From time to time, I find WordPress powered blogs that use a certain default setting.

Nothing wrong with defaults in general, but the one I’m talking about today is one of the key essentials for getting high rankings at the Search Engines, and it makes folks remember and recognize certain pages more easily.

Therefore, I find it essential for your Internet Business.

What am I talking about anyway?

Permalinks (or “Permanent Links”)

When people visit your WordPress blog they will see a list of the most current posts. But what happens if a user wants to come back to read a specific post in a few days or months time? It could be that it has disappeared off the home page and is now archived somewhere. This is where permalinks come in.

Permalinks are quite simply permanent links to your post, and per default these look like…

http://www.yourblog.com/?p=123

The “p=123” means something to WordPress, however it means very little to anyone else, or Search Engines for that matter. These are the two main reasons why you might want to change your permalink structure in your WordPress application.

SEO is a hot topic nowadays. Just in case you have been living with cotton wool in your ears for the past few years then it stands for “Search Engine Optimization.” This basically means making your site more attractive to Search Engines.

When Search Engines are crawling the Internet they may pay attention to certain sites and index them. “p=123” means absolutely nothing (other than that it’s the 123th post,) unless of course someone searches for “p=123” which is very unlikely! What would be better is to change this link to something meaningful.

Changing the format of these links will also make it possible for humans to remember certain links. Including the post name in the permalink will make it much easier for people to remember the content of the post.

Also, when someone sees a post of your blog, s/he decides whether or not to click-through to that particular blog post. Having a “p=123” may not accomplish this.

Changing The Permalink Structure In WordPress

To change the permalink structure in your WordPress application, click on OPTIONS -> PERMALINKS. Under “Common Options” check the radio button beside “Custom, specify below” and enter the following…

%postname%

This will result in a structure such as http://www.yourblog.com/name-of-post

Why only %postname% and nothing more, like the date or the category?

The reason why I use %postname% only is word-of-mouth, which is a crucial part of any Internet business. Similarly to choosing a good domain name, the longer the URL the harder to remember and the more difficult it will be to have a clickable link in e-mails, comments, chatting, etc (may be chopped off.)

—Marcus Hochstadt

P.S. For more information, visit the WordPress tutorial on changing the permalink structure.

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31 Responses to Why Some Should Change The Permalink Structure

  1. James says:

    Hi Marcus,

    My blog is running on Blogger platform. Is it the same thing applied to Blogger blog as well? If yes, do you have any idea about how to do that in Blogger blog..

    Thanks,
    James

  2. Jason says:

    When I updated my permalinks it made a huge difference. This is a great explanation on why and how. Thanks for sharing.

  3. androo says:

    good topic… i had trouble with permalinks at first when i transfered over my blog form blogger to wordpress… but i got someone to help me with them and i had to contact my hosting service to allow access to my database (or something along thoses lines)… Thanks for sharing the valuable info!

  4. Ben Barden says:

    Hi Marcus, glad you mentioned this. I don’t use WordPress for my site but I know a lot of people do. This kind of thing is so fundamental to finding content on the web that it should just be enabled by default, so users don’t have to follow tutorials or install SEO plugins. Options that everyone should turn on shouldn’t even be options. There’s just no need!

  5. Relax Max says:

    Although I have passed by several times in my entrecruising, this is the first time I have stopped to smell the flowers. I should have stopped earlier. I don’t use WordPress on my current blogging project (mainly because I don’t agree with Matt that “code is poetry”. To some of us, code is work), but your post on permalinks is helpful and important, and I have copied it down to follow up on my WordPress ventures. Thank you for it.

  6. Magpies Zone says:

    Great point on the %postname% permalinks rather than using date and month before the post title. I also using /name-of-post for my blog permalink, and before change it I have read on about not to do this if your blog is already existed and changing the default url into permalinks are only valid for new blog.

    Maybe that is true, because I have experienced of losing my feeds stats for couple days, the feeds statistic is showing zero result, but I see it as if I didn’t use permalink now, my blog will also suffered.

    Now, my alexa rank is looking even better and my Technorati authority is also growing after I change my default url into permalink :)

  7. iphone games says:

    If you aren’t running a wordpress site the same thing can be achieved with modrewrite rules in your .htaccess file.

    Google modrewrite and you will see what I mean. If you have no web experience though you are better off sticking with wordpress and letting them handle the nitty gritty for you!

  8. Margaret says:

    Using this structure on your permalinks just makes good sense as like you say, the default of p?123 makes little sense to GOOGLE or any other search engine.

    Also, changing from the default to this structure won’t break anything as I recently found out. Even people who have bookmarked the old link will make their way back OK.

    M

  9. Thank you SO much.. This is MUCH better :)

  10. A Girl... says:

    Thanks for the tip! Now I need to focus on writer fresh post titles.

  11. stormwhistle says:

    Well written and very informative point you have brought up here.

  12. Hi all, glad my post hit a nerve. :-)

    @ James, as far as I know, Blogger powered blogs are already set up with the page title in the file name (at least part of it) and they end in .html. Don’t know though whether you can change their default permalink structure. (Couldn’t find such a setting.)

    @ Ben, I changed my permalink structure right before my first official blog post. Though, I had to move from a trusted German to a U.S. host in order to make it work.

    @ Magpies Zone, I’m not an expert on that matter, though perhaps WordPress takes care of that?

    Others, any idea? Perhaps “iphone games” gave a solution…

  13. Youre right, good point. I’ve been doing that all along but I see a lot of bloggers who still have the default on. Some of them quite good in other respects who may to some extent be shooting themselves in the foot with this.

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  24. BioTecK says:

    Very nice article! Thnx for sharing!! But I am still confused about the permalinks…

    I agree that the default (?p=123) permalink is just “bad”!
    But then again, you can also use 2008/04/01/sample-post/ tag, right? So my question is, what’s the different between that en %postname%?? Beside that the url gets long!?

    Is this just a matter of choice or what? Cause I see a lot of blogs which have a lot of amount readers and they use the yy/mm/dd/post-name tag and me… I’m having a “hard” time choosing the right permalinks… :p

    So can you help me out! ;)

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  27. Goacom says:

    It is a pity that the setting in blogspot cannot be changed for the permalink as Marcus responded to James in the negative.

    Any way around this thing for blogspot blogs? How come Google who is expected to be the pioneer in SEO foresight overlooked this detail of the most suitable structure for a permalink and so allow its bloggers the option for that change?

    I guess I will have to live with it. Or will I?

  28. Mark says:

    This is a very important thing to keep in mind for anyone using a WordPress Blog. A lot of blog traffic comes from dofollow links!

    • Michael says:

      @Mark I totally agree…. But it is also getting hard to allow just anyone to post on blogs that have do follow links. Spam bots are scouring the net for any place to post.  As far as SEO BioTech is right. “the default (?p=123) permalink is just bad”. Word press is so main stream now it should be some what set up SEO friendly out of the box  so even newbies have a chance of getting some traffic benefits.

  29. NUFC Blog says:

    Hey,

    I find that having the category name and then the postname is more useful in some cases than just the postname for SEO.

  30. NUFCBlog says:

    I noticed changing the permalink structure really affects how search engines rank my site, within 3 days I noticed an increase of 13 places.

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