What is a Permalink?How to Make SEO-Friendly Permalinks (Blog URLs) and Safely Edit a Permalink

Alright, we’re here to answer the question, what is a permalink? and we’ll also be diving into best practices for making SEO-friendly permalinks, how to safely change (or edit) a permalink for a blog post or page on your site without causing problems and more. Let’s dive in.

What is a Permalink? How to Make SEO Friendly Permalinks and Edit a Permalink Safely icon

When you’re new to blogging, a natural question to ask is—what is a permalink?

Allow me to show you an example to illustrate what a permalink is.

My blog homepage is located at:  https://www.ryrob.com/

A permalink example from my blog would be:  https://www.ryrob.com/what-is-permalink/

In short, a permalink is the full link to an individual post or page on your blog. It’s the URL you’ll either type in or land on from a Google search, in order to pull up a particular webpage.

Here’s the full definition of what a permalink is:

What is a permalink?

A permalink, also known as a “permanent link” is a URL (of a specific blog post or page on your site) that should remain unchanged once the page is published. Permalinks should always be SEO-friendly URLs that are both easy for people to remember and for search engines to make sense of.

Here’s an example of what a permalink (individual blog post URL) looks like in the address bar of your web browser when you’re navigating to a particular post or page on a site:

What is a Permalink? Blog URL Example and Screenshot of SEO Friendly Permalink

Now, the next natural question—why is it considered bad practice in blog SEO to ever change a permalink?

Why should permalinks remain unchanged?

After a particular post or page is published, the permalink for that page shouldn’t be changed without very good cause (and in extreme exceptions). Permalinks should remain unchanged because any incoming links the post or page has from other websites, will suddenly be pointing to a missing URL.

If you do need to change a permalink at some point on your blog, it’s absolutely crucial that you set up a proper 301 redirect in order to clearly tell search engines (like Google) that your post, page or article has now moved to the new URL you’ve set up.

You can use a free WordPress plugin like Quick Page/Post Redirect (like I use), to quickly set up a 301 redirect for a post or page you plan to move to a new URL like so:

How to Change Permalink in WordPress

Changing the URL (permalink) of an existing blog post without setting up a 301 redirect will result in what’s called a broken link.

And broken links are very bad for the SEO health of your website—because when someone clicks on a broken link somewhere out on the Internet or in search engine results, they’re essentially landing on a blank page that no longer exists.

When this happens, it will lead to a high bounce rate because those visitors will immediately leave.

Search engines will notice that and decrease your organic rankings accordingly, so that they’re not sending traffic to an empty page on your website. And if you have multiple broken links on your website, search engines will likely devalue or penalize your website as a whole—resulting in an all around bad situation that’s easy to avoid.

Always 301 redirect any post or page you plan on moving to a new URL.

How to make SEO-friendly permalinks

If you’ve started your blog using WordPress, the CMS that powers more than 30% of sites on the Internet, then making SEO-friendly permalinks is extremely easy to do.

WordPress comes with a few default, out-of-the-box options for permalink structures that get automatically assigned to new posts and pages—as you begin drafting them.

Simply navigate to SettingsPermalinks like so:

What is a Permalink and How to Make SEO-Friendly Permalinks in WordPress

After clicking on Permalinks, you’ll be presented with the below page of options.

See the clear warning up top? It says, WARNING: Changing your permalinks settings can seriously impact your search engine visibility. It should almost never be done on a live website.

And as we’ve already discussed, that’s for good reason.

How to Make SEO-Friendly Permalink Structure for Your Blog in WordPress

To create SEO-friendly permalinks for the URLs of your blog posts and pages, you should always use the default permalinks structure of Post name as the starting point for your permalinks.

If you’ve learned how to write a blog post that begins with an SEO-friendly headline (title), then the default permalink that populates in a draft blog post will naturally include the important keyword phrase that’s represented in your headline.

Here are a few examples of how SEO-friendly headlines translate into SEO-friendly permalinks:

After doing your keyword research and uncovering the exact words or phrases your ideal readers are searching for, you can devise smart content topics that do the best possible job of answering those search queries they’re making.

Your article’s title will naturally need to include the core keyword phrase you’re hoping to rank for.

And when you type in the article’s title (as you’re drafting the post), the default permalink structure of “Post name” will automatically generate a permalink suggestion by pulling in the full text of your headline as the blog post URL.

Using the default “Post name” permalink suggestion isn’t good enough

While it’s tempting to settle with the default permalink that gets populated as a suggested blog post URL, it’s rare that you should accept that suggestion without making some edits (as your post is still a draft of course).

If you noticed in my three example blog post titles & corresponding permalink examples from above… the permalinks for those articles don’t include every single word from the title.

For the permalink, I’ve omitted very short and non-essential words like “to” and “a” so that they don’t make it into the URL and make it unnecessarily long.

To create SEO-friendly permalinks, you should usually delete these kinds of words from the URL before publishing your article:

  • Conjunctions (for, and, nor, but, or, yet and so)
  • Prepositions (words like to, of, with, at, from, into, for, on by, and so on…)

In general, the shorter your permalink is—the more memorable it’ll be for readers and the easier it is for search engines to make quick sense of.

