Making Friendly URLs

You may have noticed that when you write a blog post in WordPress, your post’s title becomes part of the URL or permalink for that post. This is really handy and prevents “ugly” links like yoursite.com/?p=1837. But if you have a nice long title, the automatic URL that’s created can be a little overbearing – and sometimes even uglier than the question mark style, especially when key punctuation gets removed.

Additionally, these nice casual human-friendly titles don’t always lend themselves to search-engine-friendly (SEF) URLs. Of course, I’m not telling you this so you’ll start writing short boring titles for your posts, since you are, after all, ultimately writing for people. I’m telling you this so you’ll be interested in making your blog posts good for humans and robots (as I like to call the search engines we do these things for).

For example, you might have written a post something like this:

1-default-slug

But then your URL ends up like yoursite.com/get-ready-for-the-annual-tulip-festival-april-15-18-2013/ Not terrible, but it could be better.

Let’s start by clicking the Edit button at the end of that permalink.2-click-edit

Now our “slug” (the lowercase, hyphenated version of our title that’s used in the URL) is editable.3-editable-slug

Let’s change that slug to something short and sweet.4-change-slug

And just click OK when it looks good.5-clicked-ok

Now you’ll have a really nice, to-the-point URL like yoursite.com/2013-tulip-festival/ which is nice for robots and humans.

WordPress won’t let you create 2 identical links, so be careful about making the slugs too simple. If you do end up choosing a slug that’s already been used, WordPress will append “-2″ at the end.

Important! Once a post or page has been published, you shouldn’t go back and change it unless you really, really, really need to, and in that case you should be sure to setup a 301 redirect (you may need the assistance of your web developer for this one). This is because if you change the permalink, the original link, which may already be indexed and bookmarked, will stop working and lead visitors to the dreaded “404 Page Not Found” error. A 301 redirect will notify search engines that the page has permanently moved and redirect any visitors, but it’s best to have a good link from the start.