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How to Simplify the URLs for Downloadable Files

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A member is using the Media Library for uploading and managing PDF files that she is offering for download on her site.  Unfortunately she doesn’t like the long and awkward URL that it gets when it is managed by the Media Library.  She asks if there is a way to make the URLs shorter and more intuitive.  We discuss two methods.  First to create a directory on her site where she manages the files without the Media Library using FTP.  The second is to use the Thesis 301 redirect to change the apparent URL.

Video Transcript

And then let’s see, there was the 3rd question and then your 3rd question’s actually really an interesting question. The 3rd question was you want to change the address for this link. Oh, you’ve even created the new case studies page. Was this here earlier today?

No, no. It just happened a few minutes ago.

Okay, okay. So you’ve got this new page and then what you want is the address for each of these case studies not to be WP content uploads 2001 02 case study 1 first on Google and only 3 months 1 pdf.


But you want it to be a


And so the question is why do you want that? Do you want it from a user’s standpoint or do you want it from Google’s standpoint?

I guess both. I mean, I’ve always liked…learn I think even from you that we needed clean URL. Not only this but clean URL and also from a Google standpoint. SEO.

Well, you could make… the problem is that you’re not referring to a page. You’re referring to a file.


So you could, if you wanted to, you could create a directory in your root directory called “Case Studies” and then you could put the pdf files in that directory and then the address of that file would be And it would be that way for everybody. However, that does require you to create a directory outside of WordPress and it’s not that hard to do right? You just do it in Filezilla, you’d open up Filezilla and you know, on your site, you would….really, under the root of the site, you would just create a new directory. You know, create a directory and then that directory name would be whatever name you gave it then you could put those files in that name…

So it would say case study…

Then your URL would be… what’s that?

The directory would be called case study in this case?

Yeah. Now the thing is that…or it could be called documents or it could be whatever, right? Whatever you want to name the directory and then you would put the files there. Now WordPress is never going to know about those files, right? You won’t be able to use the Media Library to put them in there because of that.


WordPress is always you know, WordPress is set up to put file attachments which is what that’s called, WordPress just has to put file attachments in those downloads directories. So an alternative is to let WordPress put the document where you want it and just use a 301 redirect in Thesis, right? So you could also, in Thesis under you know, you could create a page under case studies. So for example you know, just like this page here, say the page was named “Lesson Less Test” or “Case Study Number 1” and then you could go down under the 301 redirect and put the actual URL of the document here. And so if somebody hovers over the link, it would say you know, Case Study 1 but once they clicked on it, it would take them to the place in the uploads directory that has it. So that only helps this right here, when you hover over document and here on the bottom, you can see the name of the document. You know, this helps that.

Wait, wait. I have a question. I’m not really clear. Basically what you’re saying is that we’re going to redirect this page to the directory we just created outside of WordPress.

No, no. That’s not what I’m saying. What I’m saying is we would… this is the other option, right? Option 1 was to create a new directory. Option 2 is to go ahead and let the Media Library do its job which is to handle… you upload the file to the Media Library and you store it there. But in order… but you clean up the link to that by creating a 301 redirect. So this link actually links to a page called Case Study Number 1 and then that Case Study Number 1 redirects to the file location. So Google’s going to know about the file in its real file location but somebody going there from the page would see this simpler URL. That’s why I asked who you care about, right? Who does the URL matter to?

Right. Yeah, I guess more for Google.

So really your only option then is to create a new directory outside of the WordPress system in the root of your directory, right? Or you could… yeah. You’re going to have to.. I mean, that’s what I would do with it is I would put it in the root of your directory and then you know, put the files there. You’re going to have to manually type the addresses to those files when you do a link here though because WordPress won’t know how to get there.

Okay. But how do I add my pdf there if I cannot upload it with the Media Library?

You’d upload it with Filezilla. You’d upload it with Filezilla.


You just upload the file just like you would upload custom CSS or something like that.

Okay, okay. Wow, thanks. That’s a bit complicated but I’m going to try that.

Well, I’ll do a quick little video of it later on today and post it along with this so that you can… I mean, really it’s not particularly difficult. The one problem is though that you know, this page… this case studies page… you know, you don’t want to confuse WordPress. So you wouldn’t… this references, this actually isn’t a directory, right? It looks like a directory here but it’s not actually a directory, it’s a page and this is a subpage of this page. Well, if you created a directory called “references” under, you would be confusing the daylights out of WordPress and it probably wouldn’t know how to resolve the page because it would have both this designation that references a page and this designation that also references a directory.


So you want to make sure you keep your name separate. So you wouldn’t want to use the same name, both inside of WordPress and out.

Okay but this link now is normal? That it’s doing this? That it’s referenced first? Because of the structure of the navigation bar, right?

Well, it’s because of the structure of… you made this case study page as child page of the references page. And the references page is the parent of this page, that’s the way you made it.

Okay, okay. I think I understand more or less. Okay, great.

Okay, well I’ll do a quick little video of it and post it so that you can see. You know ,it’s too complicated to actually do it on your site or to do it on my site so I need to do it on a little demonstration site but I’ll do that for you today and post it at the forum so that you can see that.

Great. And thank you very, very much. Great, thanks.

You’re welcome. Talk to you later.


Bye bye.

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