A Guide to WordPress Permalinks

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posted on: December 11, 2018

WordPress permalinks are permanent URLs to your blog posts and pages as well as category and tag archives. A permalink is a web address used to link to your content. The URL should be permanent and never change (but there are a few exceptions we can talk about).

For my clients, permalinks come up frequently. Often clients have been informed about incorrectly about permalinks, and it’s been a struggle to restore their traffic. This post aims to debunk common myths about permalinks and aims to give you a better understanding of how your site is structured.

How do I enable pretty permalinks in WordPress?

The permalink’s slug identifies your post or page. When you type in your post title in WordPress, the permalink is automatically populated with hyphens instead of spaces. You might not have thought much about this unless you use YOAST SEO, then you likely are customizing your slugs to be SEO Optimized.

The post slug doesn’t have to match your post name. Your post name might be long or eye-catching. However, you can edit your post slug to be more SEO friendly. A best practice is to use your SEO keyword as your slug title. Remember that keywords should be specific and relevant. For example, “wedding photography services” is better than “services.”

Permalinks can get complicated depending on your blog history. You might have set up your blog to include the date or category. If you were previously on Blogger, your WordPress permalinks might consist of a “.html” at the end of it. Changing your permalink structure can be detrimental to your brand if not set up correctly. If you have changed your domain name, I do not recommend changing your permalink structure until the domain name dust settles.

How do I get rid of the dates from my permalinks?

Quite a few bloggers end up having dates in their permalinks. Fortunately, it is quite easy to remove. You can add the following code to your .htaccess file in Apache. Just replace “www.yourdomain.com” with your actual domain.

RedirectMatch 301 /d{4}/d{2}/d{2}/(.*) https://www.yourdomain.com/$1

If on Nginx server, you can use the following configuration:

location ~ /d{4}/d{2}/d{2}/(.*) {
rewrite ^(.*)$ https://www.yourdomain.com/$1 permanent;
}

Can you change permalinks after you publish a post?

Yes, you can change permalinks after you publish a post, but be careful! If you change the slug or structure of your permalink, you will likely break old internal links, referral traffic, post share counts, and like counts. Instead of visitors landing on a page, they will land on a 404 page.

Changing your permalink structure is a bad idea. I’m saying this twice because it is that important, and be wary of incorrect information. If you are starting your blog, selecting a default permalink style is excellent before you publish a post. If you are transferring from Blogger to WordPress, you will likely be attached to the permalink structure of Blogger. In bad Blogger-WordPress transfers, often the permalink structure differs causing a drop in page views and awful user experience. In the whole scope of SEO, it is not that big of a deal if the permalink structure includes the date compared to cleaner permalinks that do not.

How many words should I use in my permalink slug?

If you can make your permalink slug four or five words long, you should be set. They should seem pretty natural together. When permalinks get longer, they look worse and complicated. Keep them clean and to the point.

Do you have any questions about WordPress Permalinks? I’d love to hear your feedback! If you are interested in learning more about WordPress, make sure to subscribe to my WordPress newsletter here!

A Guide to WordPress Permalinks

Editor's Note

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