What is the most SEO-friendly permalink structure in WordPress? Have you ever pondered this question? Frequently, new users contact us with this question. This is due to the fact that, in the past, the default WordPress URL structure was not at all optimized for search engine optimization. The situation has changed since then, though. The purpose of this article is to explain how to create WordPress SEO-friendly URLs, as well as how to customize your WordPress permalink structure.
What is an SEO-Friendly URL, and how do I create one?
Before we get too far into the details of WordPress permalinks, it’s important to define what constitutes an SEO-friendly URL.
SEO Friendly URLs contain keywords that provide context for the article and are easy to read for both humans and search engines, according to Google. They also increase your chances of being ranked higher in search engines as a result of your efforts.
An example of a URL that is optimized for search engines:
So, how does a URL that is not searching engine friendly look like?
WordPress now defaults to including the post title in the URL, which is the most SEO-friendly URL structure available.
So why do newcomers continue to ask us for advice on the best permalink structure?
This is due to the fact that WordPress did not previously use visually appealing URLs, also known as permalinks. In the past, the default setting was the non-SEO-friendly example that we discussed above.
WordPress 5.2 brought about a change in this regard. If you have recently installed WordPress, then the URLs of your site are search engine friendly.
In the WordPress administration area, you can easily check the permalink settings you’ve made.
Detailed Instructions on Using the Permalink Settings Page
Permalinks are the names given to links in WordPress (short for permanent links). The terms permalink structure and URL structure will be used interchangeably throughout this document.
One of the first things you should do is navigate to the Permalinks settings page in your WordPress administration area.
Simply navigate to the Settings link in the admin menu and select Permalinks from the drop-down menu. If you click on this, you will be taken to a page that looks like this:
The number of options available is as you can see quite extensive.
- Day and name
- Month and name
- Post name
- Custom Structure
Choose your own URL structure using available tags.
Let us go over these options in more detail, as well as how beneficial they are for both users and search engine optimization.
The first option referred to as plain, used to be the default URL structure for the WordPress platform. This is not a search engine optimization-friendly option.
Because it contains the title of the post, the day and name option is somewhat SEO friendly. With dates, on the other hand, the URL becomes excessively long. But, more importantly, after a while, your content appears to be out of date, even if you are updating it on a regular basis. In a similar vein, the month and name options run the risk of appearing out of date.
The dates should be included in the URL of a news publication, however, to demonstrate its recent nature and improve the user experience for those who visit your site.
Those two structures, in our opinion, are only appropriate for news websites. The use of this technique should be avoided by businesses seeking to create evergreen content.
Because it is short and visually appealing, the post name option is the most SEO-friendly.
If you are running a larger publication, you can make use of a custom structure that is also search engine optimization friendly.
Our permalink structure at WPBeginner is unique in that it incorporates a category name into the URL, in addition to the post name. Due to the size of our site and the thousands of articles it contains, it is an excellent fit for us. You will notice that larger publications use a URL structure that is similar to this.
In order to make use of a custom URL structure, you must include special tags in the custom structure box. As an illustration, we use:
Take note of how each tag is surrounded by percent signs on each side. Take note of the trailing slashes / that appear before, after, and between the tags as well.
Creating a Custom URL Structure Using the Tags That Are Available
We recommend that you use one of the options listed above in order to achieve the best results. You can either copy the URL structure that we use on WPBeginner or you can use the post name as the URL structure for your website.
The use of tags, on the other hand, allows you to create an infinite number of different combinations. To help you create your own custom URL structure, we’ve compiled a list of tags you can use:
- %year% – The year of the post, four digits, for example, 2016.
- %monthnum% – Month of the year, for example, 05
- %day% – Day of the month, for example, 28
- %hour% – Hour of the day, for example, 15
- %minute% – Minute of the hour, for example, 43
- %second% – Second of the minute, for example, 33
- %postname% – A sanitized version of the title of the post (post slug field on Edit Post/Page panel). For example, if your post title is This Is A Great Post! It would become this-is-a-great-post in the URL.
- %post_id% – The unique ID # of the post, for example, 423
- %category% – A sanitized version of the category name (category slug field on New/Edit Category panel). Nested sub-categories appear as nested directories in the URI.
- %author% – A sanitized version of the author name.
It is important that you remember to click on the Save Changes button after you have chosen your permalink structure.
As soon as you click on the Save Changes button, WordPress will automatically update your site’s.htaccess file, and your site will begin using the new URL structure right away.
Warning sign: Important Information for Existing Sites
If your site has been up and running for more than six months, please refrain from making any changes to the permalink structure.
You are not required to follow the same structure that we did.
If you change the permalink structure of an established site, you will lose all of your social media shares and run the risk of losing your current SEO ranking as a result.
If you need to change your permalink structure, hire a professional to do so for you so that proper redirects can be set up. You’ll still lose your social share counts on the pages, so be prepared for that.
There is one exception to this rule, and it is as follows: If your website is still using plain URLs, it is recommended that you update the URL structure for better SEO, regardless of how old the site is. It is true that you will continue to lose social share counts, but the benefits far outweigh this disadvantage.
We hope that this article has assisted you in creating a URL structure for your WordPress site that is SEO friendly. In addition, you may want to review our guide on categories vs tags – SEO best practices for categorizing and organizing your content.