Permalinks are links that represent your content. They are essentially URLs that allow search engines to properly map and index web pages.
Permalinks are part of the WordPress universe. It is best that you set them up properly now, or you will have major problems later. Today, I will tell you everything you need to know about permalinks—what they are, why there are important, and how to set them up the right way.
What is a permalink?
Permalink means “permanent link.” It is a URL of a webpage. In WordPress, the system automatically generates this for you. In a website that is done manually, you will have to create the URL from scratch and assign it to a particular web page.
In WordPress, every page or blog post has its own identification. It is the unique address of that page. For example, the permalink to one of my blogs about Homepage SEO is:
I did not write that permalink myself. Instead, WordPress creates a default permalink or URL according to my blog’s title. I have the option to change it if I want to.
The permalink is what search engines like Google and Bing index. Once you create a permalink, this link must be final. Changing it later will cause many problems and may result in poor ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs).
So, essentially, a permalink is the identifier for a blog post or a page. There are many ways to standardize URLs, but the most effective one I showed you.
For example, for the same blog post, I can call it “https://bloggingkarma.com/12345.”
It is still a permalink, but it is not effective. Any person who sees that will not understand what it means. The same thing happens to Google—the machine has no idea what it means.
If you look at this screenshot, you will see the permalink at the top. As you can see, it is easier for a reader or researcher to understand where the link will take him because the blogger, Neil Patel, using words instead of numbers.
Why is a permalink important?
So, why are permalinks important?
They are important because they are the identifier of a webpage. But on top of that, there are many other reasons why you need them.
- Users need it to identify content – users read links to ensure they are not clicking spam. If they see that the permalink uses the keywords they used, they are more likely to click it.
- Search engines need it for indexing – search engines use the words in the permalink to get the context of what the page is about. Search engines will index the blog page according to the permalink and the content.
- Others will use to backlink to you – other websites and bloggers use permalinks to create inbound links for you. What they do is copy and page the URL from their browser and then use that to hyperlink anchor texts in their blog.
- They offer relevance and semantics – the words in the permalink give search engines context as to the relevance of the blog page to what the user is searching for.
Permalinks are like street addresses. In the online world, it is the basis by which browsers will attempt to contact your server for the information that it needs. If the permalink is different from the actual URL of your blog page, it will return an error, and no one can access your page.
The problem with permalinks in WordPress
There is a problem with permalinks in WordPress. Most of the time, it defaults to a permalink that is difficult to understand. If you do not change this standard, you will have severe issues with SEO.
Take a look at this screenshot:
The most common default setting for a WordPress permalink is the highlighted one. As you can see, readers and search engines will not be able to understand its context. It is made of some code. The better option is to use the Post Name.
So, why is this default permalink bad?
It is bad because it does not have an effective structure. It does not tell a person or the Google algorithm what it means.
Let us say that you published content about what affiliate marketing is. If the permalink is using numbers and codes, search engines will not know how to index that. Probably they will, eventually, but you are making them work harder.
It is better to use a permalink with words, as in this article from Neil Patel.
It is easier for both Google and a human being to understand what the permalink is about in this context. As such, Google will index this permalink under affiliate marketing.
If a person types a keyword like “how to make money affiliate marketing,” the SERPs are more likely to display this article than if the default permalink was used.
How to set the permalink structure in WordPress
It is easy to change your permalink settings in WordPress. All you have to do is to go to your ADMIN > SETTINGS > PERMALINKS.
From here, you have several options:
- Plain – https://aaronmatthewang.com/?p=123
- Day and name – https://aaronmatthewang.com/2021/09/02/sample-post/
- Month and name – https://aaronmatthewang.com/2021/09/sample-post/
- Numeric – https://aaronmatthewang.com/archives/123
- Post name – https://aaronmatthewang.com/sample-post/
- Custom Structure – https://aaronmatthewang.com/%year%/%monthnum%/%day%/%postname%/
The most effective, if you are to ask me, is the post name. The plain one does not mean anything. It has no context.
The day and name use dates, which is bad because it makes your blog post look old. If a person sees this, he would think that your content is not fresh. The same thing happens with Google. What Google shows in SERPs is fresh information.
If your permalink has a date, Google will naturally mark it as old, and your blog post will not get preference over the others.
The same principle applies with month and name. Customer structure, however, is complicated and can lead to problems later on. Only expert webmasters should use a permalink like this.
The best option, therefore, is the post name. If you publish a blog called, How To Delight Your Instagram Audience With Engaging Giveaways, the permalink is going to be:
As you can see, Google has many words to choose from as far as indexing is concerned. The permalink has keywords about the post. The words Instagram and audience and engaging are all there. What it means for me is that Google is likely to index my blog in different ways.
To the reader who sees the link, he will not think of it as spam. Instead, he will get encouraged to click it, knowing that the headline of my article is the same as my URL.
Summary: What Are Permalinks in WordPress and Why Are They Important?
Permalinks are identifiers of a web page. It does not matter if it is a page or a blog. It is the URL that helps people, and search engines, understand what the content is about. A good permalink must use words, not numbers.
You must decide on what permalink to use right after you establish your blog. Choose a permalink now, preferably one that uses words, and do not change it ever again. Changing it later will cause a lot of problems, as the old permalinks will return an error.
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