This is a guest contribution from Richard Richsh.
WordPress is the most preferred platform by many beginners and developers across the globe for its ease of use. Many websites today are built on WordPress, and there are many ways by which you can increase your WordPress website’s ranking using SEO – one of these ways is to pay attention to your permalinks.
This article will surely help those who have been struggling to choose the right URL structure, as I’ll discuss the best options for you and your site. You can take it from here!
What is a Permalink?
Permalinks, or permanent links, are URLs to individual pages and posts, as well as category and tag archives on your website. They never change and are a permanent web address used to link to your content.
People enter these permalinks into their browser address bar to view one of your pages. Even the search engines and other websites use permalinks to link to your website – so, you can understand how important they are.
Therefore, when you install WordPress and start using it for your blog or website, it is essential that you choose the correct permalink while setting up. You can change it later, but it does tend to be a bit more involved!
Depending on your default permalink, you may not actually have to change it to have your blog go the extra mile to be SEO-friendly.
Let us see how permalinks work in WordPress:
Permalinks in WordPress
There are three basic types of permalinks that are available for WordPress:
1. “Ugly” Permalinks
When you do not change your URL, then this is the default permalink which is followed by query string identifying the relevant post ID, for e.g. http://www.example.com/?p=138. This type of format is not readable to humans as it contains numbers which doesn’t convey any meaning, so therefore the name “ugly”.
2. Almost-Pretty Permalinks
They are a slight improvement to ugly permalinks. They include index.php after the domain name followed by specific identifiers relating to a post, for e.g. http://www.example.com/index.php/yyyy/mm/dd/post-name/
3. Pretty Permalinks
This type of links is used by majority of sites including WordPress sites (and ProBlogger). In this, the domain name is followed by a clean string of identifiers targeting the individual post, for e.g. http://www.example.com/2106/01/01/first-post/, or http://www.example.com/post-name/
Best WordPress Permalink Structure
WordPress offers you the ability to create a custom URL structure for your permalinks and archives. There are six options to select from:
- Plain: – This is the default setting or the ugly permalink, for e.g. http://domain-name.com/?p=123. This type of permalink should never be used.
- Day and name: – This uses a year/month/date format followed by your post’s name. For e.g. http://domain-name.com/2016/01.01/sample-post. This type of permalink is mainly used for news articles to tell when particular news was published. They have keywords relating to your article as the post name.
- Month and name: – This is the same as above only without date. For e.g. http://domain-name.com/2016/01/sample-post. This type of permalink is used for blogs like the Google’s Blogger.com. It is ideal for tech and news blogs etc.
- Numeric: – This option just uses the ID of the post from the row in the wp_posts table of your database. For e.g. http://domain-name.com/archives/123. The use of this type of permalink is never recommended as doesn’t convey any message or have any keyword that shows user or Google what topic the post is about.
- Post name: – This one uses the name of your post. For e.g. http://domain-name.com/sample-post. Now this one has your post name. It may not differentiate between a post permalink and a page permalink but still it may convey the search engines and the users what topic your post is related to.
- Custom Structure: – This permalink allows you to define your own structure using the full set of structure tags available in WordPress. Here you can experiment with different permalink structure tags. Having a category tag between your domain name and post name will help to keep your permalink organized. You can use post name, category, tag, year, month, date, etc structure. This type of permalink is considered to be SEO friendly and have a higher visibility.
Creating Custom Permalinks
WordPress offers you 10 different structure tags for defining you own custom permalink structure. The most commonly used URLs are listed below:
- %postname%: This is your post’s slug.
- %post_id%: This your post’s unique ID.
- %category%: The main category of your post.
- %year%: The year of the post. It helps in identifying the year a particular post was published.
- %monthnum%: The month a post was published.
- %day%: The date on which a particular post was published.
- %author%: This helps in identifying the author of the particular post. It is useful when there are multi-author, magazine type environments.
In case you wish to be more specific about your posts they are tags that you can use Such as the %hour%, %minute% and %second% tags. It is based on user’s interest if he/she wants to use these tags but these are the lesser used tags and wouldn’t actually of much use.
But one thing you should keep in mind while defining your custom permalink structure is that you need to include at least one of these, your %postname% or the %post_id% in order for WordPress to be able to target a specific post. These are the most important tags that will guarantee you unique identifiers and greater visibility on the search results. Utilizing both these tags, you can use /%id%/%postname%/.
SEO Friendly Permalinks
Your permalink and link structure is very important from an SEO point of view. Going by Google’s guidelines on URL structure, it is absolutely straightforward: keep it as simple as possible, and intelligible to humans. When a user types a query on Google, he/she is given four different pieces of information such as the title, date, description and the permalink.
These details help user to decide if the post contains the content that they are searching for. The best SEO practices involve the following:
- Keep URL short – ideally under 100 characters.
- Use keywords in the URLs, but don’t overuse or stuff them.
- Remove dynamic properties where possible.
- Use hyphens as separator and avoid using words like and, or, but, of, the.
So, in this post we have summed up how you can have the best permalink structure for your site.
Getting your permalink structure is the first step you need to take while setting up your blog or website on WordPress. From what we have seen from the SEO perspective, it is advisable to include and use pretty permalinks and avoid the default or the ugly permalinks, to be readable by humans.
