WordPress Permalinks Simply Explained

How to properly use WordPress Permanent Links

  1. What are permalinks
  2. Forms of WP permalinks
  3. Useful WordPress permalink plugins

What are permalinks

WordPress Permalinks

Permalink, short for “permanent link,” is a term used to describe a friendly URL intended to remain unchanged as long as the website itself lives. The usage of permanent links is widespread in the blogosphere. Permanent links in WordPress are needed, for example, to point to the same page on the blog with the constantly growing post number. When you set up your WordPress website, one of the main tasks is resolving the issue with permanent links.

The default address in WordPress looks like “www.site.com/?p=12345”. This kind of permalink form is not user-friendly. Such an address is entirely unreadable. And worse, such an address doesn’t say anything to the search engines.

Thus it’s also not SEO-friendly.

Therefore, in the WordPress settings, there’s a special section in which you can set the form of permanent links to a human-readable.

Forms of WP permalinks

By default, WordPress offers five types of permanent links. In addition to the “Default” variant there are four more predefined types of links:

  • Day and Name”: http://site.com/2017/10/2/postname
  • Month and Name”: http://site.com/2017/10/postname
  • Post Name”: http://site.com/postname
  • Numeric”: http://site.com/posts/12345 – in this case, the id of the page is not transmitted by a parameter “?p=”, but is contained in a link. This variant is not fundamentally different from the default variant.

With each of these four kinds of permanent links, everything is clear. In addition to these four permalink types, there’s another option, “Custom”. In this case, the administrator can customize the permanent link structure using custom variables:

  • % year% - publication year
  • % monthnum% - publication month
  • % day% - publication day
  • % hour% - publication hour
  • % minute% - publication minute
  • % second% - publication second
  • % post_id% - the identifier of the post
  • % postname% - post name
  • % category% - post category
  • % author% - author’s name
  • % tag% - post tag

By using any of these variables in the custom order, you can construct a permanent link address of almost any form. If publication time is irrelevant, it’s a smart idea to use /%post_id%%postname% structure. This means that the permalink is formed by a unique number (which improves the speed of finding a post in a WordPress database) and the words from the title, which is good for SEO.

WordPress Permalinks

Useful WordPress permalink plugins

Also, there are few WordPress plugins that may help to work with permalinks:

Velvet Blues Update URLs is a WordPress plugin that can update all of your links. All you need to do is enter the old address, specify a new address and choose the type of links to update.

Velvet Blues Update URLs
Velvet Blues Update URLs
Developer: VelvetBlues.com
Price: Free

Advanced Permalinks carries a significant functionality with which you can make a migration from the old scheme of permanent links to a new one without losing rating in search results.

Advanced Permalinks
Advanced Permalinks
Developer: John Godley
Price: Free

Setting up permanent links should be done at the very beginning of the website creation. Otherwise, when there will be a lot of posts, and you decide to change your site’s structure, the re-indexing of pages may fail.

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Permalink, short for “permanent link”, is a term used to describe a friendly URL intended to remain unchanged for a long period of time (usually as long as the website itself lives). The usage of permalinks is very common in blogosphere.


In WordPress permalink settings can be accessed in the admin panel in the “Main Settings” menu. By default WordPress offers five types of permalinks: “Default”, “Day and Name”, “Month and Name”, “Post Name” and “Numeric”. You can also use your own custom permalink structure as the sixth option. In this article we’ll discuss why it’s better to never choose the “Default” option, which is automatically enabled when WordPress is installed. The default permalink structure is not user-friendly. The default permalink address looks like “www.site.com/?p=12345”. The part at the end of the permalink, the “?p=12345” is as a query string. The question mark is a separator and the number is the identifying data, identifying the content from a specific row in the WordPress website. This number tells WordPress where the needed content is located in the database. The number refers to the ID of the table row in the “wp_posts” table of the WordPress database For example, “?p=45” would refer to the 45th row in the website’s database “wp_posts” table. But as database may include thousands of entries, your permalink can look like “www.site.com/?p=463536”, which is not easy to remember.

Also, default permalinks are not search engine friendly. Search engines can index URLs that contain query strings, however, they do prefer you to use “friendlier” URLs, cause a structured URL with keywords will make it easier for search engines to crawl the pages. Except the default permalink structure other four that WordPress offers are search engine and user friendly. These permalink structures are sometimes referred to as “Clean URLs”. When you select one of the four other common permalink structures that WordPress offers, you’ll see the “custom structure” field change. The tags that will appear in this field are structure tags. There are ten structure tags that can be used.

Among them, to create a clean URL, most WordPress websites use one of the four most usable permalink structures:

  • “Post Name”, that looks like “www.site.com/postname/”. “Post Name” is very popular among WordPress bloggers because it generates short and easy to remember URLs.
  • “Category and Name” looks like “www.site.com/category/name/”. “Category and Name” creates a hierarchical structure of content on the website or blog and ensures that visitors know what category they are currently viewing.
  • “Day and Name” looks like “www.site.com/2017/08/20/what-happened-today/”. Most websites with a high posting frequency, like mass media, use the “Day and Name” permalink structure. It makes them sure that their URLs will the exact date when the article was published.
  • “Month and Name” looks like “www.site.com/2017/08/what-happened-this-month/”. It’s the same structure as previous, just two characters shorter than “Day and Name”.

The “Post Name” and “Category and Name” are more suited for non-mass media permalinks, as they don’t specify the date an article was published. They can be used if the content they refer too will still be relevant for many years, like recipes or encyclopedia articles.

Related terms:

Deep linking, broken link, bandwidth, browser, DOCTYPE, domain, FTP

References and further reading:

Anton Vosko

Being a part of the TemplateMonster team is a great pleasure. I write about templates, marketing secrets, presentation tips, and different CMS. Hope my articles will be useful to you. If yes - please leave me a comment. Besides that, you can also meet me on Quora.

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