WordPress Permalinks Guide

Introduction

Ever wonder why some URLs look clean and snappy while others are a mess? Are you ready to turn those URLs into, SEO-friendly pathways? In this blog post, We will unpack everything you need to know about WordPress permalinks.

Permalinks are your gateway to better visibility and a smoother user experience on your WordPress site. They’re not just vital for boosting your SEO but are also key to providing a better experience for your visitors.

What Are the WordPress Permalinks and how to change them?

Permalinks, short for permanent links, are the URLs that link directly to your WordPress posts, pages, categories, and other archived pages. A good permalink structure is crucial for SEO as it helps search engines understand the content and context of your pages. Additionally, a clean and descriptive permalink improves the user experience by making your URLs easier to read and remember.

Changing your permalink structure in WordPress is simple. Here’s how:

  1. Log in to your WordPress Dashboard: Go to http://yourdomain.com/wp-admin.
  2. Navigate to Settings > Permalinks: This will take you to the Permalinks Settings page.
  3. Choose Your Permalink Structure: Select one of the predefined structures or create your custom structure.

But before making our new permalinks structure decision we should get to know our options better.

Default WordPress Permalinks Structures

The plain (default) permalink structure is easy to implement and ensures compatibility but it is not ideal for modern SEO practices or user experience. That is why we recommend transitioning to a more descriptive permalink structure that can provide significant benefits in terms of search engine visibility and user engagement.

Let’s dive into all structures with their pros and cons.

1. plain permalinks structure.

https://yourdomain.com/?p=123
  • Description: The “Plain” permalink structure in WordPress is the default URL format that the platform uses if no other option is selected.
    Pros: Simple and quick setup.
  • Cons: Not user-friendly or SEO-friendly as it does not describe the content of the page.

2. Day and Name permalinks structure.

https://yourdomain.com/2024/05/13/sample-post/
  • Description: This structure includes the year, month, day, and post name.
  • Pros: Good for time-sensitive content, like news or blogs with frequent updates.
  • Cons: URLs can become lengthy and less readable. Over time, older posts might seem outdated.

    3. Month and name permalinks structure.
https://yourdomain.com/2024/05/sample-post/
  • Description: This structure includes the year, month, and post name.
  • Pros: Still useful for time-sensitive content, but slightly shorter than the Day and Name structure.
  • Cons: Similar to the Day and Name structure, older posts might seem outdated and URLs can be long.

    4. Numeric permalinks structure.
https://yourdomain.com/archives/123
  • Description: This uses the word “archives” followed by the post ID.
  • Pros: Simple and avoids date-specific URLs.
  • Cons: Not user-friendly or SEO-friendly as it does not describe the content of the page.

5. Post name permalinks structure.

https://yourdomain.com/sample-post/
  • Description: This structure uses just the post name.
  • Pros: Very SEO-friendly and user-friendly, making the content easily identifiable and memorable.
  • Cons: Potential for URL conflicts if post names are not unique.

Custom Structures

  • Description: A custom permalink structure in WordPress allows users to define their own URL formats for posts and pages using a variety of available tags.
  • Pros: Highly flexible, can be tailored for maximum SEO benefit and user-friendliness.
  • Cons: Requires more setup and understanding of URL structures and SEO best practices.

Here is how such а structure would look like:

https://yourdomain.com//category/%postname%/

The example structure includes the category(%category%) and the post name(%postname%) in the URL, making it both SEO-friendly and user-friendly.

The custom permalinks can be created using specific structure tags. These tags pull dynamic information from your posts and pages to build the URL. Some of the most common tags include:

  • %day%: The day of the post, e.g., 13.
  • %monthnum%: The month of the post, e.g., 05
  • %category%: The category of the post.
  • %author%: The author of the post.
  • %post_id%: The unique ID of the post, e.g., 123.
  • and others.

Yes, but, Why does a good permalinks structure matter?

Implementing best practices for permalinks will contribute to better search engine rankings, higher click-through rates, and a stronger, more trustworthy brand presence online.

Let’s delve deeper into this with some examples for each reason.

  1. SEO: Search engines, like Google, consider URLs as one of the many factors when ranking pages. URLs that include relevant keywords can improve your page’s visibility in search engine results.

