As technical as a permalink may sound, it is simply a fancy-sounding word for a web address (or URL). It’s a combination of the two words “permanent” and “link” as it’s intended to be an unchanging web address. Permalinks are comprised of two parts, the domain (www.businessname.com) and the slug (e.g., /contact/). When creating WordPress pages and posts, you will create unique permalinks that represent each individual page and post.
So why do permalinks matter? Permalinks help both readers and search engines, such as Google, better understand what your page or post is about. In return, your page or post is more likely to rank in relevant search results and readers are more likely to click on it when it shows up in search results. That is, assuming it actually appears to be a good match to the type of information they’re looking for.
Permalink Best Practices
Permalinks should be made as short as possible and contain keywords that are relevant to your business website or article. For example, our article above is titled “How to Make a Small Business Website in 5 Simple Steps.” An ideal permalink for this is fitsmallbusiness.com/small-business-website/.
For one, the URL should be shorter than 80 characters, roughly the maximum length Google can display in search results. Secondly, it should contain two to four keywords that are relevant to the article’s topic. This makes it easy to remember and tells potential visitors and search engines what the article is about, improving your chances of ranking in search results.
Examples of Bad Permalinks
Every blog or website platform has a default method for setting permalinks. If you don’t specifically edit the permalink, it will look something like this:
- Fails to describe the page or post: https://fitsmallbusiness.com/?p=234
- Looks Messy and can get long: https://fitsmallbusiness.com/blog/2018/4/18/small-business-website/
- Too many characters: https://fitsmallbusiness.com/how-to-make-a-small-business-website-in-5-steps/
None of these are particularly ideal for professional purposes. The first one, which uses a page number as an identifier, is difficult to remember. It also lacks any keywords, which won’t help it rank in search engines.
The second example includes the publish date in the URL. This can get lengthy and is also bad practice should you ever update your articles at a later date. The URL will either be inaccurate, or you can change it and risk having broken links.
💡 Tip: Search engines don’t read generic words like “is,” “to,” or “in,” so they essentially waste permalink space. Instead, shorten the permalink to the three to four most descriptive keywords. You’ll save space while keeping the SEO benefits.
How to Change a Permalink in WordPress
How you will change a permalink in WordPress will depend on your version of WordPress. No matter which version you have, start by navigating to the page or post whose permalink you want to change. From there, check to see if the permalink is below the page title. If so, click on it and edit it. If not, go to the right-hand column under “Document” and find the “Permalink” section. There, you can edit your slug, which updates your page or post’s permalink.
How to Change a Permalink With a Site Builder
Website builders, such as Squarespace, Weebly, and Wix, make it very easy to change permalinks. However, each platform works a bit differently, so find your site builder below for specific steps on how to change permalinks.
Here’s how to change a permalink with the top website builders:
- Squarespace: Head to page settings (or post settings) and find the URL field (full instructions).
- Weebly: Simply change the page name. There is no option to edit the permalink separately (see more).
- Wix, Go to the page whose permalink you want to change and click the three dots next to a page. Then select “Page SEO” and you will see where you can edit your existing permalink (full instructions).
The Bottom Line: What is a Permalink
Permalinks are web addresses, and they are one of several ways to help keep your site healthy, organized, and optimized for search engines. Now that we’ve answered what a permalink is, be sure to check our article for more information on website basics, to SEO for small businesses for the additional steps, and our online marketing section for more free tips on how to draw traffic to your website.