Managing Settings: Permalinks

Learn how to configure the WordPress Permalink Settings and to use a redirect plugin for established permalinks.

Learning outcomes

  1. Defining permalinks and slugs.
  2. Changing permalinks using the built-in WordPress settings.
  3. Modifying category and tag links.
  4. Redirecting links using a plugin.

Comprehension questions

  1. What is the difference between permalinks and slugs?
  2. Can you customize permalinks?
  3. How do you set up user-friendly permalinks?


Good day, and welcome to Learn WordPress. Let’s talk about permalinks. But before we do that, let’s look at what we’ll be covering today. We will be defining permalinks, and slugs. We’ll be changing permalinks using the built-in WordPress settings, modifying category and tag links, and lastly redirecting links using a plugin.

So let’s get started. What are permalinks? Permalinks stand for permanent links. A permalink is a URL to your individual page or blog post, as well as categories and tags. Let’s see this in action. If I click top left to visit my site, we will notice that each page and posts has its own unique URL.

First up, we have our homepage URL, or permalink. Let’s move on to one of our pages and click on History of Travel, and here you will see the unique URL to this page. And as we move on to one of our other pages, you will notice that the permalink ends with the name of the page. Now we are going to focus our attention on posts. So let’s open up our first post The World Is Your Oyster. And as you will see, the permalink has a date as well as the name of the post. Let’s go back and open one of our other posts Go Local. And if we take a closer look, the permalink has the date and the name of the post. Lastly, let’s make our way to one of our categories that we’ve created, namely Travel. So what will a category permalink look like? The permalink ends in category and the name of the category.

The latter part of your URL is called a slug. And slugs can be defined as user-friendly names. It is the portion of the URL that refers to a specific page. Slugs tend to be very similar to the original title of the post or page or exactly the same. And take note, if a title is more than one word, spaces are replaced by a hyphen as the example here.

Let’s go to our Media Settings and look at how we can change our permalinks to a more readable or user-friendly format. When you are in your dashboard, go to Settings and scroll down to Permalinks. This will open up to your permalink settings and as you can see, our blog posts currently end with the day and name of the post. Let’s change that to only display the post name, and I think you will agree it’s easier to read. You can select one of the options available or create your own custom structure using the available tags. Once you have saved your changes, let’s go back to our website to see how the permalink structure for our blog posts has changed. So open up your blog post and as you will notice the date is no longer there.

Next you also have the option to change the permalink of an individual post or page. I have created a new blog post and called it Be On Guard And Vigilant As There Are Pickpockets Anywhere And Everywhere. And once we open our blog post, we have quite a long permalink. Let’s modify that to make it more user-friendly. Let’s return to our dashboard, open the post and in the sidebar settings, click on Permalink. The URL slug is the entire name of the post. So let’s replace that by typing in Pickpockets only. And once we click on Update, return to our site. Open the blog post and now the slug only displays Pickpockets.

Lastly, let’s discuss permalinks for categories and tags. Let’s open The World Is Your Oyster post. Scroll down and here you will see a category called Travel and a tag called Adventure. Let’s click on Travel; as we have seen before the permalink ends with category and the name of the category. Now if we go back and click on the tag Adventure the permalink ends with tag and the name of the tag. We can change the link structure by returning to our dashboard, Settings, and by clicking on permalinks again. At the bottom below Optional, it says, if you like you may enter custom structures for your category and tag URLs here. So instead of saying Categories, we can change it to something like Topics. And instead of your tag permalinks, saying Tags you can say Keywords for example. Let’s save our changes and return to our website. Open up the post and if we click on the travel category the permalink now says topics and travel, and not categories in travel anymore. And the same goes for the tag. Once we open the adventure tag, it now reads keywords and adventure, and not tags and adventure anymore.

Finally, we have to talk about redirecting permalinks. Make sure you only change link structures when a blog post or page is new. If you change an old permalink on an established website, visitors will not automatically be redirected to the new link. If you change the permalink of an old post and other pages on the web have linked to it, the old links will stop working. So if you don’t want to affect your search engine ranking or traffic to your established site, you need to make sure you install a plugin to redirect your old URLs.

Let’s make our way to Plugins > Add New. And in the search box, type in redirect links. There are different options to choose from, but I’m going to install an open-source plugin called Redirection. It’s got a good rating and more than 2 million installations. When you are ready, click on install and then activate the plugin. Once the plugin is installed, click on Settings. Then go ahead and click on Start Setup. Continue Setup. And once you’re ready, finish your setup. And lastly, click on Finished.

When you are on the Options page, click on Redirects top left. And here you can redirect old URLs. The Source URL refers to your old permalink or URL. And the target URL is your new URL that you will be using. Let’s use our Pickpocket post as an example. So next to source URL, enter the old permalink. And next to target URL let’s paste our on new permalink, and when your Add Redirect. So now when somebody clicks on your old link on an established site, they will be redirected to the new URL.

I trust you now have a better grasp on how to manage your permalinks. Visit Learn WordPress for more workshops and training material.

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Wes Theron

I am an Instructional Designer for the WordPress open-source project sponsored by Automattic. I am a strong supporter of the open-source movement. I have a background in education and content development. I am a husband, father, dreamer and lifelong learner.