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How To Set Up And Use WordPress Permalinks

Wouldn’t it be great if after publishing a new page on your website, the following took place … just from your post address:

Well, this is what a permalink lets you do!

How To Set Up And Use WordPress Permalinks

Permalinks – What Are They?

Permalinks are the permanent URLs to an individual post, category, or other taxonomy (a way to organize things together) like archives.

A permalink is the URL that other people use to link to posts or sections of your site or the links you send in emails pointing to a particular item of content on your website. Permalinks are sometimes referred to as “pretty” URLs.

Permalinks make the URL pointing to each post on your site permanent, hence a perma-link.

Why Do You Need To Use Permalinks?

Hopefully, you are probably aware that, WordPress is one of the best CMS tools you can use when it comes to SEO.

WordPress is not only well optimized right out of the box, but there are SEO plugins you can install that can further help to fine tuned its SEO aspect.

If you are looking to optimize the SEO aspect of your website, then you cannot ignore the importance of your site’s URLs. Google tends to pay special attention to the URL structure of a site.

Permalinks are used to turn links on your site into “search engine friendly” URLs. Permalinks can also improve the aesthetics, usability, and forward-compatibility of your links.

Now … let’s see the reason why you should set up permalinks in WordPress.

Typically, a default WordPress installation uses a URL structure for your posts that isn’t search engine friendly and looks like this …

WordPress uses the link with a string query shown above to find data within its database. It doesn’t really mean much to anyone, and it doesn’t help your website with on-site search engine optimization.

As the screenshot taken directly from Google search results below shows, many WordPress users are still using out of the box settings when publishing content online …

Although these sites are getting their content indexed on search engines, the owners of these sites are missing out on extra SEO benefits.

To get more SEO benefit out of using WordPress and improve your site’s traffic results, you should set up your permalinks structure to make it more search engine-friendly by displaying relevant keywords in your URL, instead of meaningless numbers and symbols.

WordPress lets you create a custom URL structure for your published posts, so your content can easily go from something that is non-SEO friendly like this …

To something like this …

Out of the box, WordPress URLs are not very search engine-friendly. This tutorial shows you how to set up your permalinks in WordPress to display posts using search engine-friendly URLs.

Changing Your WordPress Permalinks

Log into your WordPress dashboard and select Settings > Permalinks

This will bring you to the Permalink Settings screen …

As mentioned earlier, by default WordPress web URLs use characters like question marks and numbers to create unique Post Ids and URLs. We want to create a search engine friendly URL instead for our posts. To do this, we will need to specify a different Permalink structure than the default.

Common Settings – Permalinks

In the Common Settings section, select Custom Structure, then add one or more ‘tags’ (see below) to create SEO-friendly URLs …

(Change your permalink settings to create search engine-friendly URLs)

If you use the custom permalink structure shown in the example above, your URL would look something like this:


Instead of this …


(Using permalinks helps search engines and visitors understand what the page is about)

Using Permalink Tags In Custom Structure

“Pretty” permalinks, or search engine-friendly URLs, are created by adding one or more ‘tags’ in the Custom Structure field:

Note: When using multiple tags, separate each tag using a ‘/’ (forward slash), or hyphen.

For a quick setup, choose the Custom Structure option, and enter the code below into the ‘Custom Structure’ field …

Or, use one of the following structures:

Tip: If you want search engine friendly URLs for your posts, but don’t want to use a custom permalink structure using tags, then choose Common Settings > Post name instead …

Choosing ‘Post name’ is the same as choosing ‘Custom Structure’ and adding the /%postname%/ tag.

Permalinks – Optional Settings

Here you can enter custom structures for your tag and category archive page URLs.

You can change the ‘base’ tag or category of your URLs using the following structure:

For example, changing your category base to “travel” will display your category links as ‘http://domain.com/travel/category_name/’.

So, if you add the following to your permalinks Optional > Category base settings section …

Your ‘category archives’ page URL will change from looking like this …

To something like this …

If you leave these fields blank the default settings will be used.

Remember to save any changes after you have finished …

Permalinks – Useful Tips

Sometimes, when you are creating a new post and haven’t given the content a post title yet, the WordPress Autosave feature will save your draft with an assigned numerical permalink (see the example URL in the screenshot below)  …

To fix this and give the post its proper permalink, go to ‘Edit Post’ …

Click on the ‘Edit’ button in the post slug section …

Select all content in the post slug field and delete it …

Click ‘OK’ …

The post slug entry will be replaced with the correct permalink based on your post title …

Here is a quick recap of the process …

Remember to update your post to save the changes …

Your permalink should now reflect the new post title …

Note also that when you change the URL of a published post, you should also create a redirect link

If you change your post title at a later date (e.g. you think of a more compelling post title or use a headline generator tool to help you come up with some killer post titles), remember to fix the permalink to match the new post title and add a redirection to the new post URL …

Make sure that your permalinks match the titles of your posts and pages to help site visitors find what they are looking for and ensure that search engines will better index your content …

Permalinks – Tips


To get maximum benefit out of using Permalinks, remember to set up your WordPress Categories correctly. If you do not have any categories set up, adding a category tag to your permalink forces WordPress to use the default category (uncategorized).

According to WordPress SEO expert Joost de Valk, here are a few points to keep in mind if you are wondering whether or not to add categories to your permalink structure:

Despite being the subject of intense debate in WordPress SEO circles, when it comes to category vs no category there really is no perfect permalink structure to use. We recommend choosing the permalink structure you think will suit your needs best and that will make your web address short enough to be attractive and long enough to be descriptive.

We cover WordPress categories in other articles.

Create Timeless Posts

Another tip from Joost de Valk is that unless your website is a news site or there is a special reason why you need to create dated website URLs, it’s best to avoid choosing date-based permalinks when configuring your blog’s URLs.

(Avoid using permalinks that time-stamp your content)

People are less likely to click on a post that is a couple of years old, even if the content is relevant to what they are searching for.

What If My Site Has Content?

Normally, your site’s permalinks should be configured when you first install WordPress. This should be part of your website planning process.

If your site is already established or you have a lot of content already indexed in the search engines and you would like to change the permalink structure, make sure that this is really something that needs to be done, as changing permalinks after your site has already been running for a while can create issues and errors.

Add 301 Redirection

As you’ve seen in earlier screenshots, some WordPress site owners (or whoever set up their site) are unaware of the permalinks feature of WordPress.

Maybe when you started, your site used the default WordPress permalinks and now you want to optimize your site better for search engines. Maybe your website or blog was originally set up to display post dates in your URLs and now all of your posts are perceived as being out-of-date and you want to remove the date portion in the permalinks.

To change your permalink structure without impacting your site’s SEO or existing rankings in a negative way you will need to add ‘301 redirects’ to reassign links set up using the old permalinks syntax to destinations that use the new permalink syntax.

A code ‘301’ is interpreted by search engines as a link that has permanently relocated to another destination. 301 redirects are the most efficient and search engine friendly way to redirect users to new website destinations and avoid page errors if clicking on an old link.

To create an effective syntax change and avoid SEO problems, sending visitors to error pages, etc. you will need to install and set up your redirection system before changing the permalink structure of your site.

You can site using a WP redirection plugin like Simple 301 Redirects, or Redirection, or use the services of a professional to assist you with setting up and redirecting your permalinks correctly to avoid issues and troubleshoot any errors.

(Set up 301 redirections using a WP redirection plugin or get professional help)

Congratulations! Now you know how to set up your blog’s permalinks to display SEO-friendly URLs for your posts and improve your search search rankings. To learn more about using Permalinks, refer to the WordPress codex below:



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