On your way to gaining hundreds, then thousands of new visitors a month, every visit to your site counts. If you’re like most website owners, you probably have a running check list of site enhancements that are doable now (simple DIY fixes) and costly services or projects that will have to wait for later (like serious coding projects from hell). This is my #1 tip for new website owners + you can implement it in just 5 minutes (yourself). This simple update positively impacts your SEO and encourages new readers to visit your site from social media.
Today I’m talking about getting rid of those ugly URLs and implementing PRETTY permalinks. I’m going to teach you how to quickly update your permalinks right in WordPress. It’s best to make this update when you’ve recently launched a site, but I also recommend it for sites that have been in existance for a while because of the benefits. If you want to make these updates to an existing website, check out my comments at the end.
Why do you need pretty permalinks?
People have a bias towards clicking links that are descriptive and predictable. Less people are likely to feel safe clicking links that don’t appear to be coming from a professional website.
Unfortunately, you have to go in and manually change your permalinks to appear “safe” for visitors to click. WordPress automatically assigns a generic permalink style to your blog posts and pages. The default URL stucture contains random numbers instead of text from your post title.
The problem with boring out-of-the-box permalink styles
The default permalink style does not look polished or put-together-enough for people that truly care about their website branding. Fortunately, there is an easy way to fix your permalinks in WordPress that can make your website more appealing, which as a result can help motivate social media followers to visit your website from Twitter and Facebook.
- They’re ugly (“yourwebsite.com/?p=11973”)
- They aren’t trustworthy
Why descriptive permalinks rule
Using the pre-determined permalink style doesn’t bother some people, but if you are posting to social media (where every character counts), you’ll want to motivate people to trust your brand and visit your site. Given the options below, which would you rather click? The one that leads you to a questionable page, or the one that you can trust is sending you to specified content?
Option 1 | Default permalink: yourwebsite.com/?p=11973
Option 2 | Post name permalink: yourwebsite.com/what-this-post-is-about
How your permalinks look in social media
Some people are hesitant to use post name permalinks becaue they don’t want to use up the characters required for a descriptive permalink. While you may take up more characters on Twitter, for example, they will crop out some of the link as you see below. This allows your social media followers to feel confident that you are sending them to your own, reputable site.
— Jenna K (@sipbitego) September 22, 2016
How to update website permalinks in WordPress
- Log in to your WordPress dashboard
- Hover over “Settings” in the left navigation
- Click “Permalinks” and select “Post name” as the permalink structure like in the example below
- Hit save
When to update your permalink settings
It’s ideal to update permalink settings right from the beginning of building a new site. It’s one of the first things I’d recommend implementing to help get your blog posts optimized for SEO. Plus, why wouldn’t you want to be sharing URLs that more people want to click?
If you have a website that has been up and running for a while, you’ll want to be careful updating your permalinks because any existing links will need to redirect to the updated URLs. Changing the links can modify unexpected things, like posts you’ve already scheduled in Buffer and links from other websites. If you don’t re-route people to the new, pretty permalink URL pages, visitors might get your 404 redirect. You will probably want to consult with a developer if you have more posts than you’d manually want to update.
Go forth + share pretty permalinks!
I hope I’ve inspired you to make your permalinks pretty – not only to encourage prospects to check out your social media links, but to also help your SEO and polish your site’s branding. Its these little updates that keep motivated entrepreneurs chugging along through DIY enhancements until you are “big enough” to get official help from a web developer or designer full-time.