If you are still using the default permalinks settings in WordPress, then you need to go and change the settings immediately after you finish reading this post!
Before you publish a single page or blog post on your new WordPress site you should change the default permalinks settings. In fact, when I build WordPress sites for clients it’s dang-near the very first thing I do. It also will save you the time of having to redirect any existing URLs to your new SEO-friendly permalinks.
The default settings for permalinks in WordPress are absolutely horrible for SEO. Just horrible! They are created using URL parameters and they have no meaning to humans or search engines.
Changing the setting to Post Name (/%postname%/) is usually the best practice – if you don’t see this option then you don’t have the most recent WordPress upgrade. Some people like to use /%category%/%postname%/, which will work. I recommend to my clients to use the %postname% settings. That’s how this site’s permalink structure is set up.
Why is this better than those ugly dynamic URLs?
- WordPress’ default URL parameters are frowned upon by King Google and other search engines.
- These two permalink structures above best describe your content.
- These permalinks are great for both search engines and human visitors alike.
- The default dynamic permalink structure will most likely decrease click through rates.
Search engine results are one of the first places people will see your permalink structure. It is one of several factors we all consider when determining what result we eventually click on when we perform a search. Seeing a permalink structure that further describes your webpage will only increase the odds that people will click on it.
If you already have an established website with tons of pages and blog posts, then you may need a little help in the form of a plugin. If you were to just go and change the permalink structure of your website right now, all of your old URLs will be moved to the the new URL structure, which is not good. This will effectively break all of your old URLs – resulting in 404 errors which is no bueno. Instead, use one of the plugins below which were created by Automattic developer John Godley – Automattic is the company that started WordPress.com.
I hope this helps to lift any potential fog you may have when it comes to the importance of permalink structure.