How To Set Up and Rewrite Custom Permalinks in WordPress

How To Set Up and Rewrite Custom Permalinks in WordPress

Permalinks are the URLs of pages and individual posts published on your WordPress websites. Name Permalink is short for “Permanent Link” – meaning these links can always be used to access your pieces of content. We’ll take you through the process oc creating a custom WordPress permalink.

WordPress permalink by default has the URL structure

This default permalink structure is bad because it offers no clue about the post. The user only gets to know what the post is about by clicking on the link. As a result, users may be less inclined to visit the page, and search engines less inclined to rank it.

If you’re launching a new WordPress site, you’ll need to change your permalink structure the user and an SEO friendly way. Also, if you have an established WordPress site, and you want to set its permalinks, then this tutorial is for you. In this guide to WordPress permalinks, we’ll show you the right way to go about it.

In this article:

What are WordPress Permalinks?

Permalinks are web addresses to blog posts and pages. WordPress provides web addresses for every post or page that you create. They are permanent assets and are not expected to change. However, you can customize the permalink structure if the need arises.

Permalinks consist of your domain name and the link slug. For example, in the link, “” is your domain, while “/woocommerce/how-to-install-woocommerce” is the slug. 

WordPress has different options to choose from.

  1. Ugly permalink: WordPress creates a default permalink structure that contains numbers called the ID. This post ids are unique and identify every post or page you create. For example, This type is the default on all WordPress sites. Then again, this type of permalink setting is vague and is not good.
  1. Pretty permalink: These are SEO friendly URLs. They contain words that refer to the post or page. They look like this

This WP permalink structure requires mod_rewrite module in Apache (or a similar module in other web servers).

  1. Almost pretty permalink: Similar to the pretty permalinks. Almost pretty one usually has the index.php prefix. For example, the link above would be

This permalink structure can work without the mod-rewrite module.

SEO Implications of WordPress Permalinks

Optimizing your WordPress permalinks is not just about maintaining a clean and organized website structure; it plays a crucial role in enhancing your site’s search engine visibility.

The structure of your permalinks can significantly impact how search engines understand and rank your content, making it essential to adopt SEO-friendly practices in your permalink settings.

Incorporating Keywords

One of the most effective strategies for optimizing permalinks is the inclusion of relevant keywords within your URL slugs. Keywords in permalinks help search engines decipher the content of your pages, making it easier to match user queries with your content.

For instance, a permalink like is far more descriptive and SEO-friendly than It tells search engines and users alike what to expect from the page, thereby improving your content’s relevance and discoverability.

Keeping URLs Short and Sweet

While it’s beneficial to include keywords, shortness remains key in permalink optimization. Lengthy URLs can be cumbersome and detract from the user experience. Aim for concise permalinks that capture the essence of your content without unnecessary fillers.

This approach not only enhances readability but also prevents dilution of your keyword’s impact.

Avoiding Date-based Structures

While date-based permalinks can provide chronological context to your posts, they may unintentionally signal content obsolescence, particularly for evergreen topics.

Users and search engines might perceive older posts as less relevant, even if the content remains valuable. Opting for a non-date-based structure ensures your permalinks remain timeless and consistently relevant.

Utilizing Hyphens for Separation

In crafting your permalinks, it’s advisable to use hyphens (-) to separate words within your slugs. Hyphens are universally recognized by search engines as word separators, enhancing the readability of your URLs. Avoid using underscores (_) or spaces, as these can lead to indexing issues or broken links.

Consistency is Key

Maintaining a uniform permalink structure across your site helps establish a predictable and navigable URL pattern for both users and search engines.

Consistency in your permalink strategy not only aids in user navigation but also reinforces your site’s structure, making it easier for search engines to crawl and index your content.

Redirects and Canonical Tags

Changing permalink structures on an established site requires the use of 301 redirects to guide users and search engines from old URLs to the updated ones.

Additionally, employing canonical tags can help prevent duplicate content issues by specifying the preferred version of similar or identical content pages.

Performance Considerations of WordPress Permalinks

When configuring your WordPress site, the structure of your permalinks might seem like a minor detail, primarily concerning aesthetics and SEO.

However, the implications of permalink choices extend beyond just the surface, significantly impacting your website’s performance and loading times. Understanding these performance considerations is crucial for maintaining a fast, efficient site that provides a seamless user experience.

The Impact of Permalink Structure

At first glance, permalinks appear to be simple, user-friendly URLs that guide visitors and search engines to your content. Beneath this simplicity, however, lies a complex interaction with your WordPress site’s database and server.

Every time a user accesses a page, WordPress must parse the permalink, query the database, and retrieve the corresponding content. Complex permalink structures can, therefore, introduce unnecessary overhead, slowing down this process.

