What Is a Permalink in WordPress? A Beginner Guide

Ever wondered what a permalink is in the context of WordPress?

Permalinks, or permanent links, are a fundamental aspect of any WordPress site, integral to both its structure and search engine optimization.

In this beginner’s guide, we will delve into what WordPress permalinks are, how they function in WordPress, and why they are crucial for your website’s online presence.

By the end of this guide, you’ll understand the concept of permalinks and how to effectively use them to benefit your WordPress site.

What is Permalink in WordPress?

A permalink in WordPress refers to the full URL that you see – and use – for any given post, page, or other piece of content on your site. It’s a permanent link, hence the name permalink. This URL is what allows your visitors to navigate to a specific piece of content on your website.

A permalink is made of three parts:

  • First, website domain
  • Second, path
  • Lastly, page slug

Below is a permalink example of one of your blog posts: https://www.pickupwp.com/blog/blog-seo/

Here’s the breakdown of the permalink structure:

  • Website domain name – https://www.pickupwp.com
  • Path – /blog
  • Page slug – /blog-seo/

A good permalink should be concise and to the point. Here are a few examples of bad permalinks:

  • https://www.yourdomain.com/how-to-start-a-blog-in-2024/
  • https://www.yourdomain.com/?p=123

These permalinks are either too long or don’t offer an idea of what the post or page is about.

What’s the Difference Between a Permalink and a URL?

A URL is a web address that directs to a specific website or file. It can include basically a domain name or a path, a slug, and other information, depending on the website you are accessing.

A permalink, on the other hand, is a specific URL structure — a tool used by bloggers for sharing and SEO purposes. However, every permalink is a URL; not every URL is a permalink.

Why Permalinks Are Important?

In WordPress, permalinks are important for several reasons:

  • Consistency: They provide a consistent URL structure for your content, which is important for user experience and for sharing your content.
  • SEO: Permalinks are crucial for search engine optimization (SEO). Having a clear, descriptive URL for each piece of content helps search engines understand and index your content, which can improve your site’s visibility in search results.
  • Customization: WordPress allows you to customize your permalinks. You can choose from several predefined structures or create custom URL structures, which can include specific elements like the post name, date, category, or post ID.
  • Management: They make it easier to manage your content. A descriptive permalink can give you and your visitors a good idea of what the content is about before even reaching the page.

How to Create a Custom Permalink in WordPress

WordPress’ default permalink structure is not SEO-friendly. It uses the post number structure from your website’s database in conjunction with the URL structure: https://www.yourdomain.com/?p=112.

If you want to use a custom permalink structure, all you need to do is change the permalink settings.

To do so, simply go to Settings » Permalinks from your WordPress admin dashboard.

From here, select Custom Structure under Common Settings and choose the %category% and %postname% tags. Feel free to choose the various other options based on the type of your website.

Permalink Settings in WordPress

Once all is done, click on the Save Changes button.

Now, your permalinks will show the category and post name instead of simply showing the archive number.

How to Change the Individual Permalinks for Posts/Pages

Once you’ve set up your overall permalink structure, you can go ahead and customize your individual posts and page permalinks.

If you’re using the Gutenberg WordPress editor, open the sidebar menu by clicking the Settings button in the top-right corner of the post. Now, scroll down to the Permalink section to edit the old URL Slug.

Permalink in WordPress Gutenberg Editor

If you’re using the Classic WordPress editor, the permalink preview can be found below the post or page title. To customize it, click the Edit button, enter the new slug, and click OK.

Permalink in WordPress Classic Editor

If you’ve customized the WordPress permalink settings, you might not have to modify every permalink manually. However, double-check your URL before posting the content in case you need to make any changes.

How to Change a Permalink Without Losing SEO?

If you decide to change a WordPress permalink, make sure to set up a 301 redirect. This notifies search engines that the page or blog post has been redirected to a new URL.

If the 301 redirects are not configured, your site will have missing URLs and broken permalinks. Users will leave your site if they find a broken link, resulting in a high bounce rate.

Search engines will also lower your site’s organic ranking since they do not want to direct users to an error message or a blank page. As a result, you lose your traffic and revenues from the site.

Furthermore, if your site has too many broken links, it may be penalized.

To avoid being penalized or losing your SEO ranking, you can use WordPress redirect plugins that can help you create 301 redirects.

How to Create SEO-Friendly Permalinks

Creating SEO-friendly permalinks is essential in optimizing your website for search engines and improving user experience. Here’s a guide to help you create effective permalinks:

  • Use a Clear, Descriptive Structure: Your permalink should give an idea of what the content is about. Include keywords that are relevant to the content of the page or post. For example, instead of using a generic link like www.yoursite.com/post123, use something descriptive like www.yoursite.com/seo-friendly-permalinks.
  • Keep It Short and Simple: While it’s important to be descriptive, you also want to keep your permalinks concise. Avoid using unnecessary words or characters. Shorter URLs are easier to read, copy, and share.
  • Include SEO Keywords: SEO keywords are search terms users type into a search engine’s search box. By including such phrases in your permalinks, you provide search engines with a strong hint about the content of a page, increasing your chances of ranking high for those keywords.
  • Use Hyphens to Separate Words: In a permalink, it’s standard practice to use hyphens (-) rather than underscores (_) to separate words. For example, use www.yoursite.com/seo-friendly-permalinks, not www.yoursite.com/seo_friendly_permalinks.
  • Avoid Using Dates: Unless your content is news or time-specific, avoiding dates in your permalinks is generally a good practice. Dates can make content seem outdated, even if it’s still relevant.
  • Use Lowercase Letters: URLs are case-sensitive. To avoid confusion and broken links, use lowercase letters in your permalinks.
  • Avoid Using Special Characters: Special characters can cause browser issues and are best avoided in permalinks.

By following these guidelines, you can create permalinks that are not only SEO-friendly but also user-friendly, making your site more accessible and easier to navigate.

Conclusion

In conclusion, understanding permalink in WordPress is vital for any beginner looking to establish a strong online presence. These permanent URLs are integral to your website’s structure, significantly impacting user experience and search engine optimization.

By learning how to customize and effectively use permalinks, you can ensure your content is easily accessible, shareable, and primed for better visibility in search results.

Remember, a well-crafted permalink guides your audience to the right content and plays a pivotal role in your website’s overall SEO strategy.

With this guide, you’re now equipped with the knowledge to leverage permalinks in WordPress, setting a solid foundation for your site’s success and longevity.

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