Permalinks control the basic part of URLs on your website. Even if you feel new to the idea of permalink, chances are you already have used permalinks several times without knowing. Try to remember the last time you shared a blog on social media or through email. That was a permalink you used.
Furthermore, Google uses permalink when indexing content from your website. You might be thinking I haven't used permalinks before, but my website is doing well anyway! Well, that is because by default WordPress sets the structure of permalink for your website. Your website would do just fine even if you close this blog right now and let WordPress default settings take care of your permalinks. But why not exploit permalinks to generate more traffic! It won't take more than 5 minutes trust me.
WordPress default permalink settings
WordPress sets a default template for permalinks for your website when you launch it. It is set to Plain. The basic structure of the Plain Permalink structure is something like this- http://wpdeveloper.com/blog/?p=123.
The above URL structure is not at all user-friendly. The last part of the URL,p=123, refers to the post ID. Individuals must understand what the URL will open up just by seeing it once. Or they should be able to guess its content.
Why Permalinks matter?
But before you learn how to set a default permalink template, make sure you understand why permalinks matter. There are two reasons for which permalinks should be given importance. But let's have a look at two URL structures first.
The first URL cannot be easily interpreted. You cannot say what the URL is about just by seeing it, can you? In short, humans cannot make any sense out of it neither can Search Engines. On the other hand with the second URL, you get an outright idea about what the link holds.
1.SEO A well-structured permalink helps posts/pages to rank higher in SEO.
2.Usability People can more easily surf your website if you have set well-structured permalinks at place.
Now you see that permalinks are useful to both human web surfers and Search Engine algorithms. Another reason for using Permalinks is that at present times online content gets shared through Email, Social Media, and so many other Online Platforms. You can't afford to fail to exploit such huge number of shares.
Setting Permalinks for WordPress Website
You don't need to write codes to set permalinks. You can set permalinks from your WordPress dashboard using its user-friendly interface. To set Permalinks, go to Settings>Permalinks. From here you can pick from any of the five prebuilt permalinks templates or create custom structures.
Try out each of the templates if you have to. Once you are happy with a template, select it and click on the Save changes button(Blue Box) at the bottom of the page. Done!
What is the best choice?
Most of you will be best benefitted by using the Post name default template. The reason for this is, it can be manipulated 100%. Think for a second, the Day and Name template will display the publish date and title for the content. Although you can manipulate the title as much as you like you cannot completely manipulate the day. Same goes for Month and Name template.
Similarly, you should avoid displaying dates in the permalink. Readers are less likely to read older content.
Permalinks vs Slugs
Once you pick a permalink template, all your posts/pages will follow that structure. On the other hand, you can change a certain part of the permalink for individual posts/pages. That part is called the slug.
Setting up Individual permalinks for posts/pages
For example, if you selected Post name as the permalink template, the basic structure for your permalinks will be yourdomain.com/postname/. Now assume that you have a website with the name wp-content which has a blog How to Use Permalinks on it. So the permalink for this blog will be http://wp-content/How-to-Use-Permalinks/.
When you edit the slug you can change the last part of the URL. In the above example, the slug was /How-to-Use-Permalinks/. You can edit it to any text you like.
How to change the slug part for permalinks
You can edit the slug for a post/page from the regular WordPress editor interface. Go ahead try it now!
Open the WordPress editor and create a new post. Give it a title and save it as a draft. As soon as you save it as draft the permalink for the post would appear at the top, right under the Title. Now to edit the permalink, click on the Edit button beside it. Type in any text string you like to include as the slug part of the permalink. When you are done click on the ok button. That's it!
The option of changing the slug gives you a chance to add the focus keyword there. But remember that you cannot use spaces in the slug. If you do, WordPress will automatically replace them with a dash. Furthermore, do not add non-text characters. If you do, WordPress will remove them.
Some Guidelines to follow
Expect to face trouble while setting a new permalink structure for an old WordPress website. If you want to change the permalink settings for an existing website remember that Google has already indexed your content in the search results. And all of a sudden if you change those links, they will stop working. This mistake can lead to significant loss of traffic from search engines.
However, that doesn't mean you cannot change permalinks. But make sure to set up a 301 redirect while doing so. This will redirect traffic from old URLs to the fresh new ones.
Probably, the best idea is to set up a permalink template at the very first stage of launching a new website. This helps to avoid any unwanted trouble in the future when you feel like exploiting permalinks to reach out to more audience.