A permalink is a URL where a specific web page or piece of content can be found after it is no longer featured on the main page of a website.
A permalink, short for permanent link, is the URL where a web page is located permanently.
Websites such as blogs and forums are constantly updated, and the content shown on the front page changes all the time. As a result, if you visit a blog and see an article you want to revisit at a later date, it’s important to bookmark the permalink and not the website homepage. If you do bookmark the homepage, the next time you visit the site you will be greeted by new content, and may have a hard time locating the content you had initially intended to bookmark.
At one point in time, all links on the web were permanent links, since the contents of every web page were static. However, as more and more websites consist of dynamically-generated content, permalinks are an important way of organizing content in a way that makes it easy to find in the future.
Permalinks are useful for several purposes:
- Hyperlinking: Permalinks should always be used when creating a hyperlink. If a permalink is not used, it’s possible that the content may change and the link may not point at relevant content.
- Bookmarking: When creating bookmarks, it’s important that the bookmark point at a permalink. If the bookmark points at a dynamically updated page the content of the bookmarked page will change over time.
- Search engine optimization: Because the content of a page located at a permalink is typically static, permalinks often perform better in search engines. Many companies with popular blogs have found that the permalink pages from their most popular blog posts draw in the majority of their website’s total traffic.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if I’m looking at a permalink or a page that will update with new content?
If the page you are viewing contains multiple articles or pieces of content it is most likely a dynamically-generated page that is updated regularly. On the other hand, if the page you are viewing is composed primarily of a single article or piece of content, then you are probably viewing a permalink.
Dynamically updated pages tend to reside on a website’s homepage, and on other major pages. For example, the following addresses would typically point at dynamically generated pages and not to permalinks:
- http://example.com – A website homepage often contains dynamically-generated content.
- http://example.com/blog/ or http://blog.example.com – A blog page generally shows the most recent posts. As new posts are added, older posts are moved off of the blog page.
- http://example.com/popular/ or http://example.com/category/red/ – Pages made of lists that change over time are typically updated dynamically, and category pages generally only include the most recent posts for that category. Both list and category pages are examples of pages that are dynamically updated.
Permalinks are usually (but not always) much more specific than dynamically updated links. For example, a permalink for a blog post might look something like this: http://example.com/blog/2015/12/what-are-permalinks/.
Where did permalinks come from?
The earliest documented use of the term permalink as a way to describe the permanent URL assigned to a piece of content occurred in 2000. At the time, Blogger was a popular blogging platform. A few of the founders and developers involved in Blogger were discussing the need to have a permalink type of feature. Unbeknownst to the others, one of the developers in the group had already created a way to make permalinks in Blogger, and shared his method for creating permalinks in a blog post on March 6, 2000.