What are Permalinks?

Permalinks, a term used for “Permanent Links,” are the URLs used in WordPress to access single pages and posts as well as archives on your website. Permalinks of a WordPress Blog are permanent and will never change until we do it intentionally from the Backend of a WordPress site.

It is vital to understand Permalinks, as it directly impacts the site users and search engines. A Well-organized permalinks structure is important in organizing the content of a website more efficiently as well as to attract visitors and search engines. It will also help in navigating different pages on a site.

In this WordPress Permalinks Structure guide, we will learn the basics of permalinks, how permalinks work in WordPress and how to manage permalinks for better results and some other tips and advanced settings. We will also have a look to make Permalinks Search engine friendly and how to select a Permalink structure for your website.

Table of Contents

Permalinks in WordPress

Permalinks in WordPress can be handled from Backend easily. You have to navigate to the Settings >> Permalinks in the left-hand-side menu of the WordPress dashboard. WordPress Permalinks are usually classified into different types. Here we will try to explain them.

  1. Ugly Permalinks: (Default WordPress Permalink Structure which contains Post ID (http://www.example.com/?p=2017)
  2. Pretty Permalinks: (Custom Permalinks which contains human readable words like (http://www.example.com/%category%/%postname%/)

Ugly permalinks are the default WordPress Permalinks settings activated when you install a WordPress on your server. This is the most annoying permalinks structure and not SEO Friendly. Almost, all the web developers and bloggers switch to Pretty Permalinks right after installing the WordPress. Ugly Permalinks are usually not much readable like in the image below.

Ugly Permalinks in WordPress

Ugly permalink usually contains numbers instead of words. The default WordPress permalinks are considered ugly because it uses Post ID in the URL as you can see below. This is not an SEO Friendly Permalink structure.

https://wparena.com/?p=123

The very first thing to do after installing WordPress is to create a custom Permalink structure. WordPress allows you to generate permalinks (permanent URIs) on your blog, which appear as though each of your posts is an individual static page on your site, rather than the productive output of a database-driven website. A custom Permalink structure will make your blog more SEO friendly and turn those ugly URL’s into Google bait!

pretty permalinks in WordPress

Instead of a URL to one of your stories looking like

https://wparena.com/?p=123, whereas p = “you post id”

WordPress can use something like this link:

http://wparena.com/category-name/your-Posttittle/

Follow these very simple steps for a more SEO friendly WordPress blog URL structure.

From within the WordPress dashboard, click on Settings, then Permalinks.

You will then see the following options:

Default
» https:// wparena.com/?p=123

Date and name based
» https:// wparena.com/2007/05/29/sample-post/

Numeric
» https:// wparena.com/archives/123

Custom, specify below
» Custom structure

Paste the following code in the Custom structure box:

/%category%/%postname%

This is the custom Permalink structure I use and recommend. It will change the post page URL to https:// wparena.com/category/PostTitle

If your post title is too long another you should create a post slug when writing your post

If the title of your post is too long, you can shorten it in the write post screen using a shorter but relevant Post Slug found on the right side of the Write Post box just under the Post Password box.

Warning – If you have an existing WordPress blog changing the URL structure will lose many of your incoming links. If you want to change your Permalink structure on an existing blog, here is a great tutorial.

With a good SEO friendly category and post title, your chances of ranking higher in the search engines will increase.

If using categories and postname in your Permalinks structure, WordPress by default will use the name of the category or categories and the title of your post as part of the post’s URL or The URL of a post using /%category%/%postname% as a Permalink structure will look like this:

http://www.YourSite.com/blog/ParentCategory/SubCategory/TitleOfPost

As you can see this gets long and ugly, but there are ways to shorten this with a little careful consideration when creating new categories and use of the Permalink box above the post editor.

To shorten the permalink when writing a post, look for the Permalink edit button just under the post title. Click it to shorten the trailing end of the URL. Example – if your post title is “How To Work At Home While Drinking Beer” put this in the Post Slug box: work at home beer. Try to make it as short as possible while maintaining the top keywords in the post slug.

To add a new child category go to Posts, Categories, and add a new category. To insert the new category under a parent category just click the drop-down box and choose the parent category. You can also add a description in the optional description box. I suggest adding categories this way instead of doing it from the post editor screen so you can utilize the category slug option to shorten the categories URL if needed.

Using a custom WordPress permalink structure is something most WordPress bloggers usually implement on their WordPress blogs. Using the category and postname in the WordPress Permalinks Structure adds a little more SEO for the Google bots to soak up and helps your posts get to the top of the Google search results. But it can make the permalink or URL of the posts very long if you use the recommended postname in the permalink structure.

