This article explains what is the best WordPress permalink structure and gives you 10 tips for creating SEO-friendly permalinks.
What Is a Permalink?
But first, what is a permalink?
A WordPress permalink is the part of a web page URL that comes after the first forward slash in the URL. In WordPress jargon, its also called a ‘slug’:
The best WordPress permalink structure is one that tells both humans and search engines what the page is about.
Here are 10 tips for creating permalinks that will improve your SEO.
#1. Use the ‘Postname’ Option
In your WordPress dashboard, if you go to Settings > Permalinks, you’ll see the 6 options available for permalink structure:
‘Plain’ is the least user-friendly because it’s not memorable and doesn’t tell the user what the post or page is about.
Options #2 and #3, which include tags for year, month, and date are good for news sites, where it’s important to know when a story was published.
But they’re not good for a blog as your content is effectively ‘time stamped’. If you’re creating evergreen content the last thing you want is a date.
‘Numeric’ (Option #4) creates a URL that is not good for either humans or search engines, as it doesn’t indicate what the post is about.
Custom Structure allows you to use a combination of tags in the URL, such as ‘year’, ‘author’, ‘category’ etc. This will create a longer URL, so ‘custom structure’ should be avoided.
The best option for your WordPress permalink structure is ‘Post name’: it’s simple and keeps your URL as short as possible.
#2. Use Your Keyword in the Permalink
Another rule for creating a good WordPress permalink structure is to include your keyword.
Using your keyword in the permalink signals to Google and other search engines what your article or blog post is about.
It will help you rank for that keyword in the search results.
Ideally, your ‘slug’ (the part of the URL that comes after your domain name) should contain the keyword alone.
For example, if your blog post is about ‘tips for creating lead magnets’, your ideal permalink your be: https://yourdomain.com/creating-lead-magnets
#3. Don’t Let WordPress Create Your Slug For You
By default, WordPress will create a slug for you. WordPress simply takes the title of your post and turns it into a permalink.
But the permalink will be way too long.
Here’s an example:
The full text of the slug that WordPress added is this:
Remove everything that WP inserted except for the keyword (‘creating lead magnets’).
#4. Separate Words With Hyphens
Separate the words in your permalink with hyphens. Otherwise neither search engines nor humans will understand (from the permalink what the page is about:
Instead of this:
You need a WordPress permalink structure that both humans and search engines understand and that’s why you should separate words with hyphens.
#5. Don’t Use Dates in your Permalink
Never include the year of publication in your permalink.
Your content may be ‘evergreen’, as valid today as it was when you wrote it. But if your permalink contains a date from 3 or 5 years ago, very few people will click on it in the search results.
#6. Remove ‘Stop’ Words from Your Permalink
Stop words are words such as ‘at’, ‘any’, ‘before’, ‘which’.
They are words that don’t help search engines understand what your content is about.
Using them in your permalink is therefore a waste of valuable space.
Removing stop words from your permalink will give you more space for keywords and results in a better WordPress permalink structure.
#7. Use HTTPS in Your Permalink
HTPPS at the front of your permalink indicates that your domain has an SSL certificate.
Domains that have SSL certificates are more secure than domains that don’t.
If you don’t have an SSL certificate, information passing between your website and your visitors can be intercepted by hackers.
In 2014, Google announced that it would start using SSL as a ranking signal (a website with an SSL certificate has a URL beginning with HTTPS):
If your site doesn’t begin with HTTPS, it won’t rank as high in the search results as a website that does.
#8. Don’t Use Categories in Your Permalink
Categories are an additional section that some people add to their URLs.
In this example, the category is /email-marketing/:
Categories may have some value.
They allow you to add more keywords to the URL and they help search engines and humans understand how your site is organized.
But categories make your permalink longer.
And they also create the possibility of accidentally having duplicate content (i.e. the same post published under different categories).
Your permalinks will look tidier and be more legible without categories.
Do you already have categories in your permalinks and want to remove them?
Here’s how to do it:
1. Go to Settings > Permalinks
2. In ‘Custom Structure’ add /%category%/%postname%/ after your domain
3. In ‘Category Base’ insert a single dot in the empty field
4. Click ‘Save’
Download and install the ‘Remove Category URL’ plugin:
Then follow the plugin instructions.
#9. Keep Your Permalinks as Short as Possible
Shorter URLs perform better in the search results.
The shorter the URL, the better from an SEO standpoint.
Moz suggests keeping your URLs under 100 characters, but a study by backlinko suggests URLs should be even shorter.
Backlinko studied the average length of URLs in the top 10 positions across more than 1 M Google search results.
These are the average characters per URL they found:
- Position #1 – 50 characters
- Position #2 – 55 characters
- Position #3 – 57 characters
- Position #4 – 58 characters
- Position #5 – 59 characters
Here’s the chart showing Backlinko’s findings:
#10. Don’t Change the URL of a Post or Page
It is sometimes tempting to change the permalink of an individual blog post. This might be because you found a better keyword or because you want to add a keyword to the slug.
But you should never change the URL of a published blog post. That URL has been indexed by the search engines and if you change it, you harm the SEO of your website.
If you absolutely must change the URL of an individual article or blog post, the best way to do it is with a 301 redirect.
The permalink of your web page tells search engines and humans alike what your page is about. So it’s an important part of the SEO of your website.
Follow these 10 tips for best permalink structure, and you’ll improve the search engine visibility of your website.