Permalink (pur-mah-lingk)-a permanent URL, usually a single blog post or news article that links to a particular web page.
Permalinks are (ideally) unchanging URLs, as the name suggests, that can be used by readers to enter your WordPress platform or blog. Yet it isn’t what they’re doing. It is important for the SEO to get permalinks correct and is also very much part of 2021’s SEO best practices!
What feels like the perfect permalink?
Before we get down to whether a permalink is the optimal structure. Let’s look at what the different permalink choices are, and why some of them are NOT the best ones to go for.
The The default structure
Now, by default, the permalink structure for WordPress is very… err, Nasty!
And it sort of looks like this…http://www.example.com/? P=123, where the numbers at the end denote a special post ID that WordPress uses in the absence of a custom URL to label the post. Certainly, this is NOT the perfect permalink system that anyone can adopt. Thankfully, there are some more choices for WordPress to select for your permalinks.
Day and name structure
Therefore, next up is the one that is most widely referred to as the permalink of the day and name and a subtle upgrade on the ugly ones. Usually, here’s what such a permalink looks like:
This essentially converts to a URL that will hold the year, month and day when the post is written. http://www.example.com/yyyy/mm/dd/post-name/- If you write an article on February 27, 2019, for instance, your post URL would look something like this….
The Structure of Month and Name
This is identical to the arrangement of Day and Name above, except that the date in the URL is skipped. So, the post published on Feb 27, 2019, with that structure chosen, will have a URL like this…
In each of the above instances, the domain name is preceded, without beating around the bush, by unique identifiers relevant to the article. Also, this is something we would prefer readers and search engines alike! There is also anything, though, which is not recommended. If, of course, the existence of your blog or website determines that you have stamps in the posts for the year or month or date.
For a news website or a blog, where the day/year matters, or where content does not belong to the ‘evergreen’ range, this sort of layout is acceptable! The downside, however, is that if you don’t have such a website and you have a lot of content that is evergreen or can be modified over the years and still be as relevant as the day it was published, then you’re at a loss. This is mostly because the year/month and even the day of initial release can be used by the consumers. But just imagine this…
Now, the URL above talks about a post outlining the current year’s SEO tips. Yet, the URL carries the ugly reality of an article published in 2017 being this! The newer the content, the better for any reader! Based on findings, the viewer, affected by the slug, could always create an impression that the article is old, even though posts and articles are frequently updated! And on the rankings, this may have a negative effect.
This one takes the lead from the default UGLY system and, although unsuccessfully, attempts to build on it. The form of the URL appears this way….
The folder in this one is the category in which the article is filed in WordPress, accompanied by the previously stated unique post Name. So, for example, if your website or blog has a category called SEO Tips, a URL like this will be in your published post…
Nor is this style of structure recommended, since it is not a URL that is reader-friendly.
Note: For those looking to upload their websites to Google News, the post ID was once a must, since Google News has a provision for each article to have a specific URL ID. This is no longer necessary, though, and the regular URL structures are enough.
Post name structure
For different factors, this is probably the most suitable permalink system. Here’s how the URL looks…
This is a quick and effective way to make sure that the URLs are safe, humanly readable, and inform visitors what the article is about. It is also nice to remain new and evergreen for those who have material that can be changed over the years, without the URLs representing the same thing. For example, there will be a URL for the post on ‘Ten SEO Tips For The Year’: http://www.example.com/ten-seo-tips-for-the-year
While the article could have been written in 2017, with appropriate modifications you may modify and correct it and reshare it… What gives!!!
There’s now also a custom framework that you can tinker with to mix and match the above options.
For eg, if you need a URL structure with a post name followed by a specific ID, you can do it by adding/percent postname percent/percent id percent/or claim you need the day and the post name structure, then you can send that/percent day percent/percent postname percent. Although, for most entities, the Post Name structure can fit and it is also the Perfect Permalink Structure!
The significance of well-structured permalinks
Unstructured, lengthy or ugly looking URLs might turn readers off. They may also perceive them to be ‘spammy,’ especially those that lack proper words and merely have some numbers in them, such as the choice of Post ID. Also, permalinks that are ‘human-readable’ are more likely to land you the necessary attention! That is also something that would prefer readers and search engines alike!
