One of the first things I do with any new WordPress site is customize the permalink structure.

If you’re not familiar, the permalink structure determines what your post URLs look like. (Permalink is short for “permanent link.”)

The default WordPress permalink structure looks something like this: http://example.com/?p=123

Pretty ugly, right? Visually, I’d much prefer something like http://example.com/sample-post/.

Links like this are more intuitive, they’re easier to remember, and they look nicer in general.

But it’s not just about aesthetics.

A custom permalink structure is also a key part of WordPress SEO—because it allows you to include keywords in your URLs, helping your pages to achieve high rankings for those keywords.

Luckily, editing your WordPress permalinks is a pretty straightforward process.

How To Edit Your WordPress Permalink Structure

To customize your permalinks, click Permalinks under the Settings menu in your WordPress dashboard.

On this page, you can choose one of the standard permalink structures for your posts, or create one of your own using a set of variables.

Which Option Should You Choose?

Personally, I’m a fan of the “Post name” structure. It’s simple, search engine-friendly, and easy to understand.

If you prefer to include dates in your URLs (e.g. if you publish a lot of timely news content), that’s perfectly fine. But as a general rule, it’s always a good idea to include the post name in your permalinks.

Customizing Your Category/Tag Base

By default, your category and tag URLs look like http://example.com/category/business/ and http://example.com/tag/travel/, respectively.

But the section at the bottom of the Permalinks page allows you to customize those link structures:

If you enter something into the fields here, you can change the “base” for your category and tag URLs. For example, entering “topics” into the “Category base” field will make your category links look like http://example.com/topics/uncategorized/.

This is totally optional—just a nice way to further customize your links if you’re unhappy with the default settings.

How To Edit The Permalink Of An Individual Post/Page

After you configure your permalinks, you’ll have the option to set a “slug” for individual posts and pages. The slug is the URL-friendly name of the post, and it’s usually generated automatically using your post title.

However, you may want to set it to something shorter or more keyword-focused. You can do this by clicking “Edit” next to the permalink on the post editor:

Note: I don’t recommend editing the slug of a previously published post, as this is likely to break any existing links to that post.