Tips for Creating Custom Permalinks in WordPress
In a digital world where good search engine optimization plays a crucial role in your website’s visibility, setting up a solid permalink structure is essential. And when we say permalink structure, we mean all the permalinks that can be found on your website, such as pages, posts, and even categories and tags.
Luckily, if you’re a WordPress user, this popular CMS platform comes with different solutions right out the box that allow you to make a permalink structure that is search engine and user-friendly. And in case you want more detailed customization, there are different plugins at your disposal capable of elevating your permalink strategy to a whole new level.
Before we begin sharing our tips and exploring different ways in which you can create and set up WordPress custom permalinks, let’s take a brief look at what a permalink is and why it’s so important for your website in the first place.
What is a Permalink and Why It Is Important
Derived from the words “permanent” and “link”, permalinks represent the URLs of the content on your WordPress site, including your pages, posts, categories, tags, and so on. People copy and paste these permalinks in order to access a certain page or post on your site, while search engines use them to link to your website. As for the custom permalink, it is a URL structure used for a particular WordPress page set in a way that doesn’t affect the settings of other permalinks or your WordPress URL structure as a whole.
Permalinks are important because, in a way, they represent your content and can let people know what they can expect if they click on a certain page or post, which can encourage more people to check them out. Likewise, permalinks indicate to search engines what the page or post is going to be about, which can have a positive impact on your page ranks and, by extension, the visibility of your content. That’s why it’s highly recommended that you assign appropriate permalink names to different types of content on your WordPress website.
Additionally, setting up a solid permalink structure can also help you prevent having any duplicate permalinks on your website. For example, if you have two posts with the same title, you can easily differentiate them by adding different date and time stamps to each permalink.
Now that you have a general idea of why taking care of your permalinks is important, let’s see what WordPress has in store when it comes to customizing permalinks in a way that will be most beneficial to your website.
Apart from allowing you to set the main permalink structure, WordPress also lets you customize URLs of your individual posts, pages, categories, tags, and other types of content. There are even different plugins you can use for creating completely custom permalinks when it comes to specific website areas.
Without further ado, here’s a detailed guide on how to create custom permalinks in WordPress:
By default, WordPress uses the plain format to display your permalinks. This means that if you don’t take care of the permalink structure of your WordPress site right away, your permalinks will look something like this:
That doesn’t look really informative or search-engine friendly, does it?
Fortunately, as we already mentioned, WordPress lets you set the permalink structure in a way that is more readable and SEO-friendly in general.
All you have to do is go to Settings >> Permalinks in your admin dashboard.
Once there, among the Common Settings, you can change the way your permalinks will look. As you can see, we chose the option that allows your posts to be displayed by a post name, which allows for a more detailed and descriptive structure in general:
Don’t forget to save your settings when you’re done for the changes to take effect.
If you have a new website or blog, we advise you to apply the permalink structure that includes a post name in the URL. Also, it’s best to do this sooner than later, as changing permalinks can and does affect your SEO rankings.
The default setting used in WordPress for categories is /category/, while /tag/ is used for all the tag pages. An example would look something like this:
If you want, you can easily change this default setting by heading to Settings >> Permalinks. In the Optional section, you have the option to insert custom names that will override the default WordPress settings. You can use any name that you see fit. For example, you can name your category base as “topics”, or your tag base as “hashtags”:
If you choose these names, your category and tag URLs will look something like this:
As soon as you set the general permalink structure, WordPress will use it for all the links on your website. However, you can easily override these settings on individual pages or posts, if you want. This can be done by changing the URL slug inside the URL of a page, post, or custom post type (like WooCommerce products, for example). The slug is generated automatically, according to the page or post name itself.
To do this, simply head to the page/post you wish to change and customize your URL slug within the page/post editor itself. You will find the option to change it on the right side of your editor screen, in the Permalink dropdown.
Don’t forget to Update your page or post once you’re done in order to change the new settings.
Aside from customizing your default category and tag prefixes (which we showed you in one of the steps above), you can change the slug of individual categories and tags as well.
Go to Posts >> Categories, find the category you wish to change the URL name of, and hit the Edit button.
An editing screen will appear, showing you some additional category settings. You will be able to change the slug of your category here.
Similarly, you can also edit the slug of a tag. You can do this by accessing Posts >> Tags and then clicking the Edit button of the tag whose URL you wish to change.
When it comes to WordPress author pages, there’s the /author/ base prefix that is automatically added to them. Like this:
If you want to change this base prefix or the author slug itself, you’ll need the help of a plugin called Edit Author Slug.
After you install the plugin and activate it, access the Users >> All Users page and click the Edit button located under the username whose permalink structure you wish to change.
Once the Edit User admin screen opens, scroll down until you find the Edit Author Slug section. Here, you will be able to choose from different slug combinations, or you can simply add a custom one. Just make sure to hit the Update User button for the changes to take effect.
For changing the default author permalink prefix, go to Settings >> Edit Author Slug. Once there, you will be able to see the option to change the author base at the very top. Also, you will be able to set the author base according to the author’s role.
If you want to override the default settings of your permalink structure and change custom permalinks for only specific areas of your site, there is a plugin that can help you out with this.
First things first, you should install and activate the plugin called Custom Permalinks. This plugin gives you complete control over your website’s permalink structure and lets you assign custom permalinks for individual posts, pages, tags, and categories.
First, you need to access the editing screen of your page or post. You will be able to see the option to create your custom permalink right below the editor.
If you want, you can create custom permalinks for your tags and categories as well.
For categories, head to the Posts >> Categories page and click the Edit button under the category whose permalink structure you wish to change. The same rules apply for setting up the permalink structure for your tags – you just need to head to Posts >> Tags instead.
Scroll down a bit once you’re in the Edit Category page, and you will notice the option called Custom Permalink. Aside from letting you change the slug, this option also allows you to leave out the category base prefix entirely when creating the URL.
Moreover, by clicking on Custom Permalinks in your admin dashboard, you get to disable all custom permalinks using bulk actions. Just hit the Apply button once you select all the custom permalinks you wish to delete, and your default permalink structure will be activated instead.
Taking care of your redirects is important because it will prevent your users from running into 404 errors. When it comes to post and page URLs, WordPress applies changes and sets up your redirects automatically. But, if you want to set the redirects of your fully customized or author permalinks, you need to use the help of a plugin.
We recommend using the Redirection plugin for this task.
After you’re done with installing and activating the Redirection plugin, go to Tools >> Redirection in your WordPress dashboard.
Setting up your redirects is quite easy. All you have to do is insert the old URL in the “Source URL” box, and add the new one in the box called “Target URL”.
Finally, hit the Add redirect button to store your changes and you’re all set.
An easily readable permalink structure can be a great boost for your website’s SEO since it can help define the way users and search engines see the URLs of your content. As you can see from all the instructions we presented above, setting up a solid permalink structure in WordPress is quite easy. Aside from the standard permalink system that comes with WordPress by default, there are also different types of plugins you can install and use for more in-depth customization of all your permalinks. This includes permalinks for your posts, pages, categories, tags, and even user roles.
And just a final note before we go – the sooner you take care of your website’s permalink structure, the better. After all, changing your permalinks when you already have tons of posts and pages can be a bit challenging. That’s why we advise you to use one permalink structure from the very beginning and stick to it. But, in case you still end up changing your mind at some point, you have the option to set up 301 redirects in WordPress to prevent your website from losing traffic.