Some Common WordPress Terms Explained – Part 2

Wordpress Search Engine OptimizationYesterday I explained some of the common terms you might see when hosting a WordPress website.

Today, I will delve a little deeper into this, looking at URLs and Permalinks.

Let’s continue …

URL – URL is an acronym for Uniform Resource Locator. Every page on the Internet has a unique “address”, known as its URL. When you add links to a web page, each link has a different address, or URL. You could equate this with mailing a letter. When you send a letter to someone at a particular household or office, you are sending it to a particular destination. This destination has its own unique address, whether it be a physical location or a post office box. This is how mail carriers know where to deliver the letter. A URL works much the same way. It signifies a unique “address” on the Internet. A typical URL looks something like “http://mycoolwebsite.com/“ or http://mycoolwebsite.com/mycoolwebpage/“.

In the first instance, the URL is the domain name of the website (mycoolwebsite.com). In the second instance, the link refers to a particular page on the website (/mycoolwebpage/). You can also link to images (http://mycoolwebsite.com/mycoolpicture.jpg”), PDFs (http://mycoolwebsite.com/mycoolreport.pdf”), etc. In all cases, the URL is unique to that one page, image, PDF, etc.

URLs are often referred to as “links”, as in “Can you send me the link to that cool web page you found?”.

Permalinks – A Permalink is, as the name suggests, the permanent URL (or link) of a webpage, whether it is a static page, such as your Home page or About Me page, or a blog post. In WordPress, the default method of displaying links (or URLs) is in a format that looks something like “http://mycoolwebsite/?p=123”. The “123” simply refers to the number of the page or blog post that you have published. I think we can all agree though that this is pretty ugly. It also does nothing to help you rank well in Search Engines like Google, Yahoo or Bing. Luckily, you can define how you want your permalinks to be created.

To do this, you would go to the WordPress Dashboard sidebar, click on “Settings” and then click on “Permalinks”.

Once you do this, you will see another window called Permalink Settings.

As you can see, the default setting is the ugly “http://mycoolwebsite/?p=123” setting. To have WordPress display a much more meaningful link, select the Post Name option.

As you can see, WordPress adds /{f6f7d31e87099d0d6b7ac3a4bf513410b4bc7fc64f9a286f558d07e02807de3e}postname{f6f7d31e87099d0d6b7ac3a4bf513410b4bc7fc64f9a286f558d07e02807de3e}/ in the Custom Structure area. This is essentially a placeholder that tells WordPress to insert the name of the page or post after the URL of the website. Now, instead of a  link like “http://mycoolwebsite/?p=123” we will have one that looks like “http://mycoolwebsite/mycoolpage/”.

Besides being a “prettier” link, this structure can also help you in Search Engine results. Page titles are very important when having Search Engines index your website, and when deciding what pages to return for specific search terms.

For instance, if you had a website that sold men’s shoes, you would have a much better chance of showing up in search results with a URL like http://mycoolwebsite/mens-brown-leather-loafers/” than “http://mycoolwebsite/?p=362”. 

Changing your permalink settings is one of the first things you should do when setting up your WordPress website, and, as you can see, it is very easy to do.

Tomorrow we’ll be looking at the Media section of your WordPress website and the importance of properly naming the images.

Mark Pridham

Mark Pridham is the owner of The Pridham Group, a digital agency based in Saint John, New Brunswick. A life long resident of Saint John, Mark is passionate about design, entrepreneurship, and supporting and promoting local businesses.

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