The permalink structure you choose can impact   your website’s search engine optimization (SEO) . WordPress lets you select from multiple URL formats , but not all of them are SEO friendly or easy to use. Therefore, understanding how permalinks work in WordPress and their impact on SEO is essential. That’s why we’ll introduce you to permalinks and the options WordPress offers, then explain how permalinks and SEO go hand in hand.


A permalink is a URL. When we talk about  permalinks in WordPress  , we are referring to the URL structure you use on your website. By default, new WordPress sites use a link format similar to the following for pages and posts:

xanderblog.com/?p=123

This is the “simple” permalink structure. The number at the end of the URL corresponds to a specific post or page ID, but until you click on that link, you don’t know where it leads.

Beyond that basic structure, WordPress offers many other options for permalinks, especially if you’re  using WooCommerce  .

WordPress allows you to change your site’s permalink structure at any time. However, we usually recommend choosing a URL format as early in your site’s life as possible and always sticking to it. Editing permalinks gets messier as your website grows and develops a large library of content. That growth means updating dozens or hundreds of URLs and having to wait for search engines to do the same. Additionally, when URLs change, you can lose important backlinks to your site, but the links to them don’t.

As a general rule, the best options for permalink structures are the  post name  or a custom layout that adds the category to the URL so it looks like this:

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xanderblog.com/categorie/nome-post

In the following sections, we’ll discuss why these are your two best options. For now, let’s talk about the connection between URL structure and SEO.

There is a clear correlation between permalinks and SEO. Google considers your URLs as  ranking factors  . In short, the search engine uses permalinks to gain information about your content and position it accordingly in its search engine results pages (SERPs ).

URLs should provide some information about the content of a page which you can’t get with a link like  yourwebsite.com/?p=123.

If your permalinks are not related to your content, Google may not rank them high in relevant search results. Plus, you might turn away potential readers: If they see confusing links, users are less likely to click on them and read your articles.

Permalinks are fully customizable and WordPress also offers a number of variables so you can set them up however you like. Now we’ll explore some of the different options for your posts and pages.

Setting the URL Slug in a post or page

WordPress automatically generates a URL for every page and post you publish. However, you can check the last part of the link, called the “ slug ”.

In the following URL, the slug is post-name  :

xanderblog.com/nome-post

When using the WordPress editor, you can update a page’s slug by opening the  post  settings in the Block Editor . The Post settings tab  has a section called Permalinks. Inside you will find a URL Slug field  . Contains the slug that WordPress generates from the title of the post or page.

When you set a title for a post or page, WordPress uses it to generate a slug. Includes each word in the title, separated by hyphens.

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For short titles, you might want to leave the slug as is. However, we generally recommend cutting part of it to make the URL more concise.

Decide how many words the URL Slug should include

URL slugs should be relatively short and direct. In most cases, 2-6 words in length gives you enough space to  include the main keyword of the article and reduce unnecessary parts of the title  .

Take the title of this post, for example, which is “How Do Permalinks Affect SEO?”. Instead of keeping the entire title as the post slug, we shortened it to:  /permalink-seo

These two words are enough to let you know what you will read if you see the URL in the SERPs. The link also provides information to Google about the topic of the post. Ideally, you’ll also include the keywords you want to target in the URL slug. If this post was specifically about keywords in permalinks (like the next section being the entire post), we could choose  /permalinks-keywords-seo  to better fit what Google and users would expect.

If you are targeting a specific keyword (or more) in your content, it should be part of the slug. Ideally, you’ll include your main keyword in both your title and slug (and your meta description !). This way, everything will seem natural once users read the post title.

Since you need to keep slugs relatively short, it may be difficult to include multiple keywords in fewer than five words. In most cases, it’s best to focus on your main keyword phrase. This way, your slug will be concise and you will avoid  keyword stuffing  in your URLs.

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Many WordPress websites add  categories and/or tags  to their permalink structures. Putting the category in front of a blog post slug is like this example:

xanderblog.com/categorie/slug

Adding categories and tags to your slugs might be a good idea if you run a website with a lot of content and multiple categories. This way, you can avoid confusion between similar URLs. However, this approach typically only works well if you have short category names.

However, URLs can quickly get out of hand when adding multiple categories to a blog post or using tags with numerous words. Both users and search engines prefer short, more relevant and easy-to-understand URLs.

If you decide to add categories to your WordPress permalinks, be sure to assign  one  category per page or blog post. This way, you can keep URLs short. Also, don’t be afraid to update category names if your current taxonomy uses multiple words.

Conclusion

When browsing a website, it can be easy to not pay attention to the URLs of the pages you are visiting. However, these links play a significant role in SEO. Search engines prefer short URLs. Additionally, using permalink structures with descriptive slugs can improve your site’s ranking.

We recommend keeping URL slugs between two and five words for the best possible results. You can also benefit from including keywords. In most cases, the main keyword for each page or post will be an excellent URL slug. Additionally, WordPress makes it easy to update your website’s permalink structure.

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