How to Configure WordPress Permalink Settings (Full Guide)

If you have optimized WordPress permalinks settings, it will boost your SEO and make your website more easily navigable. This is very crucial if you’re for the long-term success of your website. Furthermore, having customized WordPress permalinks makes your website more user-friendly. In this post, we are going to discuss how you can configure WordPress Permalink settings.

If you don’t know what permalinks are, don’t worry, we will discuss what it is as well. Permalinks not only enhance your search rankings, but they also help you and your readers navigate your website better. Normally many professional WordPress themes come with customized permalink settings. But in case you don’t have that, you can manually customize the permalinks.

In this post, we will discuss what are WordPress permalinks, how to change your WordPress permalink settings, and much more. So let’s get started!

What is a WordPress permalink?

The first question is, what are the WordPress permalinks? As we have discussed above, the permalinks are the links or URLs to your site and each page of your site. To be short and precise, permalinks are basically URLs of your WordPress website pages. These are the permanent URLs of your site, blog posts, pages, categories, tags, and any other piece of taxonomy on your WordPress site.

Basically, if you have any visible web pages, they will have permalinks. You can configure your permalinks from Settings > Permalinks of your WordPress dashboard. 

wordpress permalink settings

Here you can choose between 5 permalink structure presets. Each of these presets will appear here in the permalink settings option. These 5 permalink structure presets are as follows:

  • Plain: It uses the post ID as the query string as the slug
  • Day and name: It will use the year, month, and day along with the post title as slug
  • Month and name: It will use the month, year and the post title as a slug. This is almost the same as the Day and name preset only it will exclude the day.
  • Numeric: It uses the post ID under an archive as the slug.
  • Post name: The post name will be used only. Generally, this is the configuration most blogs go with.

You can also set a custom structure for your permalinks. The final field with the label custom structure allows you to set your own permalinks based on the post’s metadata and publishing info. For example, there are variables such as %year%, %monthnum%, %day%, %category%, etc. you can use to customize your permalinks.

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Before You Change Your Permalinks

Before you go on and customize your permalinks, it is important to keep a few things in mind. It is also important to know how the permalinks work on your posts and pages.

Permalinks work differently for posts and pages

You might already have guessed that permalinks for pages and posts are a bit different. Your pages will always use the post name option while the posts will use whatever structure you’ve chosen in your Permalink settings. 

Therefore, the “Page” links will not adapt to any changes you make and this is a good thing. So if you’re worrying that your “Contact Us” page will show up as https://example/2023/01/contact.html then you can rest easy as that won’t happen. It only applies to your posts.

Permalink and slugs are different

Another thing to keep in mind are that slugs and permalink are not the same. The terminologies used in WordPress might be a bit confusing. So to clear things up, permalinks are the URL structure for your site while the slug is the final part of the permalink that identifies specific content.

Let us look at an example to make things clear. Let’s say that we have a website whose URL is https://example.com. Now if we have a post called “Welcome to the future of WordPress with Gutenberg”, now the URL structure will be https://example.com/blog/category/welcome-to-the-future-of-wordpress-with-gutenberg, here “welcome-to-the-future-of-wordpress-with-gutenberg” is the slug.

post slug in wordpress quick edit

Slugs can be anything you want and you can even change the slug at any time. However, it is not recommended to change your slug often because it has a high impact on SEO. Slugs stay the same even if you change the permalink structure, so no worries there.

Different Permalink Structures and when to use these

As you’ve already seen, WordPress gives you 5 permalink structure presets to work with. Generally, these are suitable for most blog or website types. If it isn’t to your liking, then you can use the customized permalink field to choose your own structure. Now the question is when to use these presets.

For many blog-type websites, the Post name preset is suitable. This sets up your permalinks according to the title or name of your post. But bloggers sometimes want to organize their permalinks differently. Let’s take a look at when to use different permalink structures.

Plane

By default, WordPress uses the plane permalink. The settings aren’t very user-friendly and it makes it difficult for you and your users to identify posts and pages. For this reason, it is a good idea to change your permalink right after you setup your WordPress website.

plain permalink preset

The plain structure isn’t good for SEO as there’s no scope to insert keywords. This format also uses Post ID and query string as the permalink. You or your users might not remember the post ID and search engines won’t scan any keywords or topics. As a result, some search bots might think your site isn’t legit!

When to use Plain permalink structure then? Plain permalink structures are never a good idea. We recommend not using it at all.

Day and Name, Month and Name

The next two permalink presets are the Day and Name and Month and Name. These have limited uses but it does have usefulness. If you’re running a news, magazine, or any site that has time-based content, then these permalink structures will come in handy.

day and name month and name permalink presets

Usually, every website has a date recorded somewhere on the page when the story is posted. But if the stories are updated, the date changes. So if you’re using the Day and Name or Month and Name preset, your day or month will always be recorded on the permalink. Online publications, journals, news, etc. use this permalink format.

