In the early days, all hyperlinks were permalinks since content was static. However, since the rise of blogging and dynamic web pages, permalinks, or permanent links, usually refer to the web address of a single blog post. Because a blog post is a permanent thing (the content may change but the URL doesn’t), it is very important for SEO, usability, and memory recall to make sure the permalink structure is set up correctly on your WordPress blog — this should be the first thing you do after installing WordPress and never altered — let’s look at our options…
“Ugly Permalinks” and “Pretty Permalinks”
First, let’s navigate to the correct page in your WordPress admin (Settings > Permalinks). Right off the bat you’ll notice that WordPress has automatically chosen the Default setting under Common settings.
A “ugly permalink” looks like this:
It beats the hell out me why anyone would want to use this (unless you have your site privacy setting selected to block search engines and need a way to numerically keep track of posts…but even then,
http://example.com/%post_id%/ would be better…I digress).
A “pretty permalink” looks like this:
Why Choose a “Pretty Permalink”?
It’s amazing how many people don’t pay attention to the details. This goes double for anyone attempting to “make money online blogging” who still can’t even get the basics down. Here are some persuasive reasons to get your permalink structure solid.
- Search Engines like Google and Bing love pretty things. They are materialistic and we must play to their likes for SEO purposes.
- Good link structure screams “professional” and isn’t that what we all yearn for? To be a pro.
- Usability. I can remember a post on your site called
http://example.com/how-to-fart-silently/but if it’s called
http://example.com/?p=6782348I may not be able to find it if I need it. How embarrassing.
What Makes A Good Permalink
The more you write, the better you’ll become at optimizing your link structures. Here are a couple points to keep in mind.
- Use Keywords. If you’re writing a post about “how to walk on water” then a permalink like this:
http://example.com/i-am-jesus-suckers/is probably not as good as,
http://example.com/how-to-walk-on-water/…although it would catch my attention.
- Make it Short. Try to eliminate all filler words (at, in, the, if, etc.) and don’t keyword stuff.
This is bad:
This is good:
The Best Permalink Structures for SEO
Highly contested, rarely backed up. In other words, take this with a grain of salt as they’re all pretty good. If you’re still on your Permalink settings page, which you should be, just select Custom Structure and enter in the following to achieve your desired outcome. These are my top 4 choices:
/%postname%/) — This is probably the most popular because it’s simple, short, and to the point.
/%category%/%postname%/) — This is better for large blogs because it helps with the organization of posts. It also makes things very clear; it’s what I use here on Designpx.
/%postname%/%post_id%) — This is arguably the best SEO option because adding the post ID will make the URL of the post completely unique.
/%category%/%postname%/%post_id%) — Same as above but adds a category for better organization.
Options 1 and 2 are my favorite. I use them on 95% of the sites I create simply because I’m a man of aesthetics and random numbers bother me.
Have to Change Your Permalink Structure? Be Careful.
Once you have chosen a permalink structure it’s a royal pain when changed; all your links will suddenly be broken. If someone linked to your blog using
http://example.com/help-im-hungry/ and you decide to change your link structure to
http://example.com/complaints/help-im-hungry/ then anyone clicking on that link will get an Error 404 page, including Search Engines. You don’t want that to happen — broken links = no traffic = no sales = no food = dead — it’s a terrible cycle.
- You can find more options for fine-tuning your permalinks in the WordPress Codex.
- Optimizing WordPress Permalinks from digwp.com.
- There is a great WordPress plugin called Redirection that helps you manage 301 redirections in case you need to change your permalinks structure.
This is beginner stuff but often overlooked. It can mean the loss of a SERP position or the turning away of a potential customer/reader/client so it’s worth paying attention to. At the very least your link structure should contain the name of your post.