

  • Check and reset the permalink settings.
  • Verify the .htaccess file
  • Test for plugin conflicts
  • Clear cache and disable CDN
  • Reinstall WordPress core

There are some other ways as well, but these should be enough to resolve the broken URLs. However, if you still encounter issues with WordPress permalinks not working on your website, get in touch with our experts today!

Jigar Shah is the Founder of WPWeb Infotech - a leading Web Development Company in India, USA. Being the founder of the company, he takes care of business development activities and handles the execution of the projects. He is Enthusiastic about producing quality content on challenging technical subjects.

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