Speaking of SEO, it’s also ideal to keep URLs as brief as possible (ideally under 100 characters). Using hyphens as separators to delete stop terms like and, or, except, of, the. And that should help build an enticing permalink, that’s simple on the eyes of the users, and enough provoking to make them click! Instead of retaining the URL for a post like ‘A Guide to the Best WordPress Permalink Structure, for example, as,
You can ideally keep it as: www.example.com/guide-best-permalink-structure-wordpress
You add needless characters to your URL for the year/month/day or even the /year/month/ setting, at least 6-8 characters!
So, by going for a clean permalink setup with only the post name, you can build an enticing permalink. The keyword use in URLs is the more significant consideration here. Today, this is often debated-is SEO substantially improved by using a keyword in the URL? Now, with SEO, it does not ‘substantially’ support, but it may provide the extra boost. And when you have your site vying for the same search results for millions of web sites, you can do so with any potential support you can find!
If your post name has the keyword (which it does ideally), retaining the permalink structure of the post name means that your URL picks it up immediately as well! Of course, you can delete the stop terms from the slug, such as-of, an, the, etc., for best technique. But that’s a whole different blog post…
There… You know now what a decent permalink looks like!
Let’s make it simpler for you to ensure that your permalinks are always on point… with a simple checklist!
The immortal WordPress permalinks checklist for 2021
Modify the default permalink structure of WordPress
- Choose a structure that helps you to have permalinks that are human-readable, so you can use your keywords (of course, without overdoing them)!
Build a permanent sound structure that can stand the test of time.
- For one, because they are MUST-haves, you should skip dynamic strings (like the yyyy/mm/dd format)!
- For most WordPress pages and blogs, going for the post-name framework should be perfect. From the viewpoint of the material, it is also a future-proof strategy.
Keep it as brief as possible for your URLs.
- Keep the URLs brief as a best idea, not so much to do with the permalinks, conveying just what is necessary for the reader to realize what the article or website is all about. Have in the URL the main keyword.
Change your permalinks (without hurting your SEO scores)!
Let’s face it, you might need to make some adjustments over time on the WordPress blog, and might not be able to adhere to the same format of the permalink. So, if you’re of those panicking at the realization that your permalinks aren’t perfect… or if for different reasons you’ve chosen to alter the current permalink layout… here are a few measures you should take!
Choose a ‘pretty’ permalink structure!
The short and sweet /%postname%/ structure should be ideal.
Make sure your site is completely backed up!
It is a smart thing to take a backup of the entire site, as in the case of failed permalinks, you can still roll back to the original site. Make sure there is no overload on the server when you are doing this!
Extract a dump of every post URL!
Using Google Analytics >> All Pages, dump all current URLs. If any URLs need to be manually routed to 301, you should link to this excerpt! Alternatively, to get a dump of all the URLs of your web or blog, you can even use crawlers like Screaming Frog.
Change the permalinks structure
It’s time to take the plunge now that you’ve already picked a permalink structure and taken a backup of your website!
Simply go to WordPress >> Settings >> Permalinks and select the alternative you want or add it to the custom SAVE! rule.
It’s that. Your permanent ties should be updated now! It’s time to rejoice….? Not too soon. There are a few things that you need to make sure are in order! What are the ones? Only continue to read…
Install a redirection plugin and set a rule!
Select the plugin for Quick 301 redirect. It is possible to use Redirection plugins to divert requests to another page on your web. When you move to a different platform and do not retain your URL structure, this is particularly helpful. Any incoming connections can be seamlessly moved through by setting up 301 redirects from your old sites to your current ones.
You should set a standard rule to modify the Permalink structure instead of spending time inserting each URL separately. For example, here is an instance:
If you move from a structure of /year/month/day/postname/ to a structure of /postname/ one… you can easily apply the identifiers or tags to the law as seen on the WordPress permalink tab. Anything of this kind…
Identify and check the absolute URLs!