As far as figuring out what is an ideal permalink structure for a WordPress is then it totally depends on what the content is. Having your post name and category helps to keep it in well-defined format and is beneficial from the search engine and user point of view. You can also consider using the WP Category Permalink plugin.
What are your thoughts? What is the permalink structure on your blog?
Richard Richsh blogs at Selected Hosting, holds a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Systems Networking and Telecommunications and has a substantial experience in Network and Sever Management. Besides technology he loves photography and travelling.
Nice breakdown. Using plug ins – not sure which I use but it works well – remotes the a’s, the’s, to’s and other SEO unfriendly words from permalinks automatically. Just published a post 4 minutes ago. I forgot to create a short, sweet permalink but since my short words were automatically removed it looks A-OK. I find super short permalinks work best. Even for SEO purposes. Because Google seems to favor short and sweet permalinks for some reason, even for long tail keywords. Go figure. Which is why I rarely try to figure Google ;)
I am brand new to blogging, and only found out yesterday how to change my permalink structure. Starting a blog can be daunting and the massive amount of information is mind boggling. Thank you for giving me just the right amount of straight forward info. Wish I had found this yesterday – would have freed up hours of unnecessary sifting through & reading.
Thanks for this. I didn’t realize there are so many options you can use. I’ve always used the post_name structure as my site is focused on SEO.
I guess i’m a bit surprised that Problogger doesn’t include a date stamp with the number of articles that are on here, so there is no duplication, and for tracking purposes. This is what Neil Patel does on quicksprout.
When i change Facebook share link, it will become error 404 , seem nothing can do of this. Any idea?
Setting the permalinks for the better SEO is one of the major steps for your blog. The custom permalinks are what I prefer.
Though showing the post name in the URL is the best, but if you want to use anything else then it may vary the SEO factor.
Thanks for sharing this information with us.
I also agree with what ravi has said in his comment. I also prefer to use custome permalinks for my blog. It makes url looks clean and easy to understand.
Learned lots of new things about permalinks this morning. Thank you , your articles are always well thought out and packed with information.
Hello Richard, Nice information on very basic but very important topic of website development and SEO. It’s really important that a developer must have knowledge of custom permalink and when the website is in development phase, they ensure that the website must use custom permalink which is SEO friendly. I think if you are a blogger, It would be best to include month and year with your blog title in the custom permalink.
It will help the user to understand the time when the post is made live. Some posts like seo checklist for 2015 and seo checklist for 2016 can confused the user if the year and month is not mentioned in the URL.
Thanks for the detailed information.
I learned that permalinks has a lot to do with SEO. Would it be better to keep the entire post name in the permalink or can it be just for the focus keywords? I don’t prefer the date plus postname because having numbers in the structure doesn’t seem professional to me.
Thank you very much for the information. Very helpful.
Permalinks are an important part of our blog. It is important to set them up properly at the start so we don’t risk loosing any search engine ranking or shares for our posts. If our blog is established and is getting search engine traffic, it may not be worth it to change our permalinks as we could loose those rankings.
A good permalink structure should have the name of our post in it and should not be hard to read. The first thing we should do if we are using WordPress is set up WordPress permalink structure. It is generally best to keep it clean. Consider using only postname. From an SEO and performance perspective, it’s best not to use the default ugly permalink settings and instead opt for a pretty permalink structure that is humanly readable. It’s also important to keep Google’s URL guides in mind when setting slugs for our site and when editing URLs for posts and pages. Eventually, thanks for sharing your worthy thought with us.
With best regards,
Thank Richard ! Good Tips and well explained.
For me, I always keep my permalink short for each post and stick to “Post name” format.
How many should be follow & do follow permalinks in a post? This was a nice read
I thought that I read in a recent blog post, perhaps even here that Google adds to the end of the permalink the name of the site.
I have a WordPress site and it appears that it shows that no matter how I change the setting for the permalinks.
Google doesn’t add to the permalink, but sometimes adds the site name to the web page title.
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I personally think this detracts from the search result, but AFAIK there is no way to stop Google doing this.
In my opinion, it depends on each user, because there are some URL structures you can use, not only one.
I often use /%post_id%/%post_name%/ as it’s good for me, based on my experience and results. I also always recommend users to use this structure as well as keep URL as short as possible.
What do you do when you want to change your permalink structure? I started with Day and Name and want to switch to just Name. I’ve tried a couple of WordPress plugins that are supposed to redirect, but they work only if I enter each post URL manually. With 4 years worth of content, that’s a lot of URLs. Any suggestions? Thanks.
Thanks. I had initially set up with the post name, but just went in and created custom links with the category and author. Since I currently have three posts live, nothing lost right now! Once we have the site set up, I have other writers who will be contributing so this will definitely be a long-term benefit.
I have been doing SEO for a long time. The best permalink structure i have got is %postname%.
Some few tips: 1. Use youe exact match keyword 2. URL should be short and keyword rich.
Nice article written by the way.
This article was the best explanation on permalinks, I have seen it on wordpress but had no idea on what it was, thanks for explaining it well and making it simple.
I’m using %postname% in my blog’s URL since I have read it’s benefit in your blog’s articles.
Nice post and well explained, it is a very beneficial message for me.