Permalink Settings

The above image is an example of using the “category” and “postname” in the permalink structure. The postname part is going to pick up the actual post title. To check your permalink structure go to Settings >> Permalinks. If you are using the postname which is the actual title of the post in the WordPress permalink structure and tend to write long post titles, you may want to shorten the permalink. First I recommend using a post title that is as short as possible while still accurately describing the post content. Leave out the fluff and get to the point of the post. While writing the post, you have the option to specify what was once called the post slug in previous versions of WordPress and is now just called the Permalink.

In the write post or edit post screen, you will see an option between the title box and the content box. Simply click the Edit button to shorten the trailing permalink. I suggest just a few very targeted keywords and try to keep out filler words like “the”, “if”, “an”, well you get the idea. If using the category in the permalink structure, I also suggest keeping them as short as possible and using only one per post. Remember you want to target your content to exactly what it’s about and more importantly what the person is searching for and typing into the search engine.

This post is an example of what I am trying to explain; notice the actual title: “The Complete Guide To WordPress Permalinks Structure” but look at the URL in the address bar. You will see that I took out the “The Complete Guide To” part but still got in the main part of the content of the post. Is this necessary? No, but it helps make your blog a little more search engine friendly and orderly.

Caution! Before you head over to your WordPress blog and change all your existing posts permalinks you will be changing the actual URL and lose any links that are on other sites pointing back to them, this includes any social bookmarking sites that you or others may have saved.

Adding subcategories to a WordPress blog is quite easy, or as it is referred to in the dashboard: You might have a category, and under that have children categories. A child category is created by adding a category to a “parent category”. That is an easy way to keep your WordPress blog organized and easy to navigate.

If you use the /%category%/ in your Permalink structure consider that any change of, or deletion of a WordPress category will also alter the URL of any posts made within that category. Even if you make an old parent category a child category! You are not going to lose your post, but any links from other sites pointing to that URL will be broken because the change of the URL made by altering or deleting the category the post was in. So some careful consideration should be taken when creating categories, so you don’t need to make future changes.

Another consideration when using /%category%/ in the permalink structure are the length of the categories you create. Long categories can lead to long post slugs or URLs. The temptation to just start adding categories based on what you think you may be blogging about should also be avoided. So before you start making tons of categories and subcategories, you should also consider the length of the category name and hierarchy.

If you plan on using Parent categories and placing categories under them consider what direction your blog will eventually lead to. An example would be using Web Traffic as a Parent category and then add more focused categories under it like Pay Per Click, Traffic Exchanges, and Link Exchanges.

For SEO Friendly Permalinks, you have to include the post name and/or category name in the permalinks. Because this type of URI is already loaded with your keywords, it has an immediate advantage over the ?p=29 version. It is also more readable to human visitors. It’s easier for them to remember the link or to read it out over the phone.
To configure the structure of your permalink, from the administration pages, click Settings, then Permalinks. The Edit Permalink Structure page allows you to configure the structure of your permalink URIs, as shown bellow.

Choose a permalink structure that you feel comfortable with and that fits your blog. The suggestions made by WordPress works well, especially the following structure:

/%year%/%monthnum%/%day%/%postname%/
and
%category%/%postname%/

If your site has mostly chronological entries, this format makes lots of sense. As a bonus, these URLs truncate, which means that someone visiting a URL containing just the year and month will receive all posts for that month.

If your site isn’t ordered chronologically and has a flat structure, then a permalink structure of /archives/%postname% might be more appropriate, but be sure to keep the post titles
unique! These features rely on using Apache as your web server and having a feature of Apache called mod_rewrite enabled on your site. If you don’t have mod_rewrite or Apache, you can put
a filename in the URL, like this:
/index.php/%year%/%monthnum%/%day%/%postname%/
And it will still work under some circumstances. You can also set up a prefix for your category links; /topic/ is a reasonable alternative.

Choosing the right permalink structure for your website is crucial for long time success and to avoid any future troubles. You have to brainstorm the main idea of your site to select the right type of permalinks structure. Here we usually classified different types of websites with permalinks considerations.

  1. News Sites
  2. Blog Sites
  3. Coupon/Deal Sites
  4. How To Sites

Wrapping Up

WordPress Permalinks Structure is easy to modify and understand. The real beauty of WordPress is its ease of use and flexibility. Once you selected a permalink structure, you can change it site-wide in the future within minutes by changing a single setting, and all the posts/pages permalinks got updated. All you have to take care of the redirection of permalinks, so those old URLs will redirect to the new URLs, and you don’t lose any SEO value. This is not difficult as well using Regex and Redirection Plugins. Hope, you got a general idea how you can manage your permalinks better in WordPress that will add more SEO value and are user-friendly.

Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff at WPArena is a team of WordPress experts led by Jazib Zaman. Page maintained by Jazib Zaman.

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