When it comes to SEO (search engine optimization), having the best WordPress permalink structure is a consideration that needs to be made by everyone.
Permalinks is something you want to setup correctly from the beginning to save the headaches of changing it once you’ve got an established site going. I’ve done it before, changed my permalink structure years after having my site, and I can tell you that it’s not a fun task changing.
So, the question is – what’s the best WordPress permalink structure? The answer is post name and I’ll explain why.
What Are Permalinks?
Permalink is a fancy way of saying the URL of something in WordPress. Permalinks define the structure of URLs used by WordPress. What the URL of a post looks like is dictated by permalinks.
The URL of every page and every post is determined by the WordPress permalink structure. In fact, anything you visit on your site is determined by this.
Where to Change the WordPress Permalinks
If you navigate to Settings->Permalinks then you will be presented with a few options where you can change your permalinks.
- Plain – Do not use this at all. It has no value to SEO and will in fact make it nearly impossible for you to rank for anything.
- Day and name – This will insert the full date before the name of the post. I would only consider this if I were creating a news oriented blog.
- Month and name – Similar to the previous option. This inserts the month before the name of the post.
- Numeric – A terrible option that uses a number in place of your post name. Not good for SEO.
- Post name – The name of the post will be used as the permalink; simple and the best option.
- Custom Structure – There’s quite a bit you can do with this, though I wouldn’t recommend using it unless you really know what you’re doing.
Now, below those is an Optional area with a category base and a tag base.
What this area allows you to do is to put text to precede the category or tag.
See, normally a category looks like: https://blogplayground.com/category/blogging/
And a tag would be: https://blogplayground.com/tag/guides-tips-suggestions/
By using a different category base, or tag base, you will change the words in that from “category” or “tag” to whatever you enter.
So, if I entered “topic” as the category base then it would show up like: https://blogplayground.com/topic/blogging/
I could have tags appear like: https://blogplayground.com/terms/guides-tips-suggestions/
By entering “terms” into the Tag base.
There really isn’t a need to change the category or topic base. They are setup in a way that everyone understands, including search engines.
Altering it shouldn’t harm your site’s SEO, but it’s not likely to help it either.
Honestly, the only reason to change these is cosmetic. Maybe some other term is more appropriate for what you’re doing with your site. Go for it if you feel compelled to change it, but it’s not a big priority.
What is the Best WordPress Permalink Structure?
The answer is post name.
Month and name is the default for WordPress permalinks. For years I used this setup, never questioning it.
One day I started learning about SEO and realized that having a date in the URL was not helping me with SEO. Having a date in the URL was literally dating my articles.
So, if I shared the URL to an article from 5 years ago then everyone would see that plainly. The problem with that is people want new and fresh content for everything, even when an older article answers their question.
If you have the date, in any form, in the permalink for an article then people will pass on reading that article if they feel it may not be relevant because of that date.
For example, let’s say I have an article on SEO that I wrote 7 years ago. Now, I update that article every year, so it’s always got accurate and current information, but I use a date based permalink: https://blogplayground.com/2011/06/seo-tips/
If someone wants SEO information then they want something that’s current, and while my article may have current information, the permalink (URL) makes it appear outdated. As a result, people will ignore it.
This is also why you’ll often see people change their article titles to include the current year, or to note the year they updated the article. Ideally you won’t have to do that, but it’s a little trick that can help.
Use Short URLs
A factor in SEO is the length of the URL. Shorter URLs that are concise tend to do better with search engines.
So, by having the post name permalink structure, the URLs of your articles is short and to the point, exactly as they should be for SEO friendliness, like this article you’re reading: https://blogplayground.com/permalink-structure/
Having other elements in the URL, such as a date, detract from the SEO value you’re trying to achieve. If the other components of the permalink serve no value for SEO then remove them, which is why post name is the best option.
What About the Other Permalink Options?
As I said above, having a date in the URL isn’t ideal. It could work if you’re doing a news site, as in reporting on a lot of things throughout the course of the day, but other than that I don’t see a need for dates.
The custom option can work if you have a distinct niche where having other components in the permalink makes sense, but that would be a pretty rare case.
The only other options are plain, which you should never use for many reasons, and numeric. Numeric has zero value to you for SEO and thus should also not be used.
When it’s all said and done, post name is the best WordPress permalink structure you should be using. Don’t over think it and harm your SEO by trying the other options. Trust me, they aren’t worth it.
Also, if you’re new to WordPress then check out my tips and tricks article for beginners.