Ask a Blogger: Changing Permalinks

We are always looking for ways to improve our blogs.  Experimenting with design, testing out new content, and looking for ways to get more visitors.  And lets face it, we need people to find our sites.  This week, we’re talking about Permalinks. 

What is a permalink?
A permalink is the unique and permanent URL to your individual blog posts.  The URL to each post should be permanent, and never change — hence the term permalink.

So why are permalinks important?
The permalinks on your blog are the links that will be used by other bloggers (or yourself) to establish a link to a post. Permalinks can ensure that the link for each blog post doesn’t change even when the post gets archived. If you don’t have a permalink, it will be difficult to access older entries.

Types of Permalinks:

  • The default permalink is: http://example.com/?p=N  where “N” represents your post ID number.  This type of permalink is called an “ugly” permalink because it doesn’t look as nice and more importantly, you’re also not being told anything about the post from the permalink.
  • An example of a “pretty” permalink is: http://example.com/year/post-name/.  This can be done using mod_rewrite.  These “pretty” permalinks provide more detailed information about the post and it actually looks more appealing than the default permalink.

WordPress users can go into settings -> permalinks and use one of the preselected common settings or create a custom structure.  An advisable custom structure would be in the format /%postname%/.  Why? You want your post name to be part of your permalink to help the search engine crawl your posts and thus drive more search engine traffic to your website.  Remember to use keywords in your post name or title to help google draw attention to your posts.

**If you are changing your permalinks structure you must be cautious!   If you already have live posts, you can create a 404 error code on past posts.  To fix this, use the Permalink-Finder plug-in.  It detects when WordPress cannot find a permalink, and before it generates the 404 error it tries to locate any posts with similar words.  Then, rather than issuing a 404 error, it sends back a redirect to the correct page.

Remember that SEO is imperative to your website.  You need search engines to find your site and direct readers to relevant posts.

If you are using wordpress, you can find out more information on changing your permalink structure here.

You can search all of our articles by typing in Ask A Blogger.

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