How to Create Permalinks and Slugs in WordPress
When starting your blog there are 2 important things you need to always have in mind – the first one is naturally your content and the second one its visibility on the Internet. In modern times SEO is an acronym most of us are more than familiar with, and all of our marketing strategies are aimed at making our content as SEO friendly as possible. There are thousands of blogs that deal with some of the most popular topics, however, they are not visible enough on the search engines which is why most of us are completely oblivious of them. If you are trying to avoid this, there are many different ways for you to make your content stand out in browser searches and most of them include choosing and displaying keywords or even phrases in a proper manner.
But how do you make a single post visible? One of the most important steps you need to take if you want your content to be highly ranked on search engines is to create permalinks and slugs that will be SEO and user friendly. Now, you must be wondering what are these permalinks and slugs (no, we’re not talking about the slimy animal, you got that one right) which is why we have prepared a detailed explanation of what these terms represent and why they are so important in making your site popular. If, on the other hand, you have informed yourself on these topics and need just a couple of new information, you can use our table of contents and simply skip to the part of your interest. Get yourself comfy, and let’s see what we have prepared for you:
When we speak about permalinks, the name itself poses the definition – permalink is basically a valid URL of your content i.e. a permanent link through which your website visitors can reach a certain post or a page, or, in yet other words, it is a digital address of your content. For example, the permalink of this article you’re reading at the moment would be https://wpklik.com/wordpress-tutorials/permalinks-and-slugs-in-wordpress/.
Permalinks are made with an intention to remain unchanged as long as it is possible. They play a very important role in generating traffic to your site. For example, bloggers who want to link to your content will point to your permalinks. Whenever you share content on social media you will do it by sharing permalinks. Practically, a lot of content you want to share in whatever way you share it, be it an email or a social media post, will be shared by using a permalink. Last, but not least, even Google uses permalinks when it wants to index a piece of your content. So, although it may seem there’s not much to understand about permalinks, you should never forget how important they actually are.
Slugs represent a part of a permalink, however, not just any part of it, but rather the most important one for the SEO, the one you will find at the very end of a permalink. If https://wpklik.com/wordpress-tutorials/permalinks-and-slugs-in-wordpress/ represents the entire permalink, a slug in this particular URL would simply be permalinks-and-slugs-in-wordpress, it is as simple as that. Mind you, it is usually the slug that identifies your page’s or post’s content which is why we’ll be explaining more in detail the importance of this URL chunk in the lines to follow. And don’t forget to pay attention to slug when you create anchor links. Carefully choose your anchor ID attributes because they become part of your slugs.
We’ve already talked about the importance of your contents’ visibility and we won’t try to state the obvious once again. There are several reasons why it is really important to have good slugs and permalinks, the ones that will help you gain more followers rather than turn them away from your content.
First of all, if someone wants to promote your content, or simply link it to their own it is the permalink that they’ll use in order to do that. The same goes for social media – every time you wish to connect some of your blog posts and promote it on your social media channels there is no way to do it other than to post this permalink on a story or a single post. Now that we’ve seen how present these permalinks are in promoting our content it is only normal to explain why are some of the permalinks efficient in helping you be more visible, while some others are actually working against you.
The truth is, once you create a post or a page, there must be a valid address to it whether you like it or not. However, once you install WordPress you will find yourself with default settings that are not always what you need. And that is precisely the case with these permalinks – they come in certain versions that are not optimized at all. The default permalink structure, therefore, is something similar to http://www.mysite.com/?p=123. As you can see, you can hardly say what this post is about since the only thing you see in the slug section is a bunch of numbers and symbols. This happened because the default permalink structure usually gets created based on your post’s ID. If left like this, there is no way a person or any search engine would recognize the topic behind this post ‘cause the slug does not contain any of the keywords or any information related to your content at all.
So, naturally, when someone types in the keywords for what they are looking for, the engines won’t recognize your post as something relevant and therefore it won’t be shown on the search page. Making mistakes of this sort, even though they are common mistakes, can cause your potential followers to just skip your post ‘cause a permalink of a kind would make them feel suspicious about it, or they might even think it has nothing to do with what they’re looking for. Now this is precisely the moment where a good slug can be game-changing.
If you wish to create a slug that will be a magnet for new followers, firstly you will need to change the permalink structure in general, and only after that create a slug that will match your needs. Luckily for everyone, changing the permalink structure takes only a couple of seconds after which you will need only as much to create a winner slug that will change your content’s ranking. As much as this may lead you to believe that it takes an extremely tech-savvy person to create SEO optimized permalinks and slugs, we assure you that is not the case, there are lots of simple things you can do to improve your SEO. Creating a winner slug and permalink is something you can certainly do all by yourself, and we will show you how to do it, in a few simple steps.
However easy it is to create a slug, there are a few important things to bear in mind if you want to make the best of it:
- The first and most obvious step to take is to include your keyphrase in the slug so that it perfectly describes what your page is about in just a few words.
- When you have this covered, check if the slug has some function words like a, the or an, and see if you can do without them. In most cases, you can.
- Then, check if there are more unnecessary words that you can do without, but don’t forget that you can use a slug only once. So, if it refers to the main article about a certain topic, you may want to stick to as few words as possible like “optimize-slug” for example. But, if you’re planning to write more articles on the same or similar topic, you might want to include a bit more specific words, as you can’t use the same slug twice.
