Permalinks: how pertinent are they to a blog?


© Michael Scott, Slug, via Flickr If you want to know why there's a picture of a slug, watch the video below

In blogging there is all this jargon, like words such as permalinks, that you need to learn.

When I first started blogging, I came across lots of peculiar words I had never seen before. They were, of course, American, and they were, of course, techno-speak that techie people knew and spoke about every day.

But that doesn't help a beginner blogger. I'm afraid there is this wonderful (!) new vocabulary you need to learn if you want to succeed in blogging. And it's enough to drive you to distraction (or drink, or worse).

Why is it so difficult?

There's nothing more annoying than coming across a tutorial that is stuffed to the gills with jargon and techno-speak. If the author is assuming you already know this kind of language, then it stands to reason their tutorial will be fast-paced and extremely difficult to follow.

Midlife bloggers need a different kind of teaching. Slower, repetitive, thoroughly explained, lots of recapitulation.

When I teach my 1:1 tutorials, I often find I have to repeat things in different ways, and often relating it to the learner's lifestyle or business.

The trouble is, most tutorial providers can't be bothered with this sort of thing. It's boring to them. They're much happier to rush through the process, waiving their mouse about wildly and spouting out a load of gobbledegook that only confuses you even more.

That's why I'm here

Actually, creating a blog with easy to understand videos, slideshares and tutorials is not easy to do. I have been doing it for years in my other blog Fairy Blog Mother with some success. But as with all things, the world moves on, technology changes (not always for the better) and new tutorials need to be created.

I would like to teach you, bit by bit, how to thoroughly understand every aspect about your blog. Once you get familiar with it, then you will find it easier to produce fabulous and successful posts. And I will only give you the most necessary elements, without confusing you with additional add-ons and plugins and all that sort of shenanigans.

And Sarah's prompt for Day 2 of the blogging challenge was about keywords, which reminded me about permalinks.

So what are these permalinks then?

This is a part of a blog post that is often missed, or neglected, because it isn't immediately obvious what they are and why these are needed.

Whenever posts are published, they are allocated their own webpages. Therefore these webpages need to have a web-address or URL given to them, so they can be accessed independently. These are called permalinks.

The default option usually looks like this:


Unfortunately, if you have a WordPress.com blog, you are stuck with what WordPress gives you, which is usually something like


and this cannot be changed. But if you have a WordPress.org blog, you can certainly can change your permalinks to improve them.

I've created a short video that should explain it better. Have a little listen to this. (You might want to make it fill the whole screen so you can see the detail, or view it properly on YouTube):

Why my permalinks look different

First of all, I want to make sure the keyword I use in my post is in both the headline and the permalink.

Then I want to make my posts' permalinks are easy to use. The search engines have scant regard for small, unimportant words, and have a tendency to leave them out (or ignore them). But they are important to my headline, so that it makes sense.

I like to change selected permalinks to shorter versions, making sure they contain that all important keyword, and are easier to type into the browser bar.

You see, a long post headline might produce a long permalink, with many dashes in between the words. And if you have the kind of blog that automatically takes out the small, unimportant words, your post's permalink could look pretty strange.

So I've shortened this post's permalink, to make it easier to remember and type in. That's why it is http://www.beginnerbloggers.co.uk/permalinks-explained/ ‎which says exactly what's in the tin.

You can do this for your blog's pages as well as the posts too, which is great. This means your titles can be as long as you like, with the permalinks short, sweet and infinitely more practical.

Have a go

Watch the video and let me know what you think. Did I explain it clearly enough? I know zooming into various aspects would have been more helpful, but this skill will come later.

And has it encouraged you to check your own permalinks too?

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Alice Elliott writes the Beginner Bloggers blog for beginner and post-beginner bloggers to “explain things really simply” about blogging and WordPress. She specialises in simple, easy to understand, highly visual courses and tutorials using ordinary, everyday words. Why not also visit her award winning Fairy Blog Mother blog to learn some more.

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  • Jessica says:

    Really good explanation of the importance of permalinks! Thank you!

  • Sarah Arrow says:

    Not only do you have to learn the language of blogging, you have to learn American too. I think the hardest thing for me has been doing stuff (a technical term) in HTML and having to write things like ;color or center instead of ;colour or centre. So I now I write American more than I should as the added u will probably break html and cause my blog post to fall down around my ears 😀

    • Thanks Sarah. I remember when I first started using a Mac back in 1985. It had strange words such as ‘Quit’ and ‘Trash’. I knew what the latter meant, but the former was quite new to me, and it took me a while to realise it meant ‘Stop’. I notice now that WordPress uses the word ‘Bin’ rather than ‘Trash’ when deleting a post or page.

      Noting the word Bin rather than Trash

  • Very good explanation, every time i do a new blog post..it does ask me to tick “Permlink”. Didn’t know what it was!!

    Thank you 🙂

  • Annie says:

    Thanks for this. Learnt something new on my Sunday lie-in😀 Every day my blog is improving and I enjoy reading your helpful tips. Thank you.

  • Jo says:

    My favourite bit was deleting the slug and wish it was as easy to do this in the garden. Sometimes it feels like such a monumental task understanding WP but once again you’ve really understood things from the POV of a technophobe. Much appreciate Alice. I’ll go back to all old posts and update all my permalinks. Jo x
    Jo recently posted…BritMums Live and the Ten CommandmentsMy Profile

    • Be careful about editing your permalinks on an established blog, Jo, as by doing this you’ll make any links made back to your blog, ie via social media, invalid and lead back to a 404 page. There are plugins to help with redirection, but there still may leave a bit of a mess.

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