Simple vs. Complex Permalinks

WordPress offers various permalink settings, ranging from simple numeric IDs to more complex date and name-based structures. While complex permalinks provide more information and can be SEO-friendly, they can also strain your server resources.

For instance, including dates, categories, and post names in URLs might require more database queries to resolve, especially on sites with a large volume of content.

Best Practices for Performance-Optimized Permalinks

  • Keep It Simple: Opt for a straightforward permalink structure that includes the post name or page ID. This approach minimizes database lookups, enhancing your site’s responsiveness.
  • Avoid Using Dates: Unless your site’s content is highly time-sensitive, like a news portal, steer clear of date-based permalinks. Not only do they potentially lengthen URLs, but they also add complexity to the database queries.
  • Use Caching: Implement a robust caching strategy to minimize the impact of permalink structure on performance. Caching stores frequently accessed content, reducing the need for repetitive database queries.
  • Monitor Permalink Changes: If you decide to alter your permalink structure, especially on an established site, be mindful of the potential for broken links. Use redirection plugins to manage old URLs efficiently, ensuring a smooth transition without negatively impacting site speed.
  • Regularly Audit Your URLs: Use tools to monitor your site’s performance and identify any bottlenecks associated with permalink structure. Regular audits can help you fine-tune your settings for optimal speed.

We will now show you how to set up the pretty WP permalink structure.

Go to your WordPress admin area, and then go to Settings>>Permalinks.

Next, choose the “Post name” option. You may choose any other option listed on the page, depending on what your site is all about.

Postname option in Settings - WordPress Permalinks

Then click Save Changes.

Click on save changes button - WordPress Permalinks

Your WP permalink is set.

Now you want to test to see if enabling pretty permalinks work.

To do this, create a new post on your site, enter a topic, and save it as a draft. When done, look at the permalink created. It should look like this

Changing Post Permalink - WordPress Permalinks

You may decide to specify a custom structure. This enables you to choose the tags you want to add to the URL of your pages and posts. 

For example, you may want every link to contain the author name, category, and post name (such as

To do this, login to your Dashboard and go to Settings>Permalinks.

Now select your desired structure tags (in this case %author%, %category%, and %postname%), and then Save Changes.

Custom Permalink Structure - WordPress Permalinks

This custom WP permalink structure will now be used for all posts and pages on your WordPress site. 

Sometimes, you may want to post slugs differently for some posts on your site, something other than the default WordPress slug. We will show you how to do this.

Method One

If you use the post name structure, you can easily edit the WordPress generated URL slug. It is usually the title of the post.

On the admin area of your site, navigate to Posts >All Posts>select an existing post. Click on the permalink text box to edit the WordPress generated slug.

Editing Post Permalink

Customize the slug by editing it as you wish. You may want to include SEO keywords in the URL. This can also be done in the Yoast SEO section if you have this plugin installed.

Click Update to save the changes.

Adding SEO keywords in Slug

If you are working on a new post, you can quickly edit the generated slug before publishing your post.

Method Two

Another way of creating WordPress custom permalinks on some posts is through the use of Permalink Manager Plugin. This plugin is lightweight and it enables you to change the slug and even the custom permalink structure.

To show you how this permalink plugin works, let’s assume that your site’s permalink structure is the Custom WP structure, and the year, month, day, and author tags are added to the post name tag.

Setting up the custom structure url

To edit permalink on a post, select a previously published post.

Selecting previously published post for editing

Click on the Permalink Manager button under the title of the post. A textbox showing the post’s URL will be displayed. 

Permalink Manager plugin section

Edit the URL as you wish. In this case, we removed the year, month, date, and author tags. We kept only the relevant keywords.

Click Update to save these changes.

Click Update to save plugin changes

And that’s it, the permalink for this post has been customized. 

Troubleshooting Permalink Issues in WordPress

Encountering issues with permalinks is a common challenge for WordPress users, especially after making changes to permalink structures or migrating a website. Broken links, 404 errors, and unexpected redirects can significantly impact user experience and SEO. Here’s a guide to effectively troubleshoot and resolve common permalink issues.

Identifying the Issue

The first step in troubleshooting is identifying the exact nature of the problem. Is it a site-wide issue affecting all permalinks, or is it isolated to specific posts or pages? Tools like Broken Link Checker can help you identify broken links across your site.

Refreshing Permalinks

Often, permalink issues can be resolved by simply refreshing your permalink settings. Navigate to Settings > Permalinks in your WordPress dashboard, and without making any changes, click Save Changes. This action forces WordPress to flush and regenerate the permalink structure.

Checking .htaccess File

The .htaccess file plays a crucial role in URL rewriting for Apache servers. Incorrect configurations or missing rules can lead to permalink issues. Access your .htaccess file via FTP or File Manager in your hosting control panel and ensure the default WordPress rewrite rules are present:

# BEGIN WordPress
<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteRule ^index\.php$ - [L]
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
RewriteRule . /index.php [L]
# END WordPress

If you’re unsure, you can temporarily replace the content of your .htaccess file with the default WordPress rules above. Remember to back up the original file before making changes.

