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The default is singular, e.g.

http://example.com/category/apple/

But I am wondering if it is better to use the plural form, e.g.

http://example.com/categories/apple/

Are there any guideline on this?

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There is no matter what you use, you can change it on WP admin yourwebsite.com/wp-admin/options-permalink.php you can change category name to whatever you want. If you like categories than use it. –  Tommixoft May 28 '12 at 7:17
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@Tommix: Please add that as an answer, I think it's a very valid one. –  hakre May 31 '12 at 18:11
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2 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted
+25

There's a simple rule that I follow (it's hard to explain, so I'll give examples):

  • http://example.com/categories/ <-- This plural form should mean that the page shows a list of all the categories in use on your site.

    Similarly, if it's "authors" (as in http://example.com/authors/), I'd expect the page to show a list (with or without descriptions — is your choice) of authors.

  • Simply put, you can't use "category" (as in http://example.com/category/) and list all the categories under it. Kinda sounds meaningless, right? The point is, you never know when you'd have to create a listing as such => it's always best to leave out "plural" words for unless you have a specific/definite purpose (which makes sense).

  • Also, people expect a URL to be a precise description of the page. For example, in my own case, when the title of an article in Google isn't descriptive enough, I look at the URL of the article to see if it's even close to what I am searching for. Just saying.

    Simply compare http://example.com/category/technology/ versus http://example.com/categories/technology/

    • http://example.com/category/technology/ tells me that I am going to the technology category on example.com

    • If I see http://example.com/categories/technology/ my brain needs to think a little bit, and it will of course (in most cases), come to understand it like this — I am going to a page about technology which is one of the categories on example.com)

  • Sometimes, URLs are structured to show content hierarchy. Take a look at this site's URL structure, for example (Notice it? Yeah, "questions".): http://wordpress.stackexchange.com/questions/53474/permalink-format-singular-or-plural

    http://wordpress.stackexchange.com/questions/ takes you to a list of all the questions on WP.SE [1]. 53474 is the post ID. That's it these are the essential parts as far as the system is concerned. The descriptive part of the URL, i.e. permalink-format-singular-or-plural is meant for search engines, and the visitors coming from search engines (AFAIK).

    The content hierarchy here? Home > Questions > Post (or say, Question) —- this made more sense to the people who built the Stack Exchange network, and so, they went ahead it.

    • The point should be clear by now — whatever you use in your URL, people can absolutely relate to it. There's no way it's NOT going to make sense at all. The point is, do you want to make easier on the brains of your readers/visitors? Then use the form of word (singular/plural) that makes more sense — precisely, in your case, the singular word makes sense => http://example.com/category/apple/

[1]: WP.SE => WordPress.StackExchange.com

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There are two reasons to keep the singular:

  1. It is a common practice to use the singular. Don't break it unless you want to make it hard to remember your permalinks. Your readers are on other sites 99% of their time, they shouldn't have to learn something without a really good reward.

  2. Plural forms are harder to translate. When I create custom taxonomies or post types I make the slugs translatable too. Singular forms are usually easier to translate, that may have been the origin for this practice.

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+1. Besides, using the singular is simply more semantic. The URL does not lead to a resource that displays the archive index page for multiple categories, but rather the archive index page for a single category. –  Chip Bennett May 31 '12 at 18:17
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But I understand the askers point: If you go up one URL part to example.com/category/ you expect a list of all categories (plural), and then category looks wrong. –  toscho May 31 '12 at 18:30
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But you'll never get that. /category/ is a virtual URL construct. WordPress doesn't serve an actual page for example.com/category/. –  Chip Bennett May 31 '12 at 20:01
    
@ChipBennett URL shortening is is not so uncommon. Some browser even offer a shortcut for that. I consider WordPress’ default behavior a bug. –  toscho May 31 '12 at 20:04
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