How do I change permalinks in WordPress

What are WordPress Permalinks? How can you change this?

When dealing with WordPress, sooner or later you come across the term permalink. But what is a permalink anyway? And where are permalinks configured in WordPress? In this article you will learn the background to permalinks and how you can set and change them in WordPress.

Table of Contents

What are permalinks?

The designation Permalink is a combination of the two words permanent and Hyperlink. A permalink is therefore a URL that remains permanently after creation and is no longer changed. This URL can point to any resource, such as a specific subpage of your domain or a file.

The use of permalinks is ultimately that Basis of the internet, because this is the only way to set a hyperlink from a website to a specific subpage of another domain. If this website simply changes the permalink without further action, the call to the URL will lead to nothing or an error page.

Permalinks from a search engine point of view

If you want your website to get visitors from search engines, you shouldn't just change existing permalinks either. The crawlers of the search engines search namely every single url your website and save certain information such as search terms and other ranking signals for each URL.

If the URL of a subpage or the entire URL structure of your website is suddenly changed, this information will be lost and must be recreated. This can sometimes take weeks to several months. All links from other websites to the old URL of your posts are also lost with the change.

Change permalinks

However, there are times when you certain permalinks want to change. Perhaps the content of a post has changed and the previous permalink is therefore no longer appropriate. Or when the website is relaunched, the complete url structure be changed.

Fortunately, it's not impossible to change existing permalinks without major downsides. In most cases, it is safe to change as long as the old URL is not deleted but redirected to the new URL. For that one has to 301 redirect to be set up. With a 301 redirect, the search engines are informed that the URL has changed and that the old resource can be reached under the new URL in the future.

Permalinks in WordPress

Like most content management systems, WordPress stores all posts and pages under one ID in the database. WordPress then also saves the permalink in an internal table. If a certain subpage of your WordPress website is called up, the system searches for the permalink in its database and then knows which post has to be called up with which ID.

Permalink settings

In the settings of your WordPress site, some basic settings for the permalinks must first be made. To do this, go to the menu item in the backend Settings> Permalinks.

By default, this is the point Easy selected so that your URLs would only contain your domain and post ID. However, this is not advisable, because the URL should already be able to tell which topic the linked page deals with.

How should a permalink be structured?

So you should choose a setting that already reflects the post topic in the URL. Many blogs also show that a setting has been selected that includes the publication date of the post in the URL. This is also disadvantageous in most cases, because after a long time the URL alone would signal an outdated post, although it may have been updated several times.

These days they are mostly short speaking urls is used, in which the slug of the contribution follows directly after the domain. To do this, select the item in the settings Post name out. For large websites with many hundreds or thousands of subpages, the category is often also included in the permalink. The disadvantage here would be that if you re-sort a post into a different category, the permalink would change.

Set permalink slug

With the Slug is the name of the post in the permalink. When you create a new post, WordPress first automatically creates a permalink from the post title. For example, if you write a post on your garden blog with the title "What do I have to consider when repotting a hydroponics?“This is how WordPress sets the permalink for this www.deine-domain.de/was-muss-ich-beim-umtopfen-einer-hydrokultur-beachten/ at.

Sometimes you come across much longer URLs, but here too it makes sense to delete all unimportant words from the slug. A short speaking URL could look something like this:www.deine-domain.de/hydrokultur-umtopfen-anleitung/ or even just www.deine-domain.de/hydrokultur-umtopfen/.

For example, if someone shares this link via social media or forwards your instructions to someone via email, the recipients can immediately see at a glance which topic is likely to be covered by the page. Such short URLs with the most important search terms are also very useful from a search engine point of view.

Change permalinks

The basic URL structure of WordPress is set in the permalink settings. To change the permalink of an individual post, go to the To edit Mode of the corresponding contribution. The permalink is under the title. Click on the right To edit Button to adjust the permalink.

The contribution must then be saved in order to apply the change. If it is an existing post that has been online for some time, you should have one 301 redirect set up from the old to the new URL. One possibility for this is the .htaccess File in the main WordPress directory. How to set up a forwarding via the .htaccess file:

If the old URL is then called up, the browser is automatically redirected to the new URL. The search engines also understand this forwarding and show the new URL in their search results after a transition period.

Conclusion

The WordPress permalinks are the basis for the URL structure of your website. The settings for this should therefore be chosen carefully, especially for a new website. In the event of a later change, it is essential to set up appropriate forwarding.