permalink structure wordpress roseanna sunley

As soon as you open a fresh install of WordPress, there are a few settings that must be configured before you go to work on anything else.

One of those things is your permalink structure.

What is a permalink?

Permalinks are the URLs that are given to your posts and pages. For example, the permalink for this post is

https://roseannasunley.com/entrepreneurship/working-online/permalink-structure-wordpress

These links are permanent (hence the name, perma-link) and they do not change with time unless edited manually.

When you first start your WordPress website, the default permalink structure that you are given looks something like this

https://mydomain.com/?p=123

That is not an SEO friendly permalink, therefore newbie website builders and bloggers will find it harder to gain traction and get ranked in search engines with this type of permalink structure.

How do permalinks affect SEO?

SEO is the short-hand term for Search Engine Optimisation. The better your SEO is, the better your website can be picked up by search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Therefore, increasing your organic traffic.

A major on-page SEO point that is worth noting is to ensure that your keyword appears in your post’s URL (permalink).

If you use the default settings of WordPress, then this will not happen, resulting in a permalink that is not SEO friendly…and frankly, rather ugly.

How do permalinks affect other types of traffic? 

A URL that is full of random numbers and characters is less likely to be clicked on and less likely to be shared. 

This is because the link looks ‘spammy’ and as though it could be from an unscrupulous source and is, therefore, less likely to be trusted.  

People will think twice before clicking and sharing the link with their friends.

On the other hand, a clean and simple URL gives the user much more confidence that their hardware won’t be infected by a virus if they click on it. 

How to change your WordPress Permalinks

Log into your WordPress dashboard and go to Settings > Permalinks

From here you can see a list of common settings, along with the option to create a custom structure.

As mentioned above, the default setting is https://mydomain.com/?p=123, which is the first setting, ‘Plain’.

To help make your website search engine and user-friendly, we must change this.

If you have already begun your WordPress website and you are wanting to change the permalinks after you have published some posts and pages, you can still do this. However, any internal links and backlinks may no longer work and may result in 404 Page Not Found errors.

To help correct this issue you will have to set up a 301 redirection from the old URL to the new URL. Click here to find out more about 301 redirects and how to set them up. 

Recommended settings

I recommend selecting Post Name as your permalink structure

https://mydomain.com/sample-post/

All you need to do is select the Post Name option, and then click Save Changes at the bottom of the page. And that’s it, say hello to your new SEO friendly permalink.

But wait…

You may notice that I use a Custom Structure containing the post’s category followed by the post’s name. I do this because I use the category to segregate my site’s Push Notifications (more on that coming shortly too).

To do this, I edit the Custom Structure to contain: /%category%/%postname%/

You can also use this structure, but please be aware that it leaves you open to easily duplicating content.

What is duplicated content?

Duplicated content is a page that can be accessed by two different URLs.

If you use the custom structure containing the post’s category and you classify that post into two categories, then the exact same piece of content would be available from two separate URLs.

https://mydomain.com/category-A/sample-post/

…AND…

https://mydomain.com/category-B/sample-post/

This is known as duplicated content and as far as Google sees it, you’re just clogging up the internet.

The reason that this is a problem for Google and your website’s SEO is because when someone does a search on Google, Google has to decide what results to show.

To do this, Google will look at all the information on your website and it’s pages and posts. If two URL’s contain the exact same content, then Google will not show both of those pages in the search results because it is not helpful to the user searching.

Therefore, Google will drop one of the pages and only show one result.

Since this duplicated content is not helpful to Google – after all, the last thing Google wants is to have multiple web pages to search through that all contain the same information – then your content may be penalized by search engines.

For this reason, I recommend that if you are just starting out, set your permalink structure to Post Name: https://mydomain.com/sample-post/

This helps to keep things simple and to the point, and it avoids adding any extra bits that may affect your on-page SEO score.

Other simple tips

Here are a few other little tips to note to help keep your permalinks SEO friendly.

  • Use dashes (-) instead of underscores (_)
  • When writing your posts, ensure that your keyword appears in the post’s title (and therefore the URL)
  • Remove ‘stop words’ from your permalink (such as ‘a’, ‘we’ and ‘are’)
  • Shorter URLs are better than longer URLs, so where possible, try to keep them less than 50-60 characters

If there is anything else that I missed, please let me know in the comments below and I’ll be sure to add it.

I hope you found this useful and I wish you the best of luck with your WordPress website 🙂

Roseanna x

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Roseanna
Currently winging my way through life and putting most of it on the internet. This is my personal website where I share my business book reviews, my adventure tips and stories, and my general musings on life as a solo entrepreneur.

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