WordPress For Non-Techies: Free WordPress Tutorials – WPCompendium.org

How To Set Up And Use WordPress Permalinks

Wouldn’t it be great if you could simply publish a new page on your WordPress site, and the following took place … all from your post address:

Well, this is what permalinks let you do!

How To Set Up And Use WordPress Permalinks

What Are Permalinks?

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

A permalink is the web address that others use to link to your posts or sections of your site or the links you send in emails pointing to a particular item of content on your blog. Permalinks are often called “pretty” URLs.

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

Permalinks – Why Do We Need To Use Them?

As you probably know, WordPress is one of the best CMS applications available when it comes to SEO.

WordPress is not only great for SEO out of the box, but the SEO aspect can be easily improved using excellent SEO plugins.

If you are looking to optimize the SEO aspect of your site, then you cannot ignore the importance of its URLs. Google tends to give special significance to the URL structure of your site.

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

Now … let’s see the reason why you may need to use 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 above link structure with a string query to find data inside its database. It doesn’t really mean much to anyone, and it doesn’t help your site with on-site SEO.

As you can see from the screenshot image below, many WordPress site owners haven’t set up their sites to use permalinks …

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

To get more SEO benefit from 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 allows you to create a custom URL structure for your published and archived posts, so your pages can go from something that is non-SEO friendly like this …

To something like this …

By default, WordPress URLs are not very SEO-friendly. This step-by-step tutorial explains how to set up the Permalinks section of your WordPress site to help your content get better indexing in search engines.

How To Configure WordPress Permalinks

Log into your WordPress dashboard section and click on 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 “pretty” permalinks instead for our posts. To do this, we will need to specify a different Permalink structure than the default one.

Common Permalink Settings

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 SEO-friendly URLs)

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

http://www.mytravelsite.com/river-cruises/10-best-european-river-cruises

Instead of this …

http://www.mytravelsite.com/?p=7667

(Using post name permalinks helps readers and search engines understand what your page is about)

Search Engine-Friendly Tags

“Pretty” URLs, 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.

Optional Permalink Settings

If you need to set up custom permalinks for your tag and category page URLs you can do this in this section.

You can change the ‘base’ category or tag for your URLs using the following syntax:

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

So, if you make the following change in your permalinks Optional > Category base settings field …

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

To this …

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

Remember to save any changes when 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 – Additional Notes

Use Short, Descriptive Categories

To get the maximum benefit from using Permalinks, it’s important 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 and author of the WordPress SEO plugin Joost de Valk, here are a few things to keep in mind if you are wondering whether you should add categories to your permalink structure or not:

Despite being the subject of intense debate in WordPress SEO circles, when it comes to category vs no category there is no ”better” permalink structure to use. Choose the permalink structure that you think will suit your needs best. Your post URLs should be short enough to be attractive and long enough to be descriptive.

We cover WordPress categories in other articles.

Make Your Content Timeless

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 add dates to your post URLs, it’s best to avoid choosing date-based permalink options when setting up your URLs.

(Avoid using permalinks that date your posts)

Although setting up permalinks that time-stamp your content may be considered better that using no permalinks at all from an SEO point-of-view, visitors are less likely to click on posts that are several years old, even if the content is relevant to the answers they are searching for.

Changing Your Permalink Structure In Blog With Published Content

Normally, it’s best to set up your site’s permalinks when you perform a new WordPress installation. This should be part of your website planning process.

If your site has been running for a while or your site already has many posts indexed in the search engines and you would like to change the permalink structure, make sure that this is something that absolutely needs doing, as making changes to permalinks after your site has already been going for a while could create SEO issues and loss of traffic.

301 Redirection

As you’ve seen earlier, many site owners (or whoever set up their site) seem to be completely unaware of the SEO-friendly URLs feature of WordPress.

Maybe you started out using the default WordPress permalinks and now you would like to improve your SEO. Perhaps your website or blog was configured to display post dates in your web address and now all of your posts are showing as being old and you want to delete the date tags in the permalinks.

To modify your URL structure without negatively impacting your site’s SEO or existing rankings you should add ‘301 redirects’ to reassign all links set up using the previous URL structure to post URLs that use the new permalinks syntax.

Search engines interpret a code ‘301’ as a link that has permanently relocated. 301 redirects are the most efficient and search engine friendly way to redirect visitors to new website destinations and avoid running into page errors if following an old link.

To effectively change your syntax and avoid damaging your search rankings, sending visitors to error pages, etc. you should configure your redirection system before changing the permalink structure of your site.

You can site using WP plugins 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 any issues and troubleshoot any errors.

(Set up 301 redirects using redirection plugins or get professional assistance)

Congratulations! Now you know how to configure your WordPress site to display search engine-friendly URLs for your posts and improve your search results. To learn more about using Permalinks, refer to the official WordPress documentation here:

http://codex.wordpress.org/Using_Permalinks

***

"This is AMAZING! I had learnt about how to use WordPress previously, but this covers absolutely everything and more!! Incredible value! Thank you!" - Monique, Warrior Forum

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