One of the very first things you’ll want to do on a new WordPress website, even before publishing your first post, is to change permalink settings to a user-friendly, SEO-friendly structure. If this sounds hard to do and understand, don’t worry, it is one-click-easy. This post will help you understand what permalinks are and how you can change them.
What are Permalinks?
Permalinks are the URLs that direct visitors to specific pages, posts, categories and tags on your site. Across the web, permalinks are used to share website pages and posts – by email, social media and between websites.
Think of permalinks as permanent links – changing a URL after a post or page is published may break links sending visitors to a 404 error page. For this reason, it is important to set your permalink structure now while your site is new.
Changing Permalink Settings on a New WordPress Site
You can view and change permalink settings in WordPress by going to the Settings → Permalinks panel.
The default Plain WordPress structure will create URLs that look like this http://mywebsite.ca/?page_id=23.
The better option from an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and UX (User eXperience) perspective is to change the id number to the name of the page or post http://mysite.ca/about.
Changing the Permalink structure to “Post name” will replace the post id number with the title of your post in the URL.
New Permalink Structure in Action
If your blog is brand new, and you haven’t published your first post yet, here you can look at the WordPress Sample Page or Hello World post. Notice how the post id numbers in the permalinks have changed to sample-page and hello-world.
Now go to Pages or Posts → Add New to create your first page or post. Give the post a title, for this post our title is “Changing Permalinks in WordPress for SEO”.
Right below the Post Title you’ll see Permalink now with the full title of the post in the URL https://learnwp.ca/changing-permalinks-in-wordpress-for-SEO. But that is way too long so we recommend editing it. Click on “Edit” and keep it short and descriptive. In this case, the permalink was changed to https://learnwp.staging.wpengine.com/changing-permalinks.
When you edit page & post permalinks
- keep them short,
- use your focus keywords,
- stick to lowercase and
- use dashes to separate the keywords, not spaces.
Remember, permalinks are permanent links. You will need to create 301 redirects if you need change or delete a post after it has been published.