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When first starting a blog you must get your blog’s structure set up correctly. Before you start to create content on top of it.
Otherwise, you could end up with severely backtracking on your progress and having to redo things. As trying to change the building blocks of your blog after you’ve written a dozen or so posts. Can quickly become time-consuming.
One of the vital parts of your blog’s structure are your WordPress permalinks. As they are what helps all your content connect together. So your visitors can flow from one page to another.
This WordPress guide aims to cover what you need to know about WordPress permalinks for bloggers. As well as instructions on how to change them. Plus the pros and cons of the different methods.
What Are Permalinks In WordPress?
Before we talk about how to use WordPress permalinks as a blogger. Let’s cover what exactly permalinks are.
Permalinks are literally the permanent URL links to your blog:
- + Other sections of your webpages
They are considered permanent because ideally, they should never change. Though sometimes you might decide the need too. But more on that later.
You’ll use permalinks to share your blog posts on social media and in emails. As well as Google also using them to list your content in its search results.
Generally, WordPress permalinks can be broken down into two types.
What is considered an ugly permalink? Well, usually these are URL links that aren’t useful or appealing to potential visitors.
An example of an ugly permalink could be like this:
Here, the 123 is the post ID number assigned by WordPress.
This is the kind of WordPress permalink we want to avoid as bloggers. As you cannot tell anything about where this link leads to. Both from a human perspective and a Google perspective.
What is considered a pretty permalink is more likely to look like these:
These types of WordPress permalinks are what you should be aiming for as a blogger. While everyone has their own opinions on the individual details and styles.
These are significantly better than using ugly permalinks. As you can more easily tell what the post is about. Making it useful for both your audience and Google search engine optimization.
As a general rule, you should always aim for pretty permalinks and clean URLs.
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Why Are Permalinks Important?
Now that you have a better understanding of what WordPress permalinks are. You might be wondering just what is so important about them? After all, they are just links.
Well, permalinks are all the connections to your blog posts. Because of this, they are the core structure of your blog and without them. It would be terribly difficult to find anything on your blog. Or the internet at all.
Because of this, they are all responsible for leading traffic to your blog. This means all the more reason to get your permalinks set up right from day 1 of your blog.
Not only this but permalinks are known to also have SEO benefits. As well as influencing whether potential visitors will click on a link
Think of it this way. Would you click on a link that looked like this?
I’d hope not, because you have no idea where this link is leading to. For all, you know it could be a website packed with spam and viruses!
Overall, using meaningful, clean and concise permalinks. Can have many benefits for your blog. Including:
- They are easier to understand and read by visitors who find your link. Especially in search engines.
- They are less intimidating and easier to remember for visitors. Which can affect click-through rates and shareability.
- They can help Google understand your content better with the use of keywords.
- Google can find your content easier to crawl if you use meaningful permalinks
- There is a small benefit to search engine optimization. Meaning you have a better chance to rank higher in search results.
How To Set Your WordPress Permalink Settings
Hopefully, I’ve made it clear why you should take WordPress permalinks seriously.
So, the next step is how to edit your WordPress permalinks from a blogger’s perspective. Since as a blogger, you’ll likely want your permalinks set up differently compared to a big news website.
In order to change your default WordPress permalink settings. You’ll need to navigate to Settings > Permalinks from within your WordPress dashboard.
Here you can select from a variety of options. Including the custom structure option.
As you can see there are several different options. Some that include the date, the post name or use a custom structure. That you can customize to your needs.
In general, as a blogger. You’ll want to stick with setting this option to Post name.
Often new bloggers will make the mistake. Where they leave their permalinks set to the default settings. Which can result in ugly permalinks. It is strongly recommended that you do not do this!
What Are Custom Permalink Structure Tags?
If you decide to use the Custom structure option. Make sure you only put structure tags in the field. You should not put your full blog URL there.
Here’s a breakdown of the custom WordPress permalinks you can use with this option.
