What the Heck is a Permalink?

You’ve seen “permalink” used in your WordPress dashboard.

It shows under every post title and there’s an entire settings page devoted to your “permalink structure“.

Clearly, it’s an important term for a WordPress site. Let’s cover permalinks in detail now, and figure them out once and for all.

What are permalinks?

Permalink stands for “permanent link”. And by permanent “link” we really mean permanent “URL”.

Take a look at the address bar in your browser right now. You’ll see this URL:


^ That is a permalink.

That permalink is the URL where this post exists, and where it is always supposed to exist. Now that I’ve published this post at this URL, it’s supposed to stay at this URL.

For all intents and purposes, you can simply think of a permalink as a URL.

Does this mean I can’t change my permalinks?

Despite the “permanent” part of permalink, you can change the URL of any post or page at any time.

That said, there are some issues to be wary of when changing URLs. I recommend following our guide on changing page URLs to update any URLs without issue.

What is a permalink structure?

A permalink structure is simply a standard for creating your URLs.

WordPress has five permalink structures to choose from, and the option for a custom structure. Here’s an example.

Example #1

This is what your post URLs will look like if you pick the “Month and Name” permalink structure:


That’s your domain followed by the year the post was published, then the month the post was published, and lastly the title of the post.

Example #2

Now here’s what that same post’s URL would look like with the “Plain” permalink structure:


That’s your domain followed by a link parameter “p” that is equal to the post ID which in this case is 23.

Example #3

For most sites, it’s best to use the “post name” structure which will look like this:


That’s your domain followed by the title of the post. This URL is the simplest and easiest to read which is why it’s best for most sites.

In practice, all you have to do to select the “post name” permalink structure. Your posts and pages will automatically use their titles in the URL, and you can edit them manually as well.

Updating your permalink structure will update all your URLs, so make sure to setup redirects if you have an established site.

Permalinks? Simple.

“Permalink” is a misnomer. The term should be “permaURL”, or just URL 😉

Remember to think “URL” every time you see “permalink”, and you’ll have no trouble using and understanding them in WordPress.

Permalink structures are bit more complex, but they’re essentially a standard for naming your URLs. I hope this has been clear and helpful, but please leave a comment below if you have any questions.

Ben Sibley
Ben Sibley is a WordPress theme designer & developer, and founder of Compete Themes.

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