WordPress Best Practices, Part 4: Permalinks for Performance and SEO

by Paul on September 13, 2011

Check out this video on what WordPress Permalinks are, and how to setup your WordPress properly to use them.

For all previous entries in the Best Practices Series, check out the links below:

Now, on to the meat and potatoes of WordPress Best Practices Part 4.

What are permalinks?

Permalinks are direct links to your articles, posts, or pages.  They are: “permanent links”

By default, WordPress uses query strings for your pages, so they will look something like:


It is this ?p=123 that is significant here.

When a page address has a question mark (‘?’) in it, it’s not considered a “permanent link”.  Take for example the permanent link of the page you’re reading right now:


No matter when in the future you go to this link, it will always (hopefully) bring you to this page. It is the permanent address for this page and is helpful for a couple of reasons.

Why are permalinks useful/better than the default?

Depending on who you talk to, you’ll get different answers to this question.

Mainly, I use them because they’re often “prettier”. If I read the URL of a permalink page I’ll probably know a little of what that page is about and when I’m linking to it, I’ll know I’m linking to the correct one.

Then there is Search Engine Optimization (SEO). There is an over-riding opinion that placing keywords in your permalinks that are relevant to your post/article, increases the pages’ relevance in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) and thereby increasing your visibility.

Of course, there is much more to SEO than permalinks, but SEO is about a cumulative effect in-page, off-page, and over time, so every little helps.

How to set Permalinks in WordPress using best practices

There is an oft-overlooked performance penalty with permalinks if you don’t do them correctly.  And, unfortunately, it’s a common problem with many WordPress websites and most webmasters aren’t even aware of it.

Due to the mechanism that WordPress uses to handles permalinks, your permalink structure should always begin with a number. [WordPress Codex]

To start your permalinks with text causes a performance penalty that increases with every page that you add to your site.

The video shows you how to change WordPress permalinks and some of the best practices for doing so.

Next Step

If you haven’t setup your permalinks on your WordPress site, now is the time to give it a go.

If you would prefer to have all this and more done for your, please contact us to see how we can help you with your website. For more information, have a read about our managed WordPress hosting service.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Paul September 19, 2011 at 11:50 am

What permalink format would you recommend?


Paul September 19, 2011 at 12:58 pm

Hi Paul,

There’s a couple of formats that I use for permalinks in Wordpress, but as I mentioned on the article above, and the video, you’re best starting with a number. The one I use for HostLikeToast.com is:


You could also use:

or if you want to include the author in the url:


Let me know how they work out for ya.


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