What is a permalink and why you need to check them today!
Have you had a perm? Can you believe that I have? I’m won’t be sharing photos on Facebook though so don’t ask me to.
Well, if a permalink is nothing to do with dodgy hairstyles what is it? It is the link, or URL, to your pages or posts on your WordPress website. So this is a permalink https://wickedspider.com/10-most-important-things-after-installing-wordpress. This is a helpful permalink because the part after .com/ let’s people know what the blog post is about.
However the permalink could have been https://wickedspider.com/?p=146 (if you try and go to this permalink you will get an error as I just made it up to show you the difference) if I hadn’t changed a setting. This permalink isn’t very helpful is it? It’s not going to interest anyone. It’s not user friendly.
Check your Default Permalink Setting
Now it does depend on how you install WordPress but quite often the default option is like the ugly /?p=146 version. The number in this example refers to the 146th row in the wp_posts table for those that want to know – there will be a few like me who would. ?p=146 is known as the query string. Search engines can index these query strings of course but they, like your audience, prefer user friendly permalinks. Google says in their Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide:
“If your URL contains relevant words, this provides users and search engines with more information about the page than an ID or oddly named parameter would”.
How to Change your Permalink Structure?
To change the permalink structure you login to your WordPress dashboard then go to Settings>Permalinks. The post name option is going to give you something like https://wickedspider.com/10-most-important-things-after-installing-wordpress. Remember it will be your domain name at the beginning…..so a generic example would be http://www.example.com/10-most-important-things-after-installing-wordpress.
What if your Permalinks are already Set to the Post ID?
In theory you can ironically change your permalink structure anytime you want. However, I wouldn’t recommend changing your structure very often as it can cause havoc with permalinks already in Google’s database. And think about the posts you have already shared on Facebook, Twitter etc… People will get one of those 404 page not found error messages.
You may have been blogging on your website for some time though and have the uglier post ID as your permalink structure. You can setup some page redirects, known as 301s, if you really need to change your permalink structure. There are recommendations that you do this as the benefits of having friendly permalinks outweigh the hassle of changing – but remember don’t keep changing the structure of your permalinks.
So as soon as you install WordPress check your permalinks and change them if needed. For most people the post name option will be the best.
I’ve heard a rumour that perms are back in……I think once is enough for me though.