Have you ever wondered how to get nice, neat, short URLs for your blog posts?
There’s nothing worse than long, complicated URLs full of random numbers, letters and symbols. I mean, they’re not exactly practical for sharing, are they?!
“Hey Holly, have you got a blog post about permalinks?”
“Yeah sure, go to hollypryce.com/?p=50”
Not to mention the fact that URLs like this are not very SEO friendly. For starters, they don’t contain that all important keyword!
But rather annoyingly, WordPress is set up to show URLs like this by default. However, it is possible to update these URLs, known as permalinks, to make them shorter and to optimise them for SEO.
In this post, I’m going to explain what a permalink is, how you can update the settings on your WordPress site so that your URLs are a lot shorter and neater. I’m also going to share a plugin with you that will redirect your links, and give you some advice about making your URLs SEO friendly.
What is a permalink?
A permalink (short for permanent link) is simply the URL of any post or page on a website. So, if you take a look at the address bar you will see that the permalink for this page is https://hollypryce.com/permalinks.
How do I update permalinks on my WordPress site?
In the WordPress admin area, navigate to Settings then Permalinks in the left-hand menu.
You will see a number of options for permalinks. If you have not updated the permalink settings before, the option “Plain” will probably be selected by default.
Personally, I always choose the “Post name” option as it creates a neat and tidy URL. It simply shows the blog post name, with hyphens separating each word.
However, you might choose to set up your permalinks differently. You might want to include the date the post was published or the category that the post is published under. And you can do this using the other permalink options. It is entirely up to you how you format your URLs, but I advise you check out my SEO tips later on in this post before making a decision.
…but I don’t want the URL to contain the entire blog post name!
I get it; if your blog post has a long name then you’ll have a long URL. That’s not ideal.
For example, the title of this blog post is “How to update your permalinks in WordPress to improve your URLs” so naturally, the URL would be https://hollypryce.com/how-to-update-your-permalinks-in-wordpress-to-improve-your-urls.
Imagine me telling someone that in a conversation!
But it is possible to change the permalink of each individual blog post and make them shorter. And actually, I recommend you do change the permalink for each post for SEO reasons.
You will find the permalink for the post underneath the post title. Click Edit to change the URL.
So again, using this post as an example, I have updated the permalink https://hollypryce.com/permalinks, which is much better than what it was before!
Best practice for SEO
When editing your permalinks, it’s important to consider SEO. Here are some tips:
- Ensure that your URL contains the keyword for the post.
- Also, make sure that the keyword is near the start of the URL as keyword effectiveness in URLs decreases as keyword position increases (hence why I suggest choosing the Post name option for your permalinks!).
- Make sure your URL simple, compelling, accurate and relevant.
- Keep your URLs definitive but concise.
- Use hyphens (-) to separate words rather than an underscore (_).
- Always use lowercase letters.
What about the old URLs?
Ok, in an ideal world you would have updated your permalinks in WordPress when you initially set up your website or blog. In fact, it’s something that I do, and suggest everyone does, every time I set up a new WordPress blog.
But it’s more than likely that you already have a lot of posts up on your blog, all with their long, messy URLs.
And the problem here is that if you change your permalink settings and someone tries to visit your blog using a URL that is in the old format then they’re going to be met with a broken page as that URL doesn’t exist anyone.
Don’t worry! This problem can be resolved with a redirect plugin.
I recommend a plugin called Redirection which currently has over 900,000 active installations.
To install this plugin, sign in to your WordPress admin area and go to Plugins then Add New. Search for “Redirection” and you should find a plugin that looks like this:
Install and activate the plugin. Once you have done this, you will be able to set up redirections by going to Tools, then Redirections.
To create a redirect, insert a Source URL (the URL you are directing from i.e. the URL before you updated the permalink settings) and a Target URL (the URL you are redirecting to i.e. the URL after you updated the permalink settings). Then click “Add Redirect“.
For a more detailed overview of how this plugin works, check out the support pages on the Redirection plugin website.
You will need to set up a redirect for every post and page as changing the permalinks structure will update all the URLs on your website.
Need a hand?
Updating permalinks and setting up redirects can be a long and tedious job, especially if you have a lot of posts and pages.
If you would like someone to do this work for you, I can help! Check out my WordPress Maintenance and Updates page for more information.
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Have you updated the permalinks on your WordPress site? Is it something you would consider doing?
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