- %year% – uses the year for your blog post, like ‘2019’
- %monthnum% – uses the month for your blog post in number format, for example, December would be ‘12’ or June ‘06’
- %day% – the day of the month in a numerical format, like the 17th would be set to ‘17’
- %hour% – the hour that the blog post was posted in 24-hour format. So 8pm would be ‘20’
- %minute% – the minute the blog post was published, so 20:47 would be set to ‘47’
- %second% – second of the published post’s date, so 20:47:11 would be set to ‘11’
- %post_id% – the ID given to the blog post in the database’s table, for example, ‘123’
- %postname% – uses your blog post’s title. So if your blog post was titled ‘Why Use WordPress?’ then it would be set to ‘why-use-WordPress’
- %category% – So if you set your blog post to the category Pinterest Tips. This would be set to ‘Pinterest-tips’. Also, for blog posts with multiple categories, you can only have one included in the permalink. Which is picked based on alphabetical order.
- %author% – uses the author’s name of the blog post. So ‘Jane Smith’ would be set to ‘jane-smith’
The Best Permalink Structure For Bloggers
The absolute best permalink structure for bloggers has to be the Post name setting.
Well, this permalink is evergreen and will have no problem staying permanent on any blog. It is also meaningful and easy to customize on a post-by-post basis.
Some bloggers may feel it is important to use years, months and days. But these are only really beneficial for massive news reporting sites. As such they will only complicate and make your blog URLs much harder to remember.
It is a much better approach as a blogger to use Post name and instead of having the date in your blog post’s permalink URL. Instead, ensure you have blog post dates added and displayed clearly for every blog post.
This way it is easy for your visitors to see when a blog post was last updated. Because sometimes this information is important. As the information on certain topics might be less relevant. Especially if there were recent changes.
No one wants to read heavily outdated content.
For example, if I have a Pinterest blog post. That hasn’t been updated in over a year, then displaying the date that the blog post was last updated. Can immensely help visitors determine whether the content is still relevant to them.
Another benefit of this method. Is that if you do update the blog post. You won’t end up with an irrelevant WordPress permalink. That you might feel the need to change.
Other Common Permalink Structures
Whilst I believe that using the post names for your URLs is the best method. There are other popular permalink structures out there. Some of these will work better or worse depending on your blog niche and content.
Using Category + Post Name
- You’ll need to set up a custom permalink structure using /%category%/%postname%/
- + Works well for blogs with distinct categories
- + Creates an organized structure by topic
- + SEO Benefits for adding additional keywords to your URLs
- – Only one category can be used in your permalink. So keep this in mind if you ever set multiple categories per blog post.
- – You are stuck with the category names you set unless you want to change all your permalink URLs. Which can be a huge task depending on your blog.
Using Date + Post Name
- You’ll need to set up a custom permalink structure using /%year%/%monthnum%/%day%/%postname%/ or /%year%/%monthnum%/%postname%/
- + Beneficial for large websites and blogs like in the tech news niche. As multiple posts on the same topic might be posted as frequently (i.e. daily, monthly).
- + Allows you to use the same Post Name slug for several blog posts.
- + Organizes content into date ranges.
- – Posts and their permalinks can become irrelevant or outdated quickly
- – Can be overly complicated for small websites and blogs
Changing The Category & Tag Base URL
Within the WordPress dashboard under Settings > Permalinks. There are also optional settings. That will change the URL bases used when using the tags or categories structure in your URLs.
By default these are /category/ and /tag/
So for example, a blog post might be:
You can use the two text boxes for the category and tag base to change these. For example, some bloggers like to use /topic/ rather than /category/
Or sometimes bloggers prefer to use /hashtag/ over using /tag/
Overall, you can skip setting anything here. As for the most part, you’ll likely be sticking to just using the Post name in your permalinks.
Saving Changes & Updating Your .htaccess
Once you make any changes to your permalink settings. Make sure you click Save Changes at the bottom of the screen.
You should get a message to confirm that the Permalink structure has been updated.
If you do not get this message then WordPress will provide you with some code. Which should be copied and pasted into your .htacess file.
If you have trouble with this then your web hosting support should be able to assist you.
Can I Use Dates In My Permalinks?
In short, yes. You can use dates in your WordPress permalinks.
However, you’ll want to avoid using dates in your permalinks. Because they quickly become irrelevant and rarely add any value to your URLs.
In fact, stick to just using the blog post names. You can then adjust them individually to be more clean and concise on a post by post basis.
How To Create Clean Permalinks For Each Blog Post With The WordPress Editor
Once you have the default permalink settings customized. You will likely want to customize the permalink for each of your blog posts.
You should do this whenever you create a new blog post. Before you actually publish it.
Also, avoid changing the permalinks of the blog posts after you’ve published it. Because it can break links leading to your blog post from other sources.
