Beginner’s guide to WordPress permalinks

The WordPress Permalinks structure plays a vital role in Search Engine Optimization. For better SEO, you need to keep your link structure readable, short, and meaningful. Conversely, when it comes to the link structure of a site, Google may drop your site from the search ranking.

Every resource on the Internet has a Hyperlink, URL, or Permalink. It means that every Internet page or resource is accessible at a specified Hyperlink, URL, or Permalink.

With that in mind, here is a simple definition:

The Hyperlink, Uniform Resource Locator (URL), or Permanent Link (Permalink) is the address of an Internet resource, webpage or website. An example of the permalinks would be www.example.com or example.com.

In today’s write-up, let’s explore the WordPress Permalinks. As a web admin or SEO expert, you need to create SEO friendly permalinks. This article helps you know about WordPress Permalinks, how to change, test, and use them for improving your site’s SEO.

Unlike static websites which contain unchangeable hyperlinks, WordPress provides changing the link structure of your site. You can change your site’s link structure from the WordPress Dashboard settings.

Introduction to WordPress permalinks

There are six permalink types in the WordPress. In the WordPress Dashboard, by clicking on Permalinks in Settings menu, you can see the WordPress Permalink’s page.

wordpress permalinks visual composer blog

By default, the WordPress uses Plain permalink type. However, you can choose the one you like, and click on the Save Changes at the end.

If you go for the default type, your site’s permalink structure may look like the Database Driven websites which contain values from the database. On the other hand, most Content Management Systems keep their content in the folder format, by date and time, month or the post name.

Permalink types in WordPress

1. Plain
It is the default permalink structure in the WordPress. If you prefer the default one, your site’s links contain digits and special characters.
http://www.yoursiteaddress.com/?p=123

2. Day and name
Along with the title of the post, this structure contains the exact date of the published post.
http://www.yoursiteaddress.com/2018/11/27/sample-post/

3. Month and name
Like the previous type, this structure outlines the month and post name. By looking at the Day and name type, one can see the exact date of the published content, where Month and name structure provides the month of the published posts.
http://www.yoursiteaddress.com/2018/11/sample-post/

4. Numeric
Unlike the Plain format, this structure does not have special characters in the format. In Numeric, the word archive is placed after root, along with the number of the post.
http://www.yoursiteaddress.com/archives/123

5. Post name
In this format, you can see the post title at the end of the link. The title’s words are separated with the Hyphens which show the meaning of the post content.
http://www.yoursiteaddress.com/post-name/

6. Custom structure
Custom is the favorite structure of Bloggers and SEO specialists. Along with the post name, it provides an arrangement of the content under different categories.
http://www.yoursiteaddress.com/category/postname/
http://www.yoursiteaddress.com/articles/wordpress-wiki/

How does permalink structure affect SEO?

Search engines love meaningful hyperlinks. By meaningful, I mean the one that explains the content of a page.

In WordPress, you can go for the two permalink types, Post name and Custom structure. These two contain the page title’s words in the structure and the name of category for SEO signals to Search engines.

Moreover, let’s explore the facts that affect SEO regarding Permalink structure.

  • Go for the short URLs. When creating slugs in WordPress, you can include the focus keyword in the link. Consider http://www.yoursiteaddress.com/post-name/ instead of http://www.yoursiteaddress.com/articles/blogposts/sample-post/
  • Prefer Readable URLs. Like humans, Google also prefers readable, meaningful, and sweet URL structures. For example: http://www.yoursiteaddress.com/wordpress-page-builders-explained/ instead of http://www.yoursiteaddress.com/?p=2435
  • Include keywords in the URLs. Not only this helps in SEO but also keeps your site’s content under relevant categories. For the purpose, if you create content about Keyword Research, your link should contain the phrase. For example: http://www.yoursiteaddress.com/keyword-research/
  • Make use of the Hyphens instead of Underscores. Use http://www.yoursiteaddress.com/sample-post/ instead of http://www.yoursiteaddress.com/sample_post/
  • Don’t keep your content under several folders. It may affect your content structure, SEO, and the way Google reads your site structure. For the purpose, consider using http://www.yoursiteaddress.com/sample-post/ instead of http://www.yoursiteaddress.com/articles/blog/january/sample-post/

Search engine’s favorite permalink structure

When crawling a site, search engines try to know a site’s link structure. In this case, categories play an important role in arranging site’s content under various folders.