Plugin and Theme Conflicts

Sometimes, permalink issues can stem from conflicts with plugins or themes. To diagnose, deactivate all plugins and revert to a default WordPress theme like Twenty Twenty-One.

If this resolves the issue, reactivate each plugin and theme one by one to identify the culprit.

Contacting Your Hosting Provider

If you’ve tried the above steps without success, the issue might be server-related. Contact your hosting provider for assistance. They can check for server configuration issues that might be affecting permalinks.

Setting Up 301 Redirects for Changed URLs

If you’ve changed permalink structures for existing content, you’ll need to set up 301 redirects to prevent 404 errors. This can be done using plugins like Redirection, which allow you to easily map old URLs to new ones, preserving SEO value and ensuring a smooth user experience.

First, you should install WordPress plugin and activate it.

Next, go to Tools>>Redirection>>Start setup

Activating Redirection PluginRedirection plugin Start Setup button

The basic setup page will appear on the screen. Check all the applicable options and Continue setup.

Check options and click on Continue setup button

At this point, the plugin checks the site for at least one working REST API. If there is, it will indicate Good.

Next, Finish Setup. 

Click on Finish setup button

After setup completes, click on Finished.

Finishing the redirection

Redirection is now active on your site.

To create actual permanent redirects, click Add New.

  1. Enter into the “Source URL” textbox the site’s URL you want to redirect from.
  2. Type in the target URL you want to redirect to.
  3. Click Add Redirect.

Adding a new redirect

Real-world Impact of Permalink Changes: Case Studies

The theoretical benefits of optimizing WordPress permalinks for SEO and user experience are well-documented, but how do these changes play out in the real world?

Let’s delve into a couple of case studies that illustrate the tangible impact of modifying permalink structures on website traffic and search engine rankings.

Case Study 1: E-commerce Site Revamp

  • Background: An online retailer specializing in handmade crafts noticed stagnant growth in organic traffic and poor search engine rankings for key product categories. The website initially used the default WordPress permalink structure (/?p=123), which provided no contextual clues about the content.
  • Action Taken: The retailer transitioned to a more descriptive permalink structure (/category/product-name), ensuring that product names and relevant keywords were included in the URLs. They also implemented 301 redirects to preserve the SEO value of existing links.
  • Results: Within three months of the change, the site experienced a 25% increase in organic traffic. Product pages began ranking higher for targeted keywords, leading to improved visibility and a 15% uptick in sales. The clear, keyword-rich permalinks contributed to a better understanding of the site’s content by search engines and users alike.

Case Study 2: Blogging Platform Optimization

  • Background: A popular blogging platform with a focus on travel content was struggling to gain traction in search results, despite high-quality, engaging articles. The site’s permalinks were structured by date (/year/month/day/post-name), making the URLs lengthy and less focused on the article topics.
  • Action Taken: The platform decided to remove the date components from the permalinks, opting for a simpler structure that included only the post name (/post-name). This change was complemented by a comprehensive SEO audit and the implementation of 301 redirects to handle the old URLs.
  • Results: The simplification of permalinks led to a more streamlined user experience and made the URLs more shareable on social media. Within six months, the platform saw a 40% increase in organic traffic and a significant improvement in the average position of articles on search engine results pages (SERPs). The concise, topic-focused permalinks played a crucial role in enhancing the site’s SEO performance.

Key Takeaways

These case studies underscore the importance of a well-considered permalink structure in achieving SEO success and driving website traffic. Changing permalinks can seem daunting, especially for established sites, but with careful planning and the use of redirects, the benefits can far outweigh the initial challenges.

Whether you’re running an e-commerce site, a blogging platform, or any other type of website, optimizing your permalinks can lead to measurable improvements in visibility, user engagement, and overall site performance.

Remember, every website is unique, and the impact of permalink changes can vary based on numerous factors, including the site’s existing authority, content quality, and competitive landscape.

It’s always advisable to monitor closely and adjust your strategy based on the results you observe.


Unless you require some other format, we recommend the post name permalink structure. 

If you were using the default permalink structure and you decide to change, please ensure you take care of redirects.

If you are creating a new site, you should not have to worry about redirect rules, simply set the WordPress permalink structure you prefer and you should be good to go.

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 This post was written by Mesheal Fegor

Mesheal Fegor is a Web/WordPress Developer and technical writer. His WordPress help articles have been featured on Kinsta and other sites. Mesheal holds a master's degree in computer science. His writing focuses on technical WordPress issues, ranging from core WordPress problems, to issues with WooCommerce, and more.

Last edited by: FixRunner Team