As long as web administrators have been using dynamic content management systems (CMS) to power their websites, they have been looking for ways to make better looking URLs. They are often called “search engine friendly” URLs, but in most cases, they are designed to be more human friendly as well.
A standard dynamic URL from a server-side scripting language such as PHP may look like: website-name.com/index.php?category=name&2348234-this-one-27343. It is unwieldy and very difficult to use. Using technology like Apache’s mod_rewrite module, your blog can have a URL that looks more like website-name.com/category/name-this-one. This has become very easy to accomplish, especially with blogging platforms like WordPress.
In order to effectively use this technology, you need to make sure that your website has mod_rewrite enabled. If you are looking to sign up for a new hosting account, you should investigate carefully and find a hosting provider that has experience with blog hosting and that has mod_rewrite and other important features like it enabled by default.
WordPress has the following requirements for “pretty” permalinks or search engine friendly URLs:
- Apache web server with mod_rewrite module installed
- FollowSymLinks enabled (usually possible through .htaccess files)
- FileInfo directives allowed
- Use of an .htaccess file (This should be possible if the web server has the “AllowOverride” option enabled)
- Allow WordPress to have write access to the file so that you can modify it from within the Dashboard
A blog-friendly web host will already have these features ready to go for you, and setting up permalinks should happen rather seamlessly.