We're quickly learning the ins and outs of WordPress through our new site, MeetingInTheMedia.com, using WordPress v. 4.1.1. We were all fine and happy with our new WordPress.com website – until we realized that we can’t change the structure of post permalinks. A permalink is the permanent link URL that is auto-generated when you make a new post on any blog site.
Below you can see a screenshot of the permalink structure of posts on WordPress.com.
We had created 40 draft posts before we decided to notice that all of my posts include the ‘date created’ in the permalink. Therefore, it would be clear that all of our posts were created the same day, 2015/02/17. And, if you’re already using WordPress.com, you know that the only part of a permalink you can ‘Edit’ is the part highlighted in yellow, auto-generated based on the title of your post.
We were nervous at first; we thought that all of these draft posts would display the date as ‘2015/02/17′ when published, even if we posted them a month down the line.
So, we tested this theory.
On 2/19, we published a draft we created on 2/17. When we viewed the permalink of the now-published post, the date in the permalink had automatically updated to match the date the post was actually made public. Instead of 2015/2/17 in the permalink (the date we created the draft), the permalink listed the date as 2015/2/19, the date we published the draft.
So, if this is your only issue, WordPress.com will auto-correct the date when you post a draft.
However, the titles for our posts will be pretty long, and the date is only lengthening our post links. After doing some research, we also learned that dates can interfere with, and hinder, search results; with dates in the permalink, your posts will receive less traffic. Removing dates in your links can help boost SEO, or search engine optimization.
Though news and publishing sites benefit from a date in the permalink (the date determines whether or not something is new ‘news’), most sites or blogs don’t need the date in the permalink. Your WordPress site lists the post date directly on the post – just in case a reader is curious. The date is still tied to your post and will appear in archives; the permalink doesn’t affect the actual post date.
We thought, something so simple – changing the way your permalink appears – isn’t a feature on WordPress.com?
We spent two hours researching this idea – and it took two hours because people who write “helpful tips” for WordPress users never differentiate between a WordPress.COM site, and a WordPress.ORG site – they simply say ‘WordPress,’ and you have to read the entire thing before you figure out they’re all using WordPress.ORG. It was a real bummer when we kept checking our WordPress.com ‘settings’ tab, searching for the ‘Permalink’ option – and found nothing.
There is little to no documentation about permalinks on WordPress.com. In fact, searching the word ‘Permalink’ on the WordPress.com ‘support’ forum yields no results. We finally found this thread about permalinks on the general WordPress.com forums in which a staff member explains that you can’t do a damn thing about permalinks with WordPress.com. Even if you upgrade your .com site through a WordPress.COM payment plan and decide to pay for additional functionality, such as the ability to change the font and colors for your website theme, this ‘permalink’ feature is unavailable for .com sites.
The only option? Go with a WordPress.ORG website, and you’ll be able to change your permalink structure.
And, so, with the help of our huge supporter Steve Anthony, a musician who has been working with computers and computer programs for 20 years – we had our WordPress.org site. We spent three hours researching and comparing host sites, looking at user reviews, and cost. We finally chose the host site SiteGround.com, installed WordPress.org – made a mistake, received help from SiteGround – reinstalled – and we changed the post permalink structure.
And, as you can see from these screenshots of our new WordPress.org interface, it was pretty easy to change Permalink settings.
We simply went to my wp-admin interface, as any WordPress.com or .org user would do to make website changes, and we hovered my cursor over the word ‘Settings.’ A menu pops-out, and we see the option ‘Permalinks’ appear.
I click that option, and I’m taken to a page on which I can change my permalink structure – the way a permalink appears when posted. Then, I hit ‘Save Changes.’
And that was it. Three clicks.
Yes, we spent about 6 hours between research, purchasing a site host, and installation – in order to make three clicks, and change our website permalink structure...
You can check out this link ‘SEO Friendly Permalink Structure For WordPress‘ to see the ‘custom structure’ options similar to %postname%, which will allow you to get your desired permalink structure.
Note that our chosen, customized permalink structure omits the date, but the date listed directly in post is unaffected.
You can also read this “help” forum post full of really sassy people explaining why the lack of permalink options makes things ‘simpler and easier’ for .com users – you know, in an attempt to keep people ignorant rather than teach people how to use tools with which they should be provided.
This is definitely a feature that should be on both WordPress.com and WordPress.org. This is, in fact, a feature that all Tumblr.com users can utilize for free on any Tumblr website. We're not sure why this is such a challenge for WordPress.com to figure out – but it’s a pretty basic thing that should be included on all sites.