Choosing the Best WordPress Permalink Structure for SEO

Permalinks are the full links used to access the content of a blog. They are the URLs to posts and pages that are created. In WordPress, there are choices between different permalink structures. The best one should be chosen so that they are friendly for visitors as well as search engines.

There’s no single rule or the best rule for setting a permalink. No one has ranked better because of just permalinks. But there are guidelines on what to use and what to avoid.

Note: To change permalinks in WordPress, go to Settings > Permalinks and input values for Custom Structure.

5 Things to Keep in Mind about Permalinks

1. Post Title

Permalinks should have the title of the post in it. If your post title is “How to Install WordPress in HostGator” then permalinks can be something like.

http://yourblog.com/install-wordpress-hostgator/

The title of a post describes the content of the post and when permalinks have the title, it looks nice. The above mentioned structure is far better than just using yourblog.com/?p=10. Also note that we’re using dashes (-) for separating words. Avoid using underscores (_)

In Settings > Permalinks

Permalink Structure Postname

2. Reasonably Short

The link to access a post should be short, as far as possible. Again, short doesn’t mean using URLs like yourblog.com/?p=22. Short means avoiding certain words like the, to, in, at in the permalinks while keeping the important words.

Instead of using URLs like

http://yourblog.com/how-to-automatically-install -wordpress-in-hostgator-in-five-minutes/

You can shorten the URL to

http://yourblog.com/automatic-install-wordpress-hostgator/

Keeping Permalinks Short

Editing Permalinks

While composing a new post, enter a title. A possible permalink will show under the title. Click on the Edit button to remove certain words and hit O.

3. Remove Date in the URL

Currently, the default permalink structure in WordPress has date (year/month/day) in it. Unless it is modified, the default URL will be something like:

http://yourblog.com/2015/04/15/automatic-install-wordpress-hostgator/

Setting the date in the URL itself tells the visitors when the post was written. But old posts do not get that much attention. Even when you update posts regularly, the date in the link remains the same. Hence, it is recommended to remove dates. But for news sites with multiple posts a day, the date can be retained.

In Settings > Permalinks

Removing Date in URL

4. Post IDs in the URL

If there is a lot of content in a blog hosted at a shared hosting platform, just having text in the permalink can slow down the site. Database queries to retrieve the contents of your post take longer which means your site speed goes down. For a good user experience, site speed is an important factor. You can help maintain it by including IDs in your post.

Example permalink structure with ID:

http://yourblog.com/automatic-install-wordpress-hostgator/453/

http://yourblog.com/automatic-install-wordpress-hostgator-453/

In Settings > Permalinks

Permalink with ID

5. Directory Structure

Permalinks can also include a directory structure. Meaning, you can include categories in the link before the post name if they make sense. Having categories can tell visitors about the contents of the post.

For example:

http://yourblog.com/design/free-wordpress-template/

http://yourblog.com/design/top-5-parallax-templates/

It would be an added bonus if http://yourblog.com/design/ took the visitors to the category page.

In Settings > Permalinks

Category in Permalink

Final Words

Overall, there’s no single rule to setting permalinks in WordPress. The most popular choice seems to be http://yourblog.com/post-title/. But we are not limited to it. Search engines like Google, does not set a limiting factor to the length of a permalink. You can have a long permalink or directory structure as per your preference. But keeping it short means keeping it simpler for visitors and your ultimate goal should be to make the site as much accessible as possible for visitors.