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How to Change a Permalink in WordPress Posts & Pages for Improved Searchability & Easy Identification How to Change a Permalink in WordPress Posts & Pages for Improved Searchability & Easy Identification How to Change a Permalink in WordPress Posts & Pages for Improved Searchability & Easy Identification Paradigm Marketing and Design
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Marketing Tips, Insights, and Trends

How to Change a Permalink in WordPress Posts & Pages for Improved Searchability & Easy Identification

Author: Rennica Johnson Category: Web Design Date: July 23, 2020

Permalink text, website, search, html icons in a 3D Concept Illustration

Permalinks. For lots of people, they’re the one piece of the website puzzle that you don’t really think about – until you’re forced to. Maybe a link broke, or your SEO is struggling, or you’re getting complaints from visitors because no one can remember your randomly generated URLs. Those issues are all related to permalink optimization (or lack thereof), and we’re here to explain some of the ways in which permalinks can affect the success of your site and your searchability, as well as to give you a quick tutorial on how to change permalinks in WordPress websites so that they work better for you and your business.

First up, what are permalinks in WordPress, exactly? As the name suggests, they are the “permanent links,” or URLs, of the individual pages on your site. In other words, permalinks serve as the exact addresses for where on the web your pages can be found. The permalink for this blog post, for example, is www.paradigmmarketinganddesign.com/how-to-change-a-permalink-in-wordpress-posts-pages-for-improved-searchability-easy-identification/. Click that link or type the address into your browser, and you’ll land right back here, at this exact page, every time.

While link sharing is a big part of permalink optimization, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Your permalinks also play a huge role in Google indexing and, therefore, SEO – which makes knowing how to change permalinks in WordPress even more valuable. When you publish a page with a randomly generated permalink, like www.yoursite.com/7s98fh7, you give Google no indication of what the page is about, and the search engine’s bots have very little information to go off of. But when you publish a recipe for your favorite apple pie, for example, and give it a permalink like www.yoursite.com/apple-pie-recipe, Google bots and average humans alike can get an immediate sense of what lives on that page. Ultimately, when you know how to change permalinks in WordPress, you can give Google more clear-cut information; and when you do that, the better Google can index your pages, and the more likely your pages are to show up in search results for your intended keywords.

Best WordPress Permalink Structure

There are no hard and fast rules pertaining to WordPress custom permalinks – you can edit them to be whatever you want. But if searchability is a top priority, then there definitely is a suggested best permalink structure for WordPress SEO. And in these cases, simplicity is key. Keep your permalinks as short as possible, and follow these five guidelines:

  • Include your keywords in the permalink
  • Use hyphens between words
  • Don’t use dates
  • Remove “stop” words (a, and, but, or, etc.)
  • Don’t use categories

How to Change Permalinks in WordPress

Now that you understand why it’s so beneficial to optimize your URLs, as well as what your permalinks should and shouldn’t include, let’s look at how to change permalinks in WordPress.

As with most things in business (and in life), it’s better to take a proactive approach to your permalink settings in WordPress than a reactive one. So, rather than waiting for complaints or issues to arise, it’s wise to get out in front of it and learn how to change permalinks in WordPress as one of the first steps in designing and developing your new website. Doing it this way sets the tone for your permalink structure and helps to ensure your permalinks are established from the very beginning and (hopefully) never have to change, which helps with Google indexing and avoiding broken links. Consistency really is the key here.

Whether you’re looking for how to change permalinks in WordPress pages or how to change permalinks in WordPress posts (i.e. blogs), the process is the same:

1.In your WordPress dashboard, navigate to Settings and choose Permalinks. You’ll be given six options:

Plain is the default option, but it’s the least user-friendly because it generates a query string that’s made up of a bunch of random characters. Similarly, the next three options are also discouraged – at least from an SEO standpoint – because they go against the guidelines for simplicity in how to change a permalink in WordPress outlined above.

2.Select “Post name” (it’s the option that holds the least amount of unnecessary clutter) or “Custom structure” (a bit more involved; see below) and then click the button to save your changes.

Note: If you opt for the Custom Structure option – which creates what’s known in WordPress as pretty permalinks – you’ll have the option of inputting one of 10 structure tags in the Custom Structure field:

  • %postname%
  • %post_id%
  • %category%
  • %year%
  • %monthnum%
  • %day%
  • %hour%
  • %minute%
  • %second%
  • %author%

In the interest of simplicity and searchability, %postname% is recommended, as it ignores the fluff and pulls the words directly from your post slug to create the permalink. For example, the permalink for your post titled “Best Apple Pie Recipe in the World” would become www.yoursite.com/best-apple-pie-recipe-in-the-world.

Once you’ve set your permalink structure, let’s next take a look at how to edit the permalink in WordPress. In some cases, the permalinks that are automatically generated may require a little bit of tweaking, and this can be done via each individual page or post’s editing screen. Right below the title field, the permalink is displayed with an “Edit” button right beside it. If you wanted to take that www.yoursite.com/best-apple-pie-recipe-in-the-world URL and simplify it, this is where you’d do it. Click the Edit button, make the necessary changes, click OK, and then hit Update on the main page or post. That’s it. It’s that simple.

So, as we’ve established, optimized permalinks really do more than just look nice. They’re also practical and quite beneficial for a number of reasons. If you’re still looking for more information on how to change permalinks in WordPress so they work for you, contact us today. We’ll help you look good and get found. 

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