Web Tech – What Is a Permalink?

The term "permlink" has been around for a long time on the Internet and anyone who uses WordPress has run into it, but what, exactly does it mean? The basic geeky definition is the direct link to a post in a blog, bulletin board or a forum after the post has passed off the front page. Because the link remains unchanged for that post, it makes it possible to find that post.

In the very early days of blogs and forums, it was much like how Facebook is now. If you wanted to link to a Facebook entry on your blog post, you couldn't because there is no permanent link to it. That's how all sites once were.

Then someone came up with a way to "permanently link" to any post, and everything changed. The first permalinks weren't pretty and they weren't really very human-friendly, but they worked, and if you put one into your article or blog post, that link would always go to that page.

With WordPress, the default way that permalinks look is odd. It's not human friendly, it's not easy to remember and it definitely does nothing for your site SEO. They are full of question marks and equal signs and numbers. That's because they aren't actually pointing to a page, they're pointing to the place in the database where that page lives.

Several versions of WordPress ago, they added the function that allows you to customize the permalinks. There's lots you can do with them. You can have them list the year, month, date and name of the post. Sort of like this:

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"http://YourSite.com/2013/02/21/web-tech-what-is-a-permalink"

These days, most people just want the post name in the link, so it would look like this:

"http://YourSite.com/web-tech-what-is-a-permalink"

The way to do that is to go to your WordPress admin area, to "Settings", then "Permalinks" and choose "Custom Structure". In that field, type "

/% postname% /

Put all of that in, including the slashes and percent signs. That tells the program how to build the link.

One word of caution. If your site has been around a while, or even if it's fairly new, and there are lots of links out there pointing back to your site, don't change the permalink structure! The whole point is so links always work, and if you change the structure, those links you have out there in the world pointing back to you are no longer valid. If that's the case, you'll just have to live with funny looking permalinks and look longingly at all your friends who have pretty permalinks on all their blogs.

If you are just setting up a new WordPress site, however, customize your permalinks now so they will always be pretty and will always work.

Source by Geoff Hoff

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