Every time you create a new page or post in WordPress, you generate a new permalink. What is a permalink? It is simply a link to your new page or post saved in your WordPress database for easy retrieval whenever someone accesses your website. In this post, we want to deal with the good, bad, and ugly of permalinks.
Actually, it’s not really a matter of the good, bad, and ugly. It’s about the ugly, almost pretty, and pretty permalinks that WordPress users have to work with. Allow us to explain.
WordPress developers sought to describe the three kinds of permalinks the CMS utilizes in simple terms the average site owner could understand. So they designated three terms that seem to work well:
- Ugly – Ugly permalinks are permalinks that utilize only alphanumeric symbols with no extensions on the end. You could create a brand-new post extolling the praises of some innovation within your industry only to have the generated permalink come back as something like http://yourdomainname.com/?p=22379. In this example, the number is an ID assigned to the post by the WordPress environment. It can be easily tracked in your database.
- Almost Pretty – WordPress has coined this term to describe permalinks that will be better for website visitors because they actually make sense. These kinds of links are referred to as PATHINFO permalinks because they are constructed using the name of the page or post along with its actual path within the file structure. An example of an almost pretty permalink would be http://yourdomainname.com/year/month/day/nameofpost/.
- Pretty – The last category of permalinks is the pretty category. They take the almost pretty concept and simplify to create a much cleaner link that visitors find easy to grasp. A pretty permalink would look something like this: http://yourdomainname.com/auniqueidentifier/nameofpost/.
Changing Your Permalink Structure
WordPress is set up to use ugly permalinks by default. If you go into your WordPress Settings, you can modify the permalink structure simply by clicking on the ‘Permalinks’ link. You’ll see that the ‘Plain’ setting is already selected for you; this is the setting for ugly links.
There are five additional choices to work with:
- Day and page/post name
- Month and page/post name
- Numeric only
- Page/post name only
- Custom structure
The last choice allows you to create your own permalink structure by defining parameters that are important to you. We recommend doing this only if you understand how permalinks affect search engine results. Otherwise, the best choice for SEO purposes would be one of the other options that include the page or post name.
Now you know the good, bad, and ugly of WordPress permalinks. If you don’t like the structure your website uses right now you can always change it in the WordPress settings. But be advised that changing the structure will not alter the permalinks of existing pages and posts; it will only affect future pages and posts.