Last updated on August 1st, 2018 at 06:20 pm
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If you’re new to blogging then chances are you may be new to WordPress. If you are just starting a blog and don’t know the steps to take then read this. However, if you’ve already installed WordPress and now just need to know “what are permalinks,” you’re in the right place.
In this tutorial, I am going to share what permalinks are and why it’s important you pay attention. Setting them up could be the difference between setting up a blog that succeeds and one that Google hates and ends up bullying you. Let me explain.
What Are Permalinks
Permalinks are nothing more than showing readers what your blog is about. It’s the unique URL for your post on the web.
Take a look at how I have my permalink set up on this post.
This is what people will see on their browsers when they visit your website. The search engines will display your permalinks in the search engines so people can see what page they are getting ready to visit.
Take a look at how my permalinks look like in Google.
Every search engine will show the permalinks, here is what they look like on Bing.
As you can see, they have your domain URL in the front and the keyword you are trying to rank for in the back.
This is why it’s important to choose a keyword you can rank for and most importantly set up your permalinks the right way from the start. Keyword research is a whole other topic and we won’t be discussing that here.
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Can I Change My Permalink Later?
I am assuming that you’re just starting a blog and you haven’t set up your permalinks yet. If you have already started blogging then don’t change your permalinks.
Changing your permalinks on a live blog will cause nothing but headaches. You will have to create 301 redirects or use the Simple 301 redirects plugin. Otherwise you will have a bunch or broken links on your blog.
If you’ve found yourself in a pickle and you can’t seem to sleep at night because you setup your permalinks the wrong way and you have to change them. Read this useful guide on using permalinks in the WordPress codex that will help you understand the permalink structures.
The best advice I have is to make sure you start a blog with the recommended permalinks settings. Make sure that you choose a hosting company that specializes in WordPress Hosting.
Now you might be wondering, what are the recommended permalink settings.
Well follow along and I will show you how I have my permalinks setup and walk you through the process of setting them up for the best Search Engine Optimization (SEO) benefits.
How to Choose a Permalink Structure
Login to your WordPress blog, go to
Settings > Permalinks
You may have noticed that when you first learned how to install WordPress, regardless of how you did it. Your blog got setup with plain ugly permalinks, like this:
This sucks and it’s terrible for SEO.
Search engines use words not numbers to identify what your blog is about. This is why so many people scream “choose the right long tail keywords if you want to rank in the search engines.”
Think about it when you’re looking for a pet sitter or a nice restaurant. You run to the internet and type in something like “pet sitters in my town” or “best place to eat in Charlotte, NC.”
This will bring back results related to the search query you typed in.
Your blog posts work the same way.
So let’s make sure that you get off on the right foot when starting your blog.
The Recommended Permalink Structure
The Post Name is the option that most people use for their blog. Of course there are other instances that people would want to use something different.
%category% – This shows the category that the post was assigned to.
%year% – Displays the year the post article was published.
%monthnum% – The month the post was published.
You get the drift of how you can use the structure fields to setup your permalinks. If you missed it, read this to learn more about using permalinks.
However, to keep things simple I would recommend setting it up like mine.
It will help you with your search engine rankings, and in the end isn’t that what we really want?
Your Post Title Will Be Different Than Your Permalink
Regardless of what your permalink is, you do NOT have to name your post title the same. In fact, I’m willing to bet that it will always be different than what your permalink is.
This is the permalink for this post:
As you can see my page title is: “What Are Permalinks and How To Use Them”
It’s totally different than my permalink.
When you are giving your page a title, it has to be something that someone will click on.
Think of your post title as your salesperson for your blog. It’s constantly working for you 24/7. If you didn’t write an attention grabbing title, the sales person is going to suck.
In the real world, that salesperson would get fired for NOT meeting their quota. If you notice that your blog post has good rankings and people are not clicking through to it on social media, it’s time to test a new title.
So don’t be afraid to change your page title to test different titles. You can’t mess up your permalink, unless of course you edit it by clicking the little edit button.
When is it Okay to Change A Permalink
The truth is that I can scream “Don’t change your permalinks on a live blog” till I’m blue in the face.
We all know you’re going to do what you want. After all it’s your blog and you’re the boss of it.
I don’t know why you’re even considering it but it could be that:
- Maybe you want to simplify the structure and improve readability for your readers.
- You’ve acquired the site and you don’t like the way they were setup from the get go.
- You set them up wrong in the first place and now you want to fix them.
You have you reasons and I’ll let you finish the statement after or maybe…
You won’t break your site if you change them as long as you know how to do 301 redirects.
Just be sure that you setup your redirects otherwise your readers will get 401 errors when they visit your old permalinks.
So save yourself a headache and set them up correctly from the get-go.
If you do end up using the 301 redirect plugin and need help with using plugins, read my WordPress plugin tutorial guide.
Final Take Away
Don’t spend all day trying to pick your permalink structure. Use the recommended structure to help you rank your content easily. Maybe you still trying to figure out how to write your first blog post? Don’t forget to check out my JumpStart WordPress eBook, which is meant to help you get started with your WordPress blog as quickly as possible. You can purchase it here.
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How did you set up your permalinks? Have you ever changed them on a live blog? Let me know in the comments below.