With this format, your date will never change as it is now a part of the permalink. This however has its downsides. People want to read the latest news or posts, if your permalink doesn’t change, this will make people think that your post is outdated. Even if the date on your post shows that it was updated recently, on the permalink, it shows the post was posted 5 years ago. If this happens you might lose visitors.

So when should you use the Day and Name or Month and Name format? If you run a news site or any site where the time and date are important, then this format is perfect. Although it will show that the content is outdated, sites that use this format usually don’t update old posts. Rather they post a new article on that topic.

Numeric

The Numeric permalink format shows the post id to setup the permalink. As you might have guessed, this doesn’t have many practical uses. Like the Plain format, the Numeric permalink is almost never used at all.

numeric permalink preset

Since the numeric format uses post id as a permalink, it also doesn’t have much SEO value. You cannot insert keywords on your permalink and this reduces your site’s visibility. If you’ve looked at the custom structure, the numeric uses the %post_id% variable. Also notice the /archive/, which doesn’t help your site either. 

If you want a structure like this, then customize the name with something much more user-friendly such as /blog/. Then couple it with a variable that is better for SEO.

Now when should you use the Numeric preset? Since it’s similar to the plain format, we recommend not using it as it doesn’t benefit your SEO.

Post name

If you’ve read this article from the beginning then you already know the usefulness of this format. “Post name” is the most widely used permalink format out of all the 5. Most of the blogs use this preset and we recommend using this format as well. Of course, the post name format isn’t suitable for all websites, but for most of the sites this works like a charm.

post name permalink preset

With this format, if you add a new post, WordPress adds the title as the slug. WordPress detects the title and automatically uses that title to setup your permalink word for word (up to a limited number of characters). You can edit your post name permalink as well. Since you’ll be using the post name as the permalink, your URL will not contain any unnecessary information such as the date, month, post id, etc. It’s much more simple and good for SEO.

Now when should you use the post name permalink structure? This works for most of the websites actually. If your site has a lot of custom taxonomies or complicated category structures, then you might want to use another format. Otherwise, this is the best option for your permalinks.

It’s much simpler and more straightforward with this setting. You can use this setting to create your home page, landing page, or main article. Then you can update these content regularly or whenever it’s needed. Then it will appear on your feed as an updated/new post. This will help you get better SEO and a higher number of visitors.

Custom Structures

If none of the presets works for your site, WordPress gives you the freedom to set up your own custom structure for your permalinks. The Custom Structure option gives you full control over how you want your site links to appear. Using this format, you can set up any of the above-mentioned presets as well as create a new type of preset with the given variables. It also allows you to use static strings as well (look at the example below).

custom structure permalink

In the image above, we used the /blog/ part on the permalink and it will be placed in the slug regardless of the installation directory. Then next variables, %category% and %postname% will change depending on the category and post title of a post. The post name will be set as the URL slug that you set in the post editor.

Note: You must use at least one variable if you’re using the custom structure. If you only include the string, WordPress would have no idea what the individual identifier for the content would be. You will face an error saying “A structure tag is required when using custom permalinks”. 

So when should you use the Custom Structures? If you want to add custom taxonomies or include keywords in the URL, you can use the custom structures. Although permalinks like these will be longer, but it will help the search engines better understand the structure of your website.

How to edit Permalinks

After selecting a suitable permalink structure for your website, the only thing that you need to do now is to configure your slug. In case you missed it, slugs are the final part of the URL that identifies each content either through key words or post ID. If you’re using Gutenberg page builder, then on the right side is the settings panel. Click on the ‘URL’ under the Post tab to bring up the permalink editor.

editing permalink

If you want to edit your permalink simply change it in the permalink field (shown in the picture above). WordPress can use the title of your post as the slug. If your post title is too long, and you want a shorter slug for your post, you can edit it from here.

If you’re using the classic editor of WordPress, then the permalink should show up under the title of the post. There’s an edit button right after the permalink, click on it to edit it.

Conclusion

For many WordPress beginners, the permalink structure might be a little difficult to understand. It’s not that complicated. Structure your permalinks right after you’ve set up your WordPress website. Then you don’t need to bother with it anymore. As you can see, it’s really simple. Knowing how to configure WordPress permalink settings allows you to better structure your website. 

Update your WordPress permalink settings to make your website much more user-friendly. It will even help you with your SEO as the search engines can better understand how your website is structured. This means more visitors to your site which means your site will become more successful.

Now that you know how to change your WordPress permalink settings, what do you think about it? Which of the permalink formats you’ve selected for your website? Let us know what you think in the comments.


Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links and we may receive a small commission if you purchase something by following them. However, we recommend services/products that we believe good to serve your purpose.

Staff Author
Staff Author

A team of WordPress enthusiasts led by Arafat Bin Sultan, a seasoned professional with over a decade of experience in tech blogging, content marketing, and video creation.

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