    Examples:
    Bad Permalink: www.yourdomain.com/p12345
    Good Permalink: www.yourdomain.com/healthy-recipes

    In the following examples Including relevant keywords in your URLs helps search engines understand the content of your pages, which can improve your rankings for those keywords.
  2. User Experience: A good user experience is the pinnacle of what we can achieve with addressing your website permalinks structure. A clean and descriptive URL structure also makes it easier for users to understand what the page is about at a glance. It also helps in sharing and remembering the URLs.

    Examples
    Bad Permalink: www.example.com/product/12345
    Good Permalink: www.example.com/product/wireless-headphones

    In the second example, users can easily identify that the page is about wireless headphones, enhancing their browsing experience. Users are also less likely to make mistakes when typing or sharing simple, clear URLs.
  3. Professional Appearance: A well-structured URL looks more professional and trustworthy. It can reflect the quality and of course the reliability the visitors will have for your WordPress website.

    Examples:
    Bad Permalink: www.example.com/index.php?id=42&sort=asc
    Good Permalink: www.example.com/services/website-design

    The second example appears more organized and intentional, giving a better impression of the site’s professionalism. With a consistent and well-structured URLs can reinforce your brand’s image and message. This will also build the needed trust in the users to preview your website pages.
  4. Avoiding Duplicate Content Issues:
    A consistent and logical URL structure helps prevent issues with duplicate content, which can negatively impact your SEO. Proper permalink structure ensures that each piece of content has a unique URL, reducing the risk of duplicate content penalties.
  5. Better Link Sharing and Social Media Engagement
    Simple and clear URLs are easier to share on social media and other platforms. This can lead to more traffic and engagement as users are more likely to share URLs that are not cluttered with unnecessary parameters​

Things to consider

Consistency: Ensure your URL structure remains consistent across your entire site. This not only maintains a uniform look and feel but also helps search engines and users navigate your content more efficiently. For instance, if you have chosen a specific structure for your blog posts, apply this format consistently to all blog entries to achieve a cohesive and professional appearance.

– Length: Keep URLs as short as possible while still being descriptive. Long URLs can be truncated in search results, which might reduce their effectiveness.

Use Hyphens (-) Instead of Underscores (_): Opt for hyphens instead of underscores in your URLs, as search engines interpret hyphens as word separators. This improves readability and indexing, making it easier for search engines to understand and rank your content effectively.

Avoid Stop Words: Words like “and,” “the,” and “of” can often be omitted without losing meaning.

Use Lowercase Letters: URLs are case-sensitive, and using lowercase can avoid confusion and potential 404 errors.

Handling Permalink Changes

If you need to change your permalink structure on an established site, be careful. Changing permalinks can result in broken links and 404 errors. Here’s how to handle permalink changes smoothly:

  1. Identify Internal Links:
    – Use plugins like Broken Link Checker or tools like Screaming Frog SEO Spider to identify all internal links on your site.
    – Generate a report of all pages and posts that contain internal links needing updates.

    2. Backup Your Site:
    – Always back up your WordPress site before making significant changes. To do that, please follow our step-by-step article on that topic here or reach out to our customer support at any time!

    3. Set Up Redirects:
    – Use a plugin like Redirection to set up 301 redirects from your old URLs to your new URLs. This preserves your SEO rankings and ensures users don’t encounter broken links. A good example of such a plugin can be found in the following link: https://wordpress.org/plugins/eps-301-redirects/

The impact

While exact figures can vary, some case studies and expert analyses suggest improvements in rankings and traffic can range from modest to significant:

Yoast provides detailed guidance on creating the ideal permalink structure for WordPress sites. They emphasize the importance of using a structure that includes keywords to enhance SEO and advise against using date-based URLs as they can make content appear outdated. Yoast also offers tips on setting up redirects if you decide to change your permalink structure, ensuring a seamless transition without losing SEO value.

A study highlighted by Beyond Blue Media points out that using an optimal permalink structure can improve crawlability and indexing efficiency, contributing to better overall SEO performance​.

Conclusion

Permalinks are a small but mighty part of your WordPress site. They play a critical role in SEO, user experience, and the overall professionalism of your site. By understanding and optimizing your permalink structure, you can significantly enhance your site’s performance and usability. Follow the tips in this guide to create clean, effective permalinks that benefit both your users and search engines.

By carefully setting up and maintaining your permalinks, you can ensure your WordPress site is both user-friendly and SEO-optimized.

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Dilyan Dimitrov
Dilyan Dimitrov

Dilyan Dimitrov, a dedicated quality control expert with more than five years of expertise in the area. He's the guy who ensures the quality of the technical support team lives up to expectations.

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