It’s important to include your target keyword phrase in the permalink for your post or page, and any other crucial operative words like “how” or “why” that clearly indicate the nature of what your content is talking about.

How to manually change a permalink (on an individual post or page)

If you’re using the Classic editor in WordPress, then you’ll be able to edit your permalink—ideally before hitting publish on your blog post—by clicking the “edit” button next to the permalink preview, located just below the headline of your article, right here:

How to Change a Permalink in WordPress (Classic Editor Screenshot)

If you’re using the Gutenberg editor in WordPress, then you’ll be able to change your permalink for a post or page by clicking on the “Permalink” setting, located in the right-hand sidebar when editing the post or page, right here:

How to Change a Permalink in WordPress (Gutenberg Editor Screenshot)

That’s it! Manually changing a permalink on an individual level for a post or page doesn’t have to be difficult.

Optimizing your off-page SEO is an entirely other story.

That kind of work can be done either manually or more quickly with a tool like Linkio that’s designed to help in monitoring backlinks and optimizing anchor text you get—for maximum benefits of the content and while still remaining neutral. Maintaining a quality backlink profile with a diversified range of anchor texts can be difficult, so using a tool made especially for this purpose can help immensely.

Have a permalink question?

Ask away in the comments section below and I’ll weigh in with my advice 🙂

Hi I'm Ryan Robinson

Full-time blogger, podcaster and side project aficionado. Join me here, on ryrob.com to learn how to start a blog, make money blogging and grow a profitable side business. I also write for publications like Fast Company, Forbes, Entrepreneur, Inc, Business Insider and more. Let’s chat on Twitter about business and side projects.

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25 replies to “What is a Permalink? How to Make SEO-Friendly Permalinks (Blog URLs)”

  1. Wow, I never thought of the importance of permalink structure before now. You’ve taken time to explain the concept to my understanding. I’ll have to set my permalinks better now. Hope it will not have any effects on my Google rankings. Thanks for this information.

  2. I appreciate your content! Though I have a question to clarify… you gave 3 examples of permalinks and 1 was about “How to make money blogging”

    You then suggested…
    “It’s important to include your target keyword phrase in the permalink for your post or page, and any other crucial operative words like “how” or “why” that clearly indicate the nature of what your content is talking about.”

    In this case why wouldn’t you have added into your permalink the “how to make money blogging.”

    What is a key indicator that tells us when to and when not to include the “How”?

    • Hello Ryan,

      I was interested in learning how a permalink connects and how it gives search engines easy work.

      Outline why i should not use such phrases.

      – who
      – how-to
      – from
      – with

      • Hey there! A word like “how” is actually a great word to include in your permalinks (if your page is explaining how to do something), because it gives a clear meaning signal to search engines like Google to help them determine what your article is about. The same goes for “who” as it indicated the nature of your content on the page.

        For less value-driven words like “from” and “with” that don’t add much meaning to your permalinks, I’ve found it’s often best to leave them out and stick with a simple permalink.

  3. Great article. I have a product that is the same as a product on another site. When searching for the name, the other site comes up first. I want to change my permalink structure to have the product as the permalink as well as the title. Should I make a new product and new permalink or change the current structure?

    • Hey Nicole! I’d recommend changing your existing permalink (to be the better, more keyword rich URL), but make sure you also set up a 301 redirect so that any links your page has, get passed on to the new permalink destination of your page… this’ll also make it much easier for search engines to follow your content to its new destination. More on setting up 301 redirects here: https://www.ryrob.com/what-is-301-redirect/

  4. I’m so glad i read this article right AFTER changing some permalinks on my already published posts. Needless to say, I immediately changed them back to their original form. Hopefully it won’t negatively affect my website. Thanks for the info!

    • Haha well I’m glad you found it regardless! You should be fine, if you corrected it within 24hrs or so, then it’s highly doubtful there’d be any lasting negative impact.

  5. please, after “Post Name” automatically select blog post title, can l edit the permalink before l publish the blog post?

    • Yes, absolutely! You can always edit a permalink… and it’s certainly best to do that before you publish the article.

      I actually just updated this post with clear instructions on how to change your permalink before you publish an article (or edit it), so check that out 🙂

  6. Good content on your permalink advice. I also changed my permalink in WordPress that helped me in rankings.

  7. Up to date information as per 2021 standards and google updates, RYAN!
    There is a tons of misunderstanding in between people who just start blogging or doing it for clinets as a freelancer, they stuck at Permalink a lot of times. No i have your blog so definitely shared with them first so they too get all the benefits.
    Stay safe!
    Thanks for sharing

  8. Do you advocate creating a “parent-child” permalink in order to support a silo arrangement on your blog?

    • I’ve seen the parent-child permalink structure work very well for certain use cases, but for my blog I haven’t yet had the *need* to implement it… now, if I were to do a series of posts that are all related to an overarching theme / topic… like let’s say a dozen or two comparison articles between service providers in an industry, then it could make a lot of sense to have a structure like… “mysite(.)com/comparison/tool-abc-tool-xyz” or something along those lines.