How to Use WordPress Permalinks (for Cleaner URLs and Better SEO)

Permalinks are one of the least understood WordPress features. And yet, WordPress permalinks have a huge impact on the success of your blog or website. Use the right permalink settings and it’s easier for your visitors to share links to your website. Use the wrong permalinks and suddenly you have a bunch of unhappy users with broken links.

Beyond providing a good (or bad) user experience, permalinks can also have an impact on your website’s search engine rankings. While we don’t know the exact formula of the algorithms Google and other search engines use, we do know that the URL structure is a ranking factor.

If you’re struggling to make your site as user-friendly (and search engine friendly) as possible, spend a few minutes getting to know how WordPress permalinks work. It’s a very easy way to improve the quality of your website.

Unfortunately, WordPress’s default permalink settings are far from optimal. In fact, they’re downright bad.

This screencast demystifies permalinks by explaining what they are, why they’re so important, and finally, how you can improve the permalinks on your WordPress website. After viewing this video you’ll know exactly what to do to make your permalinks both human-friendly and search engine friendly.

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17 thoughts on “How to Use WordPress Permalinks (for Cleaner URLs and Better SEO)”

  1. Kirk- Thank you for this excellent resource! I have a WordPress book as reference, but while it explains the ‘what’, it often fails to explain the ‘how.’ Every video of yours I have watched so far has thoroughly explained and shown what I needed to learn. Nice work!

  2. Kirk,

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I’ve spent days trying to figure out how to fix my post and archive links on my website and after reading your Permalink tutorial I was able to repair it. Keep up the great work.

    Be well,
    Jenn

  3. This was very helpful. I have agonized over whether it was beneficial to put the category token in my permalinks, and although too late for this blog without doing a major fix, this information will be very helpful for future ventures. Thanks Kirk for the visual headsup.

  4. [email protected]

    I can’t find any ‘permalinks’ under the settings- has this changed since this video was made? In fact I can’t find a ‘permalinks under any of the dashboard settings. Please help.
    B

    1. @B You need administrative access to get to the Permalink settings. If you installed WordPress yourself you’ll have administrative access automatically. If someone else installed WordPress for you they may not have given you admin access. In that case you’ll need to contact your site administrator.

  5. Once again thanks for being so very clear – it’s all so simple when you ‘Know How’ – the problem is that most people are not able to teach the know how! Thanks

  6. Thank you for such valuable information. I am looking forward to more of your tutorials.

  7. I installed WordPress myself, opted for their upgrade to a website, am the only user and therefore the administrator, but I do not have “permalinks” under my Settings drop down.
    I do see, however, that the permalink at the top of my first blog contains the blog name as you suggest. Can’t figure out how to get the category in there.
    Ideas?

  8. William,
    Are you using WordPress.com by any chance? The admin is a little different there. You won’t have control over your permalinks. Also, no plugins or theme installations (although you can use the themes that are pre-installed).

  9. Kirk;
    I think I must be using WordPress.com. I went on their site, signed up for a blog and then, when they offered, “upgraded” to a website rather than a blog that seems to reside on their site. When I log into my blog the URL does not have the WordPress URL included; only my new website.
    This is not a big deal for this blog since it is my first and one for family members.
    But on the one I will “commecailize” (I’ll build it next, after I learn the ropes) I’m wondering if you recommend going the route of your tutorial and choosing another host, rather than going with the WordPress website..
    Thanks.

  10. William,
    Yep, your site is definitely on WordPress.com. The upgrade allows you to use your own custom domain name, so you won’t have WordPress.com in your site name.

    That’s a great way to get started and the best way to use WordPress.com. If you decide to move to a self-hosted WordPress site later you don’t have to worry about redirecting your visitors to a new site. Just export your content and import to a new version of WordPress installed on your web hosting account.

    As far as your future sites are concerned, you’ll probably want to setup a self-hosted WordPress site (wordpress.org) if you plan on “commercializing.” You can’t install plugins on WordPress.com, so you’ll be quite limited when it comes to setting up anything that might generate revenue.

  11. Excellent information (again). I really like your idea of adding categories to your post name for improved search. Would this be advisable for pages as well as posts? My thinking is that a general category like your “food” example would enhance clarity for such pages as “Overview”. If I added a “sales” or “selling skills” category, Overview might get picked up more often – and it is a page that really explains the product.

    On the other hand, I seem to remember that we’re better to leave Categories alone except on Posts – but it’s been a while since I viewed that video.

    Thanks for your help – and huge thanks for this program!

    Linda

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