WordPress Tutorial: Customising, (Customizing), Your Permalinks

Dog reading paper [toc]


WordPress Permalinks allow you to make your blog’s URLs, (webpage address), to have a more readable layout, which is helpful both to your visitors and to search engines.

This is one of the things you should do, ideally before you start writing posts, as part of the process of setting up your blog.

The Permalink process

The process of converting the post name, the category or author’s name involves  sanitising, using the WordPress team’s word or changing the text into a more web friendly version.

So the blog post title – say ‘What is a blog?’ is converted as follows:

  • Original text:  What is a blog?
  • all text is turned into lower case:  what is a blog?
  • all spaces between words are converted into dashes: what-is-a-blog?
  • everything that is not a number or character is removed : what-is-a-blog

So in the standard WordPress installation my article ‘What is a blog?’ will have the following URL:   blogbasics.com/?p=13

Using Permalinks I can change the URL of the post to just the the post name

blogbasics.com/what-is-a-blog  or to include the category

blogbasics.com/start-up/what-is-a-blog or to include the post id, category and post name    blogbasics.com/13/start-up/what-is-a-blog

Why the post number?

It makes sure that the post is unique and it helps WordPress get to the post details a lot, lot faster in its database.

WARNING: Changing the Permalinks structure means that the post appears to be in a different place on the web and so links to the page will not work.

So it is difficult changing the Permalinks Structure once the blog is established.  I will write an article showing the best way to redirect the links, but I warn it requires a lot of work.  (I’ve just updated this site and I have had to manually update 80+ links – I don’t think I would do it if I had more posts).

Accessing the WordPress Permalinks Settings Screen

1 Log into the WordPress Dashboard

2 Click the Settings Menu  (left hands side near bottom of menu options)

arrow to settings

3 Click the link to Permalinks

arrow to permalinks

You will then see the  Permalinks screen displayed

WordPress Permalinks default screen

To Change Your Permalink Structure

You can just select one of the options Day and name, Month and name or numeric, but most bloggers use the Custom Structure option giving the post name, (post title) or category and post name.

1  Click  Custom Structure

2 Add the new Permalink structure command

This will normally be either  %postname%  to display the post’s title or

%category%/%postname%  to display the post’s category and the post’s title

WordPress recommends that you do not either of the above options as if you have two posts with identical post name or an identical combination of category and post name then the second post will not be displayed.

However, many of the world’s leading bloggers use one or other of these combinations and I have therefore decided to follow their example.

WordPress Permalinks - customize

Please note the Custom Structure above should in fact be /%postname%.

I have just modified the structure with the command /%post_id%/%category%/%postname%


3 Click the Save Changes button

WordPress permalink options save button

Your system will then be updated with your new Permalinks Structure.

Other Permalink Options

For most people the post name or category/ post name are sufficient.  But you can use the options below to customise your Permalink options.

Note the key words in the commands are a percentage sign in front and behind the word, such as %postname%

The commands

%year%  –  The year of the post, four digits, for example 2004

%monthnum%  – Month of the year, for example 05

%day% – Day of the month, for example 28

%hour% – Hour of the day, for example 15

%minute% – Minute of the hour, for example 43

%second% – Second of the minute, for example 33

%post_id% – The unique ID # of the post, for example 423

%tag% – A sanitized version of the tag name

%author% – A sanitized version of the author name.

You can also use dividers, eg >, /, –, \, |  though generally the forward slash, /, is used.

Text will also appear as it is written. So when I was setting up this blog I once put in the Permalink structure:   category/%postname%

This was then displayed as   blogbasics.com/category/what-is-a-blog instead of blogbasics.com/start-up/what-is-a-blog

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