A “permalink” is how the URL (website address) of a WordPress post appears. It is very important that you set your desired Permalink structure first thing after building your new website for a few reasons. First, because search engines index your blog based on your post’s URLs, and if you change from one to another you will loose any rankings that you have already received for that post. And second, any other incoming links to your post from other websites will no longer work causing you to loose out on any traffic from those links as well. As a general rule of SEO, it is best to have the keywords that you would like any given post to rank for located within the posts permalink.
So then which Permalink Structure Is the Best?
To configure your Permalinks click the “Permalinks” tab in your WordPress Dashboard located under “Settings” on the left side of your screen.
Well now that we know that having your keywords which you wish to rank for located within your post’s permalink is best for SEO purposes, it is obvious that the “Default” and “Numeric” settings are not your best options. The “Day and name” or “Month and name” option will place your post’s name (which should be the keywords that you are targeting for any given post) into your post’s permalink, but they also include a lot of numbers before hand which is not ideal for SEO purposes. The most ideal permalink would be your website address followed immediately by your post’s name (which again should be the keywords that you are targeting for that post).
Custom Structure Permalink Settings
To accomplish this you want to use the “Custom Structure” option to display your permalinks. You can use a number of different variables to define your WordPress permalinks, but most of the time you will really only need two. These are the %category% and %postname% permalink structures. You will need to enter these into the “Custom Structure” option box using forward slashes ( / ) to separate these variables so that they look like this: /%category%/%postname%
This structure will display the category that the post belongs to as well as the post’s name in your permalink. If you are not using categories to separate your posts or you simply do not want to include the category in your permalink (which I personally do not do, again because the “optimal” SEO permalink is the cleanest, shortest, and simplest) then you can instead just place the /%postname% structure into the option box so that your permalink will only display your website address and the post’s name.
If you do chose to use the /%category% structure and your post belongs to two categories, then the one with a top category ID will be selected as the category name (note that the category IDs are assigned according to the order you created them and not according to alphabetic order).