Changing your permalink structure might have a big influence on the SEO of your website. In this post, we will define, explain why they are important, and show you how to change permalinks for improved search engine exposure.
Having all your subpages follow a logical naming structure can help search engines understand your site's URLs better. This can increase not only the amount of visitors from search engine results. Consider potential visitors as well, because an optimized permalink structure can help them find the content they are looking for quicker.
As previously said, this article describes how to change permalinks in WordPress as well as what a permalink is. To supplement the information presented here, we have written an additional article that is dedicated to the topic of permalink SEO tips. All of this information should help you understand what is a permalink and choose the best WordPress permalink structure for your website.
If the default permalink system is insufficient for you, you may enhance it using a plugin. This article contains a shortlist of WordPress plugins for customizing permalinks. These tools can help modify the URL structure on your site.
What Is the Definition of “Permalink”?
You may have come across the term "permalink" in the past. The word appears not only within WordPress but also many other websites. If you have ever wondered what one is, it is not difficult to explain.
Actually, the name practically defines itself. It is short for "permanent link," a term constructed by combining two words. It refers, technically speaking, to the whole URL address that is assigned to a specific post, page, or category.
The word "permanent" suggests that even if the website changes, this particular link should, in principle, remain intact. In addition to this explanation, you need to know one more interesting thing about permalinks. Because of their format, permalinks make it much easier to share a link to a specific location on a website.
URLs and Permalinks
Even if you do not know what they are, you use URLs whether you realize it or not. This is because the opened page's URL is always visible in the browser. Some use "permalink" and a "URL" interchangeably, but they are actually two different things.
In general, all permalinks can also be considered URLs. This is so because permalinks are a subset of a URL, which is a more general term. While every permalink matches the definition of a URL, not every URL is automatically a permalink.
What Is the Difference Between Slugs and Permalinks?
As we have already addressed the distinction between URL and permalink, we will now go over one more complimentary definition. To understand how to change permalinks, we must first define a WordPress slug.
Slugs are often mistaken with permalinks. The illustration below shows that a slug is only one component of a permalink. The slug is usually placed at the end of post, page, custom post type, and term (e.g. category) permalinks. The slug is usually placed at the end of post, page, custom post type, and term (e.g. category) permalinks.
The sections that follow will show you two distinct ways to change permalink in WordPress. The first option requires you to install the Permalink Manager plugin before making the adjustments. The second one is based on native settings and comes pre-installed, however it lacks versatility.
Changing Your WordPress' URL Structure Without Plugins
You should now be able to tell the difference between a permalink, a slug, and a URL. This section will go over the default WordPress settings. For many, the standard tools may offer enough flexibility without needing an additional solution such as plugin.
Choose a Permalink Structure
The default permalink format in WordPress is not SEO-friendly since it includes numbers and query strings in the URL. For example, the default URL for a page may be like follows:
Since they are not particularly useful, permalinks structured in this way are not commonly used. The URL above provides no context or meaning for visitors or search engines. You can see why it is a good idea to alter the standard permalink structure to something more relevant now.
WordPress provides a number of different permalink structures for users to select from. To access them, navigate to Settings > Permalinks in your WordPress dashboard.
The following are the most common permalink structures. If you are interested, the WordPress documentation contains further information on this feature.
This structure use the standard URL syntax, which contains the post ID. That is not good for SEO or user experience.
- Day and name:
This format includes the post's date and title in the URL. It is appropriate for news or magazine websites.
- Month and post name:
This permalink structure includes the month and post name in the URL. It is appropriate for blogs or websites that publish content on a monthly basis.
This structure just contains the post ID. That is not good for SEO or user experience.
- Post name:
This structure just contains the post name. It is the best structure for SEO and user experience.
How to Change an Individual Permalink?
Editing permalinks is actually a very simple operation. The exact location of the permalink is determined by the version of the WordPress editor you are using. In either scenario, open the post or page whose permalink you want to alter after entering into your WordPress dashboard.
Even if you are absolutely unfamiliar with the WordPress interface, you should have no problem locating it.
The permalink field becomes visible as soon as you open the editing panel in Classic Editor. Under the title field, find the "Edit" button displayed next to the permalink. All you have to do is click it to change the permalink.
The procedure is the same if you use the new Gutenberg editor. First, locate the "Summary" area on the right sidebar. When you find it, you will notice a "URL" field.
To open the popup, simply click the link displayed there. When you do this, a dedicated field appears where you may modify the slug, which is a section of the complete permalink.
How to Create a Permalink?
By following the instructions above, you can now quickly change the permalink in WordPress. But, understanding how this CMS creates and handles permalinks is essential for gaining a deeper knowledge of the process.
WordPress's built-in permalinks are automatically generated from the slugs we mentioned before. As a result, after you have saved the post or term, you do not need to do anything else to get WordPress to create a permalink.
Most Popular Plugins for Changing Permalinks
Perhaps the most well-known issue with WordPress is the lack of ability to change permalinks freely. It is because, WordPress provides with a few basic URL structure choices. The guidelines below describe how to use the plugin to replace the URL rewriting system included into the WordPress core.
When the default settings for customizing permalinks are insufficient, there are plugins that provide more flexibility. They allow users to fine-tune the permalink structure of their website to meet their individual requirements. Unfortunately, there are not many reliable options, however the most popular plugins for changing WordPress permalinks are "Custom Permalinks", "Permalink Manager" and "Custom Post Type Permalinks".