For example, take Health and Fitness as the main niche of a site. For the mentioned niche, you can create categories including diet, exercise, and running. Once created, you can keep the content under relevant categories.

With that clarified, WordPress’ Custom Structure helps you arrange content under relevant categories. This helps search engines to understand your site’s link structure correctly.

The best permalink structure in WordPress

Finally, we came to know about WordPress URL structures and their SEO impacts. Out of all in the WordPress, go for the Custom Structure that contains the post and category name in the format.

After you choose the Custom structure on the WordPress Permalink’s page, you can assign a single category to each post, and the WordPress will create hyperlinks in the following format.

https://www.yoursiteaddress.com/categoryname/postname

In this case, if you create a post with a title best Android apps, and assign the apps category to it, the WordPress will generate the following URL structure for the post.

http://www.yoursiteaddress.com/apps/best-android-apps

Now, let’s proceed to create categories in the WordPress.

In the WordPress Dashboard, point at the Posts in the left panel and choose Categories.

On the next page, you can create new categories. Enter a title name for the new category, slug, and description if you want. In the end, click on the Add New Category button.

After you create Categories, you can assign them to posts when creating New Posts.

wordpress assign categories to posts

How to change and test the WordPress permalinks?

On the Permalinks page, you can change the link structure for your site.

Step 1
In the WordPress Dashboard, point at the Settings and select Permalinks. The next page shows the Permalink types in the WordPress. You can change its structure by clicking on the Radio buttons and Save Changes at the end.

Step 2
After you change the structure, you can browse to published content and see the changes. If for example, your site has no content at all, you can proceed to create a new post by pointing at the Posts on the left panel, and choose the Add New from the menu.

Step 3
On the next page, enter the title for the new post. Once you start entering the body text, you can see the slug or hyperlink for the new post.

wordpress sample post

This way, you can quickly test your permalink styles after making necessary changes.

WordPress permalinks best practices

To make most out of the WordPress permalinks and their SEO complications, consider the following best practices:

  • Before you move or rebuild your site, always backup your site.
  • Choose and finalize your permalink structure right after building your WordPress website.
  • If you decide to rename or redirect a link on your site, make sure to use the Redirection in the wordpress.
  • Create relevant categories and choose the Custom Structure for the permalinks. It will help you arrange your site’s content under relevant categories. It also boosts your SEO in the eyes of search engines.
  • Always include the focus keywords in the WordPress URLs. For the same purpose, you can install the Yoast SEO plugin for improved search engine optimization.

Common FAQs about WordPress permalinks

What are WordPress permalinks?
The WordPress Permalinks refer to Permanent Hyperlinks in the WordPress. As you create content in a WordPress site, it creates Permalinks automatically.

How to change WordPress permalinks?
By choosing Permalinks from Settings menu on the left panel, you can change the WordPress Permalinks.

Which permalink style you should choose for the SEO?
For better SEO, you can go for the Custom Structure. It contains a post name with a category to give to right SEO signal to search engines.

Does permalink structure affect SEO?
Yes. The more you make your link structure meaningful, the more you improve your site’s SEO.

Can you change your permalink structure over time?
Yes. But not recommended. In case you need to change your link structure over time, make sure to backup your WordPress site.

Final thoughts

In WordPress, you can change the structure of your site’s hyperlinks.

After you create your WordPress website, you can change your Permalink structure and proceed to create content. However, once you set a link type, don’t change after you create content for SEO.

Most importantly, you should choose the Custom Structure for improved SEO. Make sure you create relevant categories and proceed to use the Custom type when creating New Posts in the WordPress.

Let us know about your thoughts about WordPress Permalinks and the ways you can use Permalinks for improved Search Engine Optimization.

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6 comments

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