When you set up your WordPress website, you need to make an important decision.
You need to decide upon a permalink structure.
The permalink structure is your website’s URL structure. Primarily the part that comes after your domain name.
In this example, I’m using a permalink structure that has the year, then the month, then the post name.
But what is the best WordPress permalink structure? That’s what we’ll find out today.
The Default Permalink Structure
Depending on your host’s installation software, your permalink structure may be different on install.
But by default, WordPress uses a structure like this:
As you can probably guess, there are a few problems with this default permalink strucutre.
- For one, it’s much harder to communicate to other people. It’s much easier to say, “Visit mywpexpert.com/new_post”, rather than, “Visit mywpexpert.com/?p=456.”
- On top of that, it just doesn’t look as appealing.
- And lastly, Google likes it.
More on that last point. In Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide, they say:
Some users might link to your page using the URL of that page as the anchor text. 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.
So, obviously, this default permalink structure sucks.
What do we use instead?
WordPress’s Permalink Structure Options
Within WordPress, you can easily change your permalink structure.
On the backend, go to “Settings >> Permalinks“.
Within this page, you have two options. You can choose from one of the “Common Settings”, or you can create a custom structure using structure tags.
Which structure should you use?
The Best Permalink Structure
The answer is: it depends.
According to Kevin Muldoon’s article on ElegantThemes.com, the most common permalink structures are (each of the below includes the tag structure, an example, and a description):
- Post Name (/%postname%/) -this structure uses just the post’s name as the permalink. Example: www.mywpexpert.com/post-name/
- Category and Post Name (/%category%/%postname%/) – in addition to the post’s name, this structure includes the post’s category. Example: www.mywpexpert.com/category/post-name/
- Day and Name (/%year%/%monthnum%/%day%/%postname%) – this structure includes the year, the month, and the day, followed by the post name. Example: www.mywpexpert.com/2014/11/22/post-name/
- Month and Name (/%year%/%monthnum%/%postname%) – this is the same structure as the previous, but does not include the day. Example: www.mywpexpert.com/2014/11/post-name/
For news and magazine websites which are date dependent, a permalink structure with the date is optimal. This helps users understand the timeliness of the articles.
However, if your website is not date dependent, then using post name or category & post name is best.
As you can see, selecting your permalink structure is somewhat based upon preference.
However, no matter what, you should have the post name in the structure. It helps with your website’s search engine visibility.
Word of Caution
So, you now know how to select a permalink structure that is best for your site.
But you should note: changing the permalink structure on an established website can cause issues.
If your website is indexed in Google and receiving search engine traffic, changing your permalink structure can damage backlinks, rankings, and search traffic.
To properly change the permalink structure, you should redirect the old URL structure to the new one.
But that’s a topic for the next post.