You put the whole web address of the website you are referring to in the connection with utter URLs. That is why it is important to replace them! To scan and replace older URLs, use the Search & Replace plugin with the newly structured URLs on the separate internal sites. Ideally, if the URLs are set by clicking on the post/page from the drop-down options of the WordPress links, chances are WordPress may have refreshed the URLs already. This doesn’t always work, though. So, this move, don’t forget!
Re-submit the sitemap!
Re-submit the sitemap via Google Search Console until you’ve replaced the utter URLs.
Run a fresh check for 404 errors!
A few days after the process has been completed, search the whole site for 404 errors via Screaming Frog or some such method. For any page bugs, it will also help to keep an eye on the Google Search Console, just to be safe.
Focus on backlinks & link sharing!
For a couple of your top websites, build some backlinks and share the articles on social media, forums, etc. This may not be data-driven, but it may help speed up the process of indexation.
But what if you’ve never changed your permalinks, and still some broken URLs appear to be there! Of course, for no fault of yours, it might happen that your permalinks are behaving weird… there might be some alien powers at play! Or, something similar to home that you didn’t pay any attention to at all!
Some causes that may lead to permanent emergencies…
Do your permalinks function, even though you haven’t altered them? There is no reason to worry now! It’s not that it’s not possible to correct broken permalinks. Let’s take a look at why it could be…
Plugins are fantastic, of course! They give you features that you would never have had otherwise. They can still give you a lot of trouble, though. A couple of them are infamous for problems of incompatibility. If the WordPress permalinks are attached to a plugin or the .htaccess is updated and something goes wrong, you are likely to get a permalink mistake!
For website protection and performance improvement, daily WordPress updates are required. However, you may have to live with faulty permalinks if these changes result in version conflicts. (This doesn’t mean, of course, that you can ignore updates! You just need to be careful of them, and easily patch your broken permalinks.)
A spawning ground for fractured permalinks is site migrations. If you are transferring from one host to another, or from local creation to a production server, this will happen. Switching domain names or introducing SSL interferes with the structure of URLs, which can result in broken connections.
Restoring a backup will lead to compromised permalinks which could lead to a lot of 404 errors in WordPress permalinks!
On Apache servers, .htaccess functions as a gatekeeper, doing all sorts of stuff, such as redirecting, setting up permalinks, etc. It is often prone to a plugin being compromised and may cause all the pages to go to 404.
Phew!-Phew! Did you ever hear of it? Because you understand now what the potential triggers of your broken permalinks could be, let’s have a look at how to turn around the problem!
Here’s how those faulty permalinks can be restored…
The silver lining on this dark cloud is that they can be patched, regardless of what causes your permanent ties to die a premature death!
Reset your permalinks
Often your permalinks could be disrupted by a small error or a few minor adjustments in your WordPress admin dashboard. To reset your permanent ties, follow the steps below:
Step 1: Once you are logged in to the WordPress Dashboard, in the navigation menu, select Settings and then click Permalinks.
Step 2: Note the environment you’ve picked. Plain, Day & Name, Month & Name, Binary, Post Name, Custom Structure are the choices available. Copy and save it if you are using a custom structure, so you can later add it back.
Step 3: Select the Uniform environment, and then press the Save Changes button. If you have already configured the Single environment, pick Day and Name, and then press the Save Changes tab. A message saying ‘Permalink layout changed’ will then be shown.
Step 4: Now, pick your original environment, and again, press the Save Changes tab. When you see the ‘permalink structure changed’ message again, you are done. The permalinks on your web should be running again now. Before checking, you can have to clear your browser cache.
Fix plugin conflicts
Since downloading a specific plugin, whether you are facing the dilemma of broken permalinks, it may be because that particular plugin clashes with the others. You would need to deactivate the plugin in such a scenario and reset the permalinks, as stated in the previous point. Update the pages/posts to see if the mistake disappears.
You would need to uninstall the troublesome plugin and search at alternatives if this solves the problem. Alternatively, you would even need to search and uninstall the .htaccess file. After deleting the initial .htaccess file, resetting the permalink produces a new .htaccess file in your WordPress archive.
That’s about it… It’s crucial to get your permalinks correct to ensure your website and content stays meaningful and available to your audience! Just make sure your WordPress account is backed up before going for a permalink makeover, so you can recover your original site settings if something goes wrong!