What Are Permalinks & Why They Are Important To Your WordPress Website?

If you have a WordPress website you will have probably seen people talking about permalinks.  So what the hell are permalinks and why are they important to your website?

WHAT ARE PERMALINKS?

Permalinks are basically the URLs of the pages and posts on your blog or WordPress website.

Whenever you publish new content to your website a unique link (permalink) to each new post or page is created. WordPress automatically creates this for you based on your settings and the title added to the post or page.

However, the default permalink settings are normally not the most aesthetically pleasing option or the best for SEO.

The default permalink structure on WordPress includes:-

  • Plain – https://www.wildflowersandpixels.co.uk/?p=123
  • Day and name – https://www.wildflowersandpixels.co.uk/2016/05/13/my-post-title-name/
  • Month and name – http://www.wildflowersandpixels.co.uk/2016/05/my-post-title-name/
  • Post name – https://www.wildflowersandpixels.co.uk/my-post-title-name/

As you can see from the options above they either don’t make much sense or can be a little long-winded.

In previous versions, WordPress selected the ‘plain’ option when you first set up your blog – this contained your domain name along with a number. The number being the location of the post on your website database. But in recent versions of WordPress the default permalink has been set up ‘post name’.

WHAT IS THE BEST PERMALINK SETUP?

Depending on who you ask everyone has a differing opinion on the best permalink setup to use. Personally, I always use ‘post name’ for my own and client websites. I feel this is the most user-friendly option as it is short and includes the post name making it the prettiest.

Although using the day, month and name in the link is also a good option as it contains the post name in the URL. These permalinks are particularly good for large websites that post a lot of articles or if the content is time sensitive.

The only one I would not recommend you use is the ‘plain’ setting. The big issue of the plain settings is that it’s not user or SEO-friendly. For example, your URL would be something like www.mydomainname.com/?p=20343 instead of www.mydomainname.com/my-post-name.

HOW TO CHANGE YOUR PERMALINK SETTINGS

You can view and change the settings of your permalinks by going to ‘settings > permalinks’.

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If you do make a change to your permalink settings, it’s important to note that all your URLs will change.To prevent generating 404 errors from referring links or search engines you will need to set up 301 redirects for all old links. You can do this easily using a plugin like ‘Redirection‘.

This is why I recommend that you set your permalink structure right from the start to avoid having to redirect old links in future.

CHANGING THE PERMALINKS ON POSTS AND PAGES

Along with the general permalink URL structure settings discussed above, you can also edit the permalinks on individual posts and pages. This is a brilliant feature as it allows you to carefully construct your URL to be super friendly for your readers and search engines.

On each post, you will see the permalink under the title box. The permalink is generated for you when you enter the post title. You can change the auto-generated link by clicking the ‘edit’ button next to the link.

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For this post, the permalink was set to www.wildflowersandpixels.co.uk/what-are-permalinks-why-they-are-important-to-your-wordpress-website/. A bit of a mouthful isn’t it?

Before posting I edited the link to the main keywords for the post making it www.wildflowersandpixels.co.uk/what-are-wordpress-permalinks/ instead.  This ensures the URL is short and good for SEO as it still contains the keywords for what the post is about.

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