What is a permalink? (Complete Guide with Examples)

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Written By tsboi team

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A permalink or permanent link is the address (URL) of a web page. It is called a permalink because it is not expected to change over the lifetime of a page.

In this post, you will learn everything you need to know about permalinks.

In particular I will explain:

  • What are the main characteristics of permalinks
  • How to make your permalinks SEO friendly
  • What to do if you need to change a permalink.

Permalink Features

Let’s start with a quick introduction to URLS.

Each and every page published on the web has a unique uniform resource locator, commonly known as a URL.

The URL represents the address of a page and is expected to stay the same for as long as the page is published on the web. Therefore, it is sometimes referred to as a permanent link.

The permalink structure of a website is a term that describes what the permalinks of each and every page will look like.

SEO training

Don’t worry if this is confusing now, read on and you’ll understand in no time what the relationship between permalinks and permalink structure is and how it affects your SEO.

Here is an example of a permalink:

A permalink is made up of two parts:

  • The domain of the website
  • The page slug

What is a permalink?What is a permalink?

The website domain can also include the protocol, i.e. https:// or http:// or www.

The page slug is what comes after the domain slash (/).

The maximum length of a permalink is 2083 characters, but in general, the shorter the better.

How to Create SEO Friendly Permalinks

A permanent link must have all the characteristics of a SEO Friendly URL. The best practices are:

Must start with https – This indicates that the web page is secure, which means that any information transmitted between the web browser and the web server is encrypted.

It must be brief and descriptive. – A permalink should be short without having unnecessary information but at the same time it should describe what a page is about.

For example, check out these two permalinks:

Just by looking at the former, you know what to expect before visiting a page, while the latter contains information that does not help users or search engines.

In many cases, a permalink is displayed on search engine results pages (SERPS) and therefore it is also important that it is meaningful.

Permalinks in Google search resultsPermalinks in Google search results

You need to include SEO keywordsSEO keywords are the search phrases that users type into a search engine search box.

By including those terms in your permalinks, you give search engines a solid clue about the content of a page and this increases your chances of ranking highly for those keywords.

It also gives users a great hint of what to expect when visiting the particular page.

Words in permalink must be separated by hyphens – All words that make up a permalink must be separated by ‘-‘ and not by any other character.

Permalinks are in lowercase – To avoid problems, all letters in a permalink must be in lowercase. This is because some web servers treat uppercase characters differently.

Must not include stop words – These are common words that do not add any value or help to understand the actual content of a page.

For example, words like “a”, “the”, “on”, “and”, “is”, “of”, “you” and other similar words.

Permalinks in WordPress

WordPress is one of the most popular CMS platforms and the first platform to use the term ‘Permalink’.

You can find the ‘Permalink Settings’ under SETTINGS.

Setting up permalinks in WordPressSetting up permalinks in WordPress

WordPress gives you a number of options to configure the URL structure of your posts. The best setting to use is ‘Post Name’.

With ‘Post Name’, your permalinks will not contain any unnecessary information. When you publish a new page, WordPress will take what you type in the page title and separate it with hyphens ‘-‘.

How to change the permalink without losing SEO?

Although the idea of ​​a permalink is to be permanent, there are valid cases where you might want to change it.

For example, during an SEO audit, you may decide to shorten your URLs by removing the date information.

In order not to negatively affect your SEO, you need to ‘tell’ search engines that you are changing the URL so they can update their index.

If you make the change without informing them, they will treat it as a new page. This means that any backlinks pointing to the page will be lost and any user who bookmarked the page will get a 404 error, as the page has changed address.

To avoid these issues and maintain your SEO ranking, you should add a 301 redirect to your .htaccess file to inform search engine crawlers of the change.

Here is a step by step example:

Let’s say your current permalink is:

and you want to change it to:

If you’re on WordPress, you can change a page’s permalink by editing the URL just below the title.

Step 1: Visit the page in EDIT mode, change the URL and click the UPDATE button.

How to change a page's permalinkHow to change a page’s permalink

Step 2: Using an FTP program, locate the .htcaccess file found in the ROOT folder of your website, download it to your local PC, and edit it using Notepad or another text editor.

Step 3: Add the following line and save the file.

301 redirect /this-is-a-long-permalink-that-will-get-shortened

Note that you do not need to include the domain name for the [source] URL, but must include the full permalink for the [target URL].

Step 4: Reupload the file to your web server.

Step 5: Open a new browser window and test and everything works as expected. If you type the OLD URL in the browser, you should be redirected to the new page.

Step 6: Go to Google search console and use the URL Inspection Tool to make sure that search engines can access the new permalink without any problem.

URL Inspection ToolURL Inspection Tool

Step 7: Make sure the new permalink address is included in your XML sitemap.

Key learnings

A permalink is a term that describes the URL of a page. Any page published online must have its own unique permalink.

You can safely change the page’s permalink, but to maintain your SEO ranking you need to add a 301 redirect so that search engines and users can navigate to the new address without receiving a NOT FOUND (404) error message.

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