So what the heck is a Permalink and why do I care?
Until fairly recently, when you looked at the top of your browser, where you can type in the URLs of sites you want to visit, what you saw up there likely made sense. If you were on the site’s “About” page, at the end of the URL you probably saw … /about.html. If you were on the “Contact” page it said /contact.html. Made sense, didn’t it?
Nowadays what do you see? If its a WordPress site or blog, the end of the URL may say something like …/post.php?post=447. What did that mean? Websites all used to be what are called “static” websites. Once a page was up coded and on the web, its name was there until it needed to change or was taken down. These days many websites and blogs are “dynamic” sites. This means that the content is not fixed and the page is generated on-the-fly as you click around to that page. From a website construction point of view, this makes life a lot easier. For instance – if a website has ten pages and has the same footer information on each page, you don’t have to make those entries on each of the ten pages, you can just write one “footer” file and then just have each page grab that information when it is accessed. (and then with something like WordPress just about everything is actively generated)
Anyway, those letters, numbers,?’s, etc. mean something to computers… but its mostly gibberish to you and me. The good news is that when WordPress was developed, they put in the capability to change that gobbeldy gook into something decipherable by humans. Unfortunately, WordPress doesn’t come out of the box set to make use of this. Over on the left side of your Administrator panel, click on “Settings” and then “Permalinks”. At the top of the Permalink page, you’ll see a number of choices, including the one that has been pre-chosen for you. At the bottom of that list you’ll see “Custom”. In the space provided enter the following (without the quotes) “%postname%“. Now, when you write a post, the URL for it will show the name of the post as part of the URL. This makes it easier for people to remember and it will help the search engine robots navigate your site more readily. (look up at the top of this site ↑) Those robots like English as much as we do!
What about those other options? They might be revalent to your site, especially if it is big. Check out the WordPress Codex for more extensive Permalink information.
Now, one thing to keep in mind! If you have already made pages or posts in your WordPress, don’t go changing the Permalink setting willy-nilly! You can break your site! WordPress will have already cataloged your pages and posts, and if you change the Permalink setting, WordPress will lose track of the names it has already given them. Don’t worry, there are ways around it and I will have a post about how to change things in the middle of the stream. If you need assistance on that before I get around to writing that post, drop me a line and I’ll fill you in)