Each of the articles we post on WordPress has a unique URL, ie, a locator you can see in your browser that is used to identify an article from another. They are also known as permalinks.
These permalinks are used to share, save content or add it to favorites. In addition, they also are used to search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing …) and other sites to link to our content. Therefore it is one of the most important elements of our WordPress!
Good management of permalinks can do the link experience easier to users and search engines (see the influence on SEO), but also it can help us to organize content by date, category, tags … in short, it is really useful.
How WordPress assigns a unique link to our content?
WordPress internally assigns a unique identification number to each item that is published (article, post, category, tag …). This ID is used to store it in the database and relate it to its content (title, date, author …). But for this we do not need to be worried, because this is WordPress’s job.
WordPress uses a structure by default which uses this number as fundamental and unique. Surely you have ever seen a type link: mipaginaweb.com/?p=123, well, WordPress wants us to indicate that we are in the identified page with ID = 123 within the domain mipaginaweb.com
Custom permalinks structure vs permalinks structure by default
WordPress automatically activates the structure by default after its installation on your server. However, WordPress gives us the option to set a different structure, which as you may have noticed, does not reveal any useful information.
Therefore, as a first tip, one of the best tasks to do after installing WordPress (and before you start posting or install thems and plugins) is to customize the permalinks structure.
The reasons are three:
1. It improves the internal management of the content by the administrator. Having information contained within the URL greatly facilitates the task of organizing, sharing or just knowing what article we are referring when we are linking to. Similarly, as discussed below, we can add information about the year and date, by allowing us to manage how old the post is.
2. It provides relevant information for the visitor. Think that the first thing the user sees while charging the web after clicking on a link is the url that is being loaded. If we give relevant information on that URL (article title, publication date, category in which it is stored …) we will improve the user experience from the first second, even improving bounce rate in some cases.
3. It is good for search engines and positioning. Surely many wanted to get to this point. So yes, well optimized URL is one of the most important factors today to SEO, because it allows us to tell Google the content of our posts. It is essential to well optimize this point, and join it to a proper management of categories and tags.
Remember, therefore, you are close to make your WordPress a more usable place for your visitors and you, and friendlier for search engines.
What custom WordPress permalinks structure should I choose?
To activate any of the options you must go into your WordPress dashboard: Settings> Permalinks.
Once there, you will find several options available (including the default option, which will be clicked) and a final option, which will allow us to customize our web urls.
Well, to decide you have some pros and cons:
Title of the post: this should be the key element that should always appear. It helps us to know what content we are visiting and emphasizes the keywords for search engines. Therefore, it has always to be present. (thus, we rule out the default and Numerical option, because they add nothing).
Dated or undated? This is a good question. Personally I think it is cleaner without dates, just the name of the post or post title. However, it may happen that in some cases or projects include the publication date is positive: Example, an online journal where you need to quickly know the age of the post to link it or not. We chose this structure when we created this web, and so far no regrets. It greatly accelerates us the time to link or compare items (we know what the old or new posts are.)
Custom: The last option allows us a dozen of different configurations. Using the following elements we can create our own unique structure to our WordPress using links calls “structure tags”. These options are available:
%postname% – The title of the post
%post_id% – The ID number of the post
%category% – The category to which the post is assigned
%year% – The year of publication of the article
%monthnum% – The month of publication of the article
%day% – the day of publication of the article
%hour% – The time of publication of the article
%minute% – The moment of publication of the article
%second% – The second of publication of the article
%author% – The author of the article
As you can see, we have many options. Suppose we want a URL where we show the category and the title of the post:
/% category% /% postname% /
And another example with all the information of the date of publication (I hope no one use it, because it is too much information!)
/% year% /% Monthnum% /% day% /% hour% /% postname% /
Some conclusions on the use of permalinks
As you have seen, having a good permalink structure is essential for positioning and managing your WordPress. It is something that needs to be thought about and decided before starting any project.
However, if you already have a WordPress with the default structure, you can make the switch to a new structure without losing the work done, because in most cases, WordPress will automatic redirect your old URL to the new links. If it were not so, and for greater security, you can always use a plugin like Redirection.
I hope you found it useful. You can see more tutorials and tips like these in Silo Creativo’s post about WordPress. Regards!
In terms of SEO, I believe that the structure /% category% /% postname% / is the best.
Hi Guilherme! Thanks for commenting
Yes, it could be the best option for a blog that focus their articles in a unique category. But if you have all your posts linked to more than one categories, it could be more effective removing the category from the slug (although WordPress only adds one category per post to the final url).
Thank you again! 🙂