- Another thing to avoid in a slug is date, simply because it might make an article seem obsolete. You can always update the article and change its headline, but if the slug states it’s an article from 2014, for example, chances are hardly anyone will consider it relevant.
- Don’t forget the technicalities like replacing spaces with dashes, and leaving all small letters. Slugs in small letters are convenient in case you want to create duplicate content by mixing lowercase with uppercase letters.
So starting with permalinks, we must say that this change is to be done as soon as you install WordPress. This is extremely important because once you set your permalink, and change it later, whoever clicks on the old version of permalink might find themselves facing the error page. In order to avoid this problem, we suggest you think twice before deciding on the type of permalink you want. Anyhow, how do you actually change the permalink structure? Follow the next steps and you’ll be done with it in a blink of an eye.
First things first, go to the menu on your left and find Settings bar. Once you click on it, you should proceed to Permalinks.
Once you entered permalink settings, you will be offered a variety of permalink structure options such as plain, day and name, month and name etc. In order to get a permalink that will contain words that are related to your content we suggest you either tick the Post name box or Custom structure that will be suitable for a variety of uses.
Post name type might be a slightly better option since it will give you a permalink that will be cleared from the unneeded clutter, meaning that there will be no arbitrary words, dates, or ID numbers. Instead, your permalink will contain words that are related to your post’s title.
Once you’ve done all of that, you should just go to Save Changes and voilà – you have changed your permalink’s structure successfully.
Custom Permalink Structure in WordPress
Custom permalinks structure allows us to create a tailor-made permalink that contains specific info of your choice. It is entirely up to you and your needs what will be shown in this type of permalink. The elements you can combine are year, month, day, hour, minute, second, post ID, post name, category and author. Some of these are more convenient than others, and we’ll explain why.
For example, when it comes to dates, we already mentioned they are not really a perfect choice to include in your permalink as they can make your content seem old. There are not many advantages to using dates in your URL. However relevant the post is, if the date makes it look old it will never get the attention it would without the date. So, if you don’t have a particular, strong reason to put a date in your permalink, it is smarter to avoid it, there are many other ways to organize your posts chronologically.
Post IDs are the kind of element that doesn’t give any particularly useful info to the potential reader, and can even seem confusing, so it’s best to avoid them. Not to mention they can have a negative impact on your Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
If your post is written by a famous author, including his name in the URL is a big Yes. Even though it is not a common thing to do, it will attract readers and influence your SEO positively. Now, if the author’s name is not that famous, including his name is still not a thing to avoid but it is questionable how effective it would be. As for the post name and category, those are useful information both for the user and your SEO, because they indicate what kind of content is behind the link. You should only take care not to include too long post and category names, as lengthy slugs will not be appreciated by Google, nor will enhance sharing the URL.
Keep your permalinks as short as possible. They should be easy both to remember and share. Therefore, avoid descriptive category names and long tags as parts of permalinks, they won’t do you any good. It’s much easier to remember 3-4 keywords that make sense next to each other, than a whole bunch of data that you don’t even understand at first glance.
When you know what to include in your permalink, it is very easy to create it. Simply choose the Custom Structure option and use the structure tags that show in the field below.
By clicking on a certain tag, it becomes part of the custom permalink. If you change your mind and whish to remove a certain tag, you just click on it again, and it will be deleted from the permalink.
Now this is the part where it gets a bit tricky, but don’t worry, it’s nothing you won’t be able to handle on your own. As we said earlier in the article, a slug is the ending part of a permalink, a part that identifies that particular page’s topic. Before the permalink structure was set to post name type, this part usually contained numbers and symbol that affected your page’s SEO badly given the fact that it didn’t provide Internet users with any kind of information. Therefore, in order to have a permalink that actually transmits what the page is about, we switched it to post name structure. However, after doing so, you are left with a permalink that will automatically select words of your post’s title and that is not something you necessarily want your slug to have. As you probably know, search engines recognize keywords and based on them they display the results of all the articles they found that contain these particular words. This is why it is of the utmost importance to place the keywords of your content in the very slug of the page the content is located on. Not only will it increase your post’s ranking on the search engines, but it will send a clear message to whomever finds its permalink what the page is all about. Anyhow, now that you know what needs to be put in the slug in order to have an SEO friendly one, you must be wondering how you can change it and type in these keywords you selected. Once again, follow the steps down below and you will be able to make these changes with the slightest of efforts.
In the menu on your left, go to the section Posts. There, under the Title box of your post you will find the permalink’s URL.
The next step would require you to click on the Edit button next to the URL and after doing so, you will be able to type in the desired post name.
Finally, press OK then the Update button to update your post and you will have a post’s permalink that will have an SEO friendly slug.
Creating a page slug pretty much requires the same steps as creating a post slug. Naturally, there are some miniature differences which is why we will walk you through it step by step once again, just to point out these differences and help you avoid unnecessary mistakes.
In the menu on the left, instead of going to Posts, this time you will go to Pages section. Once again, below the Title box you will see a permalink URL .
Just like when creating a post slug, click on the Edit button and type in the slug for your page.
Lastly, click on the OK button and finish it off by updating your page.
So if you were looking for ways to improve your content’s SEO and find out how to create efficient slugs and permalinks, we hope this little tutorial of ours has helped you out.