This article is part of a larger series on Small Business Websites.
By definition, permalinks, or “permanent links,” are web page URLs that are intended to remain unchanged over time on a site. They consist of two parts: the domain (www.businessname.com) and the slug (e.g., /store/). Permalinks matter in the organizational structure of your website, and can help your site get found online through search engine optimization (SEO). Learn how to create them, what mistakes to avoid, and how to change them the right way.
Pro tip: If you don’t have a website yet, we recommend that you host it through Bluehost, where you can get hosting plans and a free domain name for as low as $2.95 per month.
How to Create SEO-friendly Permalinks
Permalinks should be as short and as descriptive as possible. Both search engines like Google and visitors to your website should be able to tell the general content of a web page by looking at the permalink.
To that, permalinks should contain two to four keywords relevant to the page. For example, the permalink to our article titled “How to Create a Business Website: The Quick Guide” is https://fitsmallbusiness.com/small-business-website/.
The maximum character length limit of a URL in the address bar is 2,048 characters. However, it’s best to keep your URLs between 75 and 80 characters as this is the maximum number of characters Google displays in search results. Even shorter URLs (and thus, slugs) are best, provided that they’re still adequately descriptive.
Follow these best practices to create SEO-friendly permalinks:
- Avoid dating your content: To keep your posts looking as unchanging and undated as possible, refrain from using dates in your URLs. The exception to this is time-specific blog posts or news articles, which can benefit from including dates. If the date is relevant, include it—otherwise, leave it out.
- Use hyphens, not underscores: Google’s preferred URL structure is to separate the words in your permalinks with hyphens, not underscores. For example, see how the words are separated by hyphens in the slug “/small-business-website/.”
- Include categories: In larger websites, it can be very useful to organize content using categories. These categories make it easier for users to navigate a website, improving SEO. Some useful categories include /store/, /menu/, /recipes/, and /blog/―but keep in mind that these names increase the length of your URL.
- Include keywords: To craft the most SEO-friendly permalinks, include keywords that describe the content of your page and have search value in terms of volume (the number of people who search for them each month). Keywords help both humans and search engines know what your webpage is about, helping it to rank higher.
Common Permalink Mistakes to Avoid
It fails to describe the page
It looks messy, dated, or is difficult to read
It’s way too long
None of these are ideal for permalinks. The first one is difficult to remember and lacks any keywords—the permalink doesn’t show what the page is about. The second includes the publish date, making the URL longer than it needs to be, and giving the impression that the content is dated. Having permalinks with dates in them is also bad practice in case you want to update the article later on (risking inaccuracies and broken links).
Finally, the last one has too many characters, making it difficult for potential visitors to type the URL properly and exceeding the recommended number of characters, which will cause the URL to be truncated, or cut off, when listed in Google search results.
Pro tip: Search engines don’t read generic words (aka stop words) like “is,” “to,” or “in,” so they essentially waste permalink space. Instead, shorten the permalink to the three or four most descriptive keywords. You’ll save space while keeping the SEO benefits.
How to Change a Permalink
Because permalinks are intended to stay the same even when content is updated, changing them can result in broken links within your site’s internal content and from other sites linking to your content. This can result in poor site visitor experience, increase your bounce rate, and negatively impact your site’s SEO. It’s important to know how to change permalinks properly so this doesn’t occur.
Website builders, like Squarespace, Weebly, Wix, and GoDaddy, make it easy for you to change your permalinks, and most automatically redirect site visitors to the updated URL. However, each platform has a unique process for changing permalinks. Follow the steps below, or head over to your site builder’s information page to find out more on how to change URLs.
Here’s how to change a permalink with some of the top website builders:
- Squarespace: Head to page settings (or post settings) and update the URL in the URL slug field. Click “Save” before exiting.
- Weebly: Go to “Pages,” then “SEO Settings” and “Page Permalink” to change the URL for a specific page. You can also change product page URLs by clicking on a given product and changing the slug in the “Product Permalink” field.
- Wix: Click on the Page icon to the left of the Editor and find the page you want to edit. Head to the “…” symbol and then to “SEO Basics.” Under “What’s URL slug (last part of the URL) for this page?” you can input your chosen slug.
- GoDaddy: GoDaddy will automatically create a permalink using your page’s title, and unfortunately, at the moment there’s no way to change the permalink set by GoDaddy except by changing the page’s title. To change your page’s title (and permalink), head to the right-hand side of the Editor and hover over a specific page under “Website.” Click on the gear icon to the right, and then on “Page Settings.” Change your page’s name, and click “Done” to save your changes.
- WordPress: Go to the page whose permalink you want to change. Under the page title, see if you can change the permalink. If the option isn’t available, head to the right-hand column and find “Permalink.” There, you can edit your slug (and thus, the permalink). To ensure links don’t break when you change the permalink, use a plugin like Redirection for 301 redirects and remember to configure a redirect any time you change a permalink.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How do I get a permalink?
The platform you use to build your site may automatically generate a permalink for each post or page you make. WordPress, for example, by default creates a permalink for each new web page that looks like www.businessname.com/?p=221/.
You can change this manually when editing the page or post, or go to “Settings” in the dashboard and change the default so that it automatically creates a slug matching the title of your page or post. Other platforms, like Squarespace and GoDaddy, automatically generate a permalink from your page’s title.
Can permalinks be changed?
Although a permalink’s definition is an unchanging URL, you can change your permalink after a page has been published if it becomes necessary. However, changing your permalinks can cause a whole host of problems, like page errors and broken links. To avoid this, set up 301 redirects using a plugin to automatically reroute site visitors to the correct (and new) URL.
Do permalinks help with SEO?
Yes. Permalinks improve user experience by telling your audience exactly what’s on a given page. This can increase engagement and keep visitors on-page longer. It also organizes your website’s hierarchy, making it easier to navigate. Plus, it helps search engines like Google accurately categorize your website’s pages in order to include it in relevant search results. Find out more about how to rank higher in Google search results.
Permalinks are meant to be permanent web addresses. They’re useful for categorizing content and optimizing for both search engines and site visitors. To craft SEO-friendly permalinks, make sure to include relevant keywords and keep it short―be as descriptive of the page in the least amount of characters possible.
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