Permalink Manager can help you quickly rewrite your permalinks if you do not like what WordPress has to offer out of the box. Notably, the plugin is compatible with custom post types and taxonomies created by third-party plugins and custom code. Furthermore, it seamlessly integrates with Pods, Custom Post Type UI, Toolset Types, and WooCommerce.
How Can You Change Permalink For One Page?
If your site does not have a big number of pages it may also be a good idea to manually adjust each URL address individually. To use the URI Editor included in the plugin, click the "Permalink Manager" button shown next to the URL address. It is worth noting that the URI Editor may be used not only to change page permalink, but also to alter the URL addresses of individual posts, categories, custom post types, and taxonomies.
If you are a Gutenberg user, you can locate the URI Editor at the bottom of the sidebar, where you may change permalinks with Permalink Manager
You may both alter them either directly when you modify the text content or quickly review and adjust multiple URLs at once using the Bulk URI Editor.
How to Edit Page Permalinks in Bulk?
As illustrated below, you may change the permastructures for each post type and taxonomy separately. You have complete control over how they are modified.
Custom Permalinks is another popular WordPress plugin that allows users to customize their permalinks. The plugin has received good reviews from users, confirming its usefulness and effectiveness in modifying permalinks. Users enjoy its simplicity and user-friendly interface.
Regarding documentation, Custom Permalinks offers only the most fundamental instructions on how to use the plugin. Undoubtedly, more explanations and examples for dealing with possible issues could improve the documentation. The plugin has received positive user feedback, suggesting its utility and effectiveness in modifying permalinks. Users like its simplicity and user-friendly interface.
The plugin has all the necessary features for customizing permalinks, so users can make URL structures that suit their needs. However, it lacks certain additional features seen in other permalink plugins.
Custom Post Type Permalinks
The plugin known as Custom Post Type Permalinks does exactly what its name implies. It allows to change the URL structure of custom post types. It is a popular and reliable permalink plugin, but there are a few things to consider before making your final decision.
A lot of people will appreciate the straightforward interface and helpful documentation. Unfortunately, there is one drawback that may be essential for some. The most recent version was released in 2021. The issue here is that a lack of updates may cause compatibility problems with the most recent versions of WordPress and other plugins.
How To Change WordPress Permalinks Without Losing Traffic?
How Does Changing Permalinks Impact SEO?
As mentioned in previous sections of this post, the URL structure of your website may have an impact on both UX and SEO. Google, for example, recommends arranging content such that URLs are formed logically and in a way that viewers can understand. This is only one of a few Google tips, so if you are interested, we recommend looking at others.
When you modify your permalink structure, it is possible that previously functional URLs will lead to 404 errors when visited. Backlinks are a crucial SEO factor, and modifying permalinks might result in their loss.
When other websites link to your content, the permalink is generally used to point to the exact page or post. If you modify it without setting up a redirect, the referring backlinks will become invalid, resulting in a loss of prospective traffic.
As Google Search Central indicated in the video, altering URLs may make it difficult for search engines to crawl and index your website.
Changing permalinks can also have an impact on social sharing. Visitors often share the URLs via social media, and if you change the permalink, the shared links will become invalid, resulting in a loss of potential traffic and social signals.
Common Mistakes to Avoid While Changing Permalinks
There are times when changing the structure of your website is unavoidable. Even if you make small adjustments to your permalinks, it might cause SEO issues if not carried out correctly.
This is especially true if they have a high ranking in search results. Before taking any action, think it over.
If you have determined that changing the current URLs will have more advantages than disadvantages, proceed cautiously. There are a few good reasons to change your website's permalinks:
- You have modified the structure of your website's content, such as merging two webpages into one.
- The old URLs were hard to read because they were just random strings of letters or numbers instead of text that explained what the page was about.
Changing permalinks is still a risky SEO move, and you must have a plan in place to prevent any negative impact on your search engine position. Verify that the new URLs and redirects have been fully tested, and regularly monitor your website's traffic and ranking after making the change.
Mistake 1: Not Creating Redirects
When you modify the permalinks, the previous URLs become invalid, and anybody attempting to visit them will receive a 404 error. Because search engines cannot find the information, this might hurt your search engine rankings.
As a result, it is critical to set up redirects from the old URLs to the new ones. This will notify the search engines that the content has been permanently shifted. This redirect transfers link equity from the old page to the new one, reducing major SEO ranking loss.
Mistake 2: Changing Permalinks Too Often
Changing permalinks too frequently might cause confusion for both search engines and people. It might also hurt your website's visibility in search engines. This means you should only modify your permalinks when absolutely necessary.
Mistake 3: Not Using Descriptive Permalinks
Users and search engines favor URL structures that precisely describe the content of the linked page. When you use generic permalinks, it can impact your search engine rankings and user experience. For this reason, it is crucial to make use of permalinks that are descriptive and that appropriately serve the contents of the page.
How Long Does It Typically Take for Google to Index URL Changes?
It's difficult to determine the exact timeframe for Google to remove old permalinks and index new URLs. In general, Google may take a few weeks to a few months to fully crawl and index your website. Your website's page changes can take effect at different speeds depending on various factors. The size of your website, the number of modified pages, and the frequency of Google crawling your site are all factors to consider.
You may speed up the process by requesting a re-crawl of your website using Google Search Console. This will cause Google to reindex your website's pages and update its search results faster.