How do you do this though?
How To Change Permalink For Posts Only Using WordPress Gutenberg
Well, all you need to do within the WordPress Gutenberg editor is click on Document in the right sidebar. Then expand the Permalink section.
Here you can edit the URL Slug to a concise and clean version. That accurately describes what your blog post is about.
How To Change WordPress Post Permalink Using The Classic Editor
If you are still using the classic editor then the permalink settings within your blog posts. Are in a different area.
Just below your blog post title. You can see the current permalink and to the right of it should be an Edit button. Click this and can then edit your slug. Once done ensure you should also click on Save.
WordPress Edit Permalink Button Missing?
If you do not have the slug box in WordPress Gutenberg. Or the WordPress Edit permalink button is missing in the Classic editor.
Then this is likely because you haven’t set your Settings > Permalinks option correctly. As you need to use Post name or include it in a custom structure. For the option to be available.
Tips To Follow For Creating Clean Or Pretty Permalinks
Here’s an example of my permalink for a blog post about adding custom fonts to WordPress.
The starting permalink URL that WordPress created looked like this:
Now, this is much better than only having a post ID or there being some dates in there.
But while it is very accurate and explains what the blog post is about. It is actually way too long meaning it loses a lot of value.
It’s quick and easy to edit this from within the editor though. Just click inside the permalink box and delete or add a new permalink for your blog post.
What I did with this example was trim it down to its core most element. Whilst keeping what are called stop words down to a minimum. (Think words like – and, the, a, etc.)
Some people suggest removing stop words completely. However, whilst Google will ignore them. I do believe they can be important for your audience to understand and find your permalinks easy to read.
So, with this example my permalink URL for my WordPress fonts post was finalized as:
In this case, I have left the stop word ‘to’. Which do you think is easier to read?
Adding custom fonts to WordPress
Adding custom fonts WordPress
Personally, I feel like leaving the ‘to’ in makes things easier. As well as quicker and less awkward to understand.
I believe it is good practice to optimize your content for humans first. And then later for machines like Google search engine optimization.
Oh, and when creating and editing your permalinks. Stick to using all lowercase and hyphens to separate words. Otherwise, you can end up with duplicate permalinks!
Can I Change My Permalinks Later?
Whilst it is possible to change your permalinks later. After having set them previously.
In general, you should absolutely try to get this setting right from day 1 of starting your blog.
Because doing so can break your links. As well as confuse your visitors and even result in losing your ranking in Google. If not done correctly.
Well, if you have any links created externally. That points to your old blog post’s URL. Then these will become broken and will display a 404 error to your visitors.
You will either have to update these if you have access or setup 301 redirects to the new blog post URL.
The latter will often need to be used if you have other blogs or websites linking to your content. Since you cannot update these links yourself.
Whilst 301 redirects do work. They should be used sparingly. As it does mean extra requests to your blog’s server that can slow down the speed that your content loads.
Your readers won’t care that you have to use a redirect for whatever reason. They’ll only care about how quickly your page loads. Before they decide to move on elsewhere.
So to avoid having to use redirects and potentially slowing down your pages from loading. Take extra care to get these settings right the first time.
If you are unsure about picking one of the permalink options yourself. Then stick to the Post name option. As you can then edit these on a post by post basis as needed using these steps.
Summary Of How To Use WordPress Permalinks As A Blogger + Why You Should Try To Get Them Right The First Time
WordPress permalinks for bloggers are something every brand new blogger should tackle. Before they tackle how to write their first blog post.
Permalinks are an important part of your blog’s structure. So you should always aim to use meaningful, clean and concise permalinks. As these come with plenty of worthwhile benefits like:
- Being easy to understand and read by visitors who find your link. Especially in search engines.
- Less intimidating and easy to remember for visitors. This can improve your clicks and shares.
- Google can understand your content better, especially if you use of keywords.
- Google can find your content easier to crawl
- A small boost to search engine optimization. That can improve your chance to rank higher in search results.
For the most part, as bloggers, the Post name structure is one of the most beneficial and safe options. Because trying to change your permalink structure later. Can be quite a huge undertaking.
And if for any reason you do need to change your permalinks later down the line. Make sure to setup 301 redirects the right way. So that you don’t lose traffic.
What structure do your permalinks have? Did you opt for using only your Post Name or something else?
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