Permalinks are the actual digital addresses of your content on the website. It’s how search engines link to your content and how others will find your webpages. The address itself is a permanent link that shouldn’t change. However, WordPress gives you the ability to create custom permalinks in order to fit marketing strategies or improve search engine optimization. Once created, these links retain their structure regardless of what content you put into the webpage. It’s best if this is done before the website becomes too popular. You don’t want too many inbound links that become broken because you changed the address layout.
Why You Might Want to Change Your Permalinks
There are many reasons why anyone would want to change the way a webpage looks on the Internet. From simplicity to more practical marketing purposes, you can change custom permalinks to address a wide scope of needs. Here are some of the more common reasons developers use to justify these changes:
Search engine optimization is one of the most common reasons why you would want to alter the permalink. Most of these platforms connect your content to the address of the page itself. Although the content can still be crawled for keywords if you use plain address such as: “http://sample.com/?p=789,” the name of the post could be greatly beneficial. Search engines such as Google will also crawl the address for specific keywords. An example of this would be: “http://sample.com/how-to-make-chicken-soup.” This kind of a structure would be better suited if someone was researching chicken or soup.
Changing the overall layout of permalinks can also help prevent against duplicating links in the system. To avoid this, many will include the date and name of the post in the permalink. If the same title of the article is used in the future, it can still be separated from the original by the date itself.
Some developers will use a simple method of linking their content. This could provide assistance in keeping addresses easy to find and read. However, this is usually more of a cosmetic change in order to make the site look more unique to the outside world.
How to Change the Permalinks of Your Pages
Changing the way WordPress uses permalinks is quite a simple process. In fact, you won’t need to install any plugins to do this. To access the settings for permalinks:
- Go to the “Settings” section of your WordPress dashboard
- One the left side of the dashboard under the “Settings” control, you should see one for “Permalinks.” This is what you should click.
- Select the method you want to use and click the “Save Changes” button.
WordPress will automatically make the adjustments to your pages and post. This means you will not have to do anything more if you want the content to be saved a certain way.
Using Tags in Custom Structure
The “Custom Structure” located in the permalink settings page allows you to set up a more detailed method to create addresses. For example, you could include author names or even the precise time for each new post. The tags you can use include:
To use these tags, you need to select the “Custom Structure” radio button. After the domain’s address, you enter in each tag you want to include with a “/” in between. Here is an example:
This would show the author’s name, the number of the month, the day, the current year and the name of the post. For instance, it could look like: “http://sample.com/john_doe/12/25/2015/have-a-merry-christmas.”
What Are the Slugs in WordPress?
A slug is the SEO-friendly name of a post, page, category or tag in WordPress. This slug is created automatically by the system when you create a new piece of content. Often times, WordPress will take the name of a post or page and simply replace the empty spaces between words with dashes. This is to make it more accessible by search engines and provide an easy method to identify the webpages. If you decide to change the slug, make sure you use keywords that are both common for search criteria and included in the content. Otherwise, your site could be penalized by search engines.
Permalinks can be a vital part of SEO practices depending on what you’re trying to accomplish. It can be an excellent way to keep your content organized and easy to find. Select custom permalinks that best fit your strategies. You never know just how changing the structure can affect the number of visitors you see in any given month.
How would you set up permalinks on your website? Do you use a convoluted structure or do you keep things pretty basic?
Author: Josh Dargie
My name is Josh Dargie and I’m the Operations Manager at GreenGeeks. I’ve been with the company since 2009. I have over 16 years of experience working with and for various web hosting providers specifically in development, day-to-day operations and customer service.