Search Engine Friendly (SEF) URLs with WordPress

WordPress is state-of-the-art publishing platform with a focus on aesthetics, web standards and usability. No surprise it supports SE-friendly URLs. This short article describes how to setup WordPress for usage with ISAPI_Rewrite 3.
In this article we suppose you already have IIS and ISAPI_Rewrite 3 installed. To write the article we used ISAPI_Rewrite and WordPress 2.6.2.

Getting and Installing WordPress

You can download WordPress from this web page:

Please don’t use versions lower than 2.6.1, because they will not work properly with ISAPI_Rewrite 3.

After downloading please install WordPress according to the installation instructions by the vendor. Note that in the installation wizard you may allow your blog to appear in search engines. This action enables indexing and will probably be important for you.

Picture 1. Enable indexing.

Enabling SE-friendly URLs

By default SE-friendly URLs are disabled. To enable this feature please go to WordPress administration panel. On the main page of administration panel please select “Settings” tab:

Picture 2. “Settings” tab.

Now please select “Permalinks” tab. On the opened page you can see some default schemes of prettifying your URLs.

Picture 3. “Permalinks” tab.

You may choose necessary scheme but notice that WordPress doesn’t use .htaccess file and ISAPI_Rewrite to process these permalinks. You will need to write your own rules.

Writing rules for .htaccess

Let’s write some simple rules for WordPress using ISAPI_Rewrite. Open “Permalinks” configuration as described above. Select “Custom Structure” radio box, and in adjacent field write /%post_id%/%postname% as shown on this picture:

Picture 4. “Custom Structure” field.

Please save changes. %post_id% and %postname% are special tag names. You can read more about tags here: So we have configuration for URLs like, and now we need to write some rules in .htaccess file. Please create .htaccess file in the root folder of WordPress and write the following code into it:

RewriteBase / 
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f 
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d 
RewriteRule ^(\d+)/[^/]+/?$ index.php?p=$1 [NC,L]

These rules rewrite requests like /1/my-great-post to those like index.php?p=1, but only if no such physical file of folder exist.
Done! Now you can use your WordPress blog with pretty URLs!

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