Have you ever wondered what is the most SEO friendly Permalink structure in WordPress? We often ask this question to new users. Because in the past, the default WordPress URL structure was not SEO friendly. Although this has now changed, in this article, we will explain the WordPress SEO friendly URL, and how you can optimize your WordPress Permalink.
What is SEO Friendly URL?
Before we go deeper into WordPress Permalinks, it is important that we define what SEO friendly URLs are.
SEO friendly URLs contain keywords that explain the article, and they are easy to read by both humans and search engines. They improve your chances to rank higher in search engines.
Example of an SEO friendly URL:
So what does a non-SEO friendly URL look like?
By default, WordPress now uses post names in URLs which is the most SEO friendly URL structure.
So why do beginners still ask us for the best Permalink structure?
Because in the past, WordPress did not use beautiful URLs, also known as Permalinks. The default used to be the non-SEO friendly example that we shared above.
This was changed to WordPress 4.2. If you have recently installed WordPress, your site URLs are SEO friendly.
You can easily verify your Permalink settings in your WordPress admin area.
Permalink Settings page explained
In WordPress, the link is called Permalink (short for permanent link). You are using the term crosslink structure and URL structure to interchange.
The first thing is to go to the Permalinks Settings page in your WordPress admin area.
Just click on the Settings link in the Admin menu and then click on Permalinks. This will take you to a page that looks like this:
As you can see the number of options available is.
- Day and name
- Month and name
- post name
- Custom structure
Choose your own URL structure using the available tags.
Let us clarify these options a bit, and how useful they are for users and SEO.
The first option, called plain, is used as the default WordPress URL structure. This is not an SEO friendly option.
The day and name option is somewhat SEO friendly as it has a post name. However, with the date, the URL becomes too long. But more importantly, after some time your content becomes outdated, even if you update it regularly. Similarly, the option of month and name also runs the risk of being dated.
However if you are a news publication, you want your URL to have dates to show recency and improve user experience.
In our opinion, those two structures are only good for news sites. Business sites that are hoping to ever create green content should avoid it.
The post name option is the most SEO friendly because it is short and beautiful.
If you are running a large publication, you can use a custom structure that can also be SEO friendly.
In WPBeginner, we use a custom Permalink structure that appends a category name with a post name to the URL. Because our site is large and has thousands of articles, we like it very much. You will notice that large publications follow a similar URL structure.
To use a custom URL structure, you must add special tags to the custom structure box. For example, we use:
/% Range% /% postname% /
Notice how each tag is wrapped between percent signs. After the tag, also pay attention to the before and after trailing slash.
Creating a custom URL structure with available tags
For best results, we recommend using the options mentioned above. You can copy the URL structure we use on WPBeginner or choose a post name as your URL structure.
However, there are many other combinations you can create using tags. Here’s a list of tags you can use to create your own custom URL structure:
- % Year% – Year of the post, four digits, eg 2016.
- % Month% – Month of the year, eg 05
- % Day% – day of the month, eg 28
- % Hour% – the hour of the day, eg 15
- % Min% – min of the hour, eg 43
- % Second% – second of the minute, eg 33
- % Postname% – A sanitized version of the title of the post (slug field on the post post / page panel). For example, if the title of your post is This is a Great Post! This will become a great-post in this URL.
- % post_id% – the unique ID # of the post, for example 423
- % Category% – An accepted version of the category name (category new / slug area on edit category panel). Nested sub-categories appear as nested directories in the URI.
- % Author% – An abbreviated version of the author’s name.
After choosing your Permalink structure, be sure to click the Save Change button.
As soon as you press the Save Changes button, WordPress will automatically update your site’s .htaccess file and your site will immediately start using the new URL structure.
Warning: Important note for installed sites
If your site has been running for more than 6 months, please do not change your Permalink structure.
You do not have to use the same structure that we used.
By changing your permalink structure on an established site, you will lose count of all your social media share and can afford to lose your existing SEO ranking.
If you need to change your Permalink structure, hire a professional so that they can redirect appropriately. You will still lose your social share on the pages.
There is only one exception to this rule. If your site is using a plain URL, no matter how old it is, you should update the URL structure for better SEO. Yes, you will still lose the social share count, but the benefit is much more than that.
We hope that this article helped you create an SEO friendly URL structure for your WordPress site. You may also want to see our guide on categories vs. tags – SEO best practices for sorting your content.
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