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WP SEO Tips: Structured Permalinks

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February 19th, 2007
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WordPress Tips

Permalinks are an important key for search engine optimization. Bots such as Googlebot have gotten a lot smarter where they can index links even if they’re using a query, such as example.com/?p=535, but that’s not search engine friendly at all.

There are really two angles you can look at when setting up your permalinks.

The first angle to look at it is from the Bot’s point of view (“POV”). The bot is looking at the permalink and it first tries to recognize what that page is about by what the permalink says. If a permalink just has domain.com/article/798724, the bot knows that it’s an article and…well, that’s about it really.

But let’s say that you had something like what WLTC uses here: http://weblogtoolsc…gle-subscribers/. The bot knows that it’s about feedburner, google, subscribers, and that it’s an archived page on that site. Not to forget it also knows the date of the page that it was published — based on trusting the site.

The primary difference from the bot POV is that the more information you give it, the better.

At the same time, it’s really good to give a lot of information, but it’s also good to not overwhelm the bots. The default WordPress permalinks using the domain.com/?p=#### is not very search engine friendly (“SEF”) so that’s why almost all — most — sites will use the mod_rewrite to fix that.

The second angle is to look at it from a human’s POV but also keeping the bot in mind. I did that with my site and I found a happy medium. I went ahead and varied the permalink structure a little bit. I went with a year, article number, and article name — rather than the default year/month/day/article-name. I wanted to give my permalinks a better human readability but also provide the bots a functional permalink to know what the page is about.

As a concluding note, there are hundreds of trusted sites that don’t need to use this because of how well ranked they already are. Such sites include News.com, Time.com, there’s really an endless list, but for smaller sites such as blogs that on average won’t be as highly ranked (unless you’re Photomatt), the small things such as these changes can really help in the search engine result pages (“SERPs”).

But really, lastly, this is the BIGGEST FACTOR I can ever tell anyone.

Cool URIs don’t change.

Once you create a permalink, don’t change it, please. Cool links don’t change…ever. I mean it, don’t change it…please, it will create a more tranquil Internet for everyone.

http://www.w3.org/Provider/Style/URI

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Comments

  1. Wayde Christie (3 comments.) says:

    Great article.

    I’m keen to know what plugin this site uses to concatenate long links?

    Cheers!

  2. Santosh GS (2 comments.) says:

    ^ Plugin ?! It can be found in the wp-admin/options-permalink.php of your blog!

  3. Ashish Mohta (19 comments.) says:

    Thats really a great set of tips!!

  4. Aja Lapus (4 comments.) says:

    @Santosh GS: Maybe he’s talking about the link with “weblogtoolsc…gle-subscribers” that I’d like to know how to automatically do too—if I am right that he means to concatenate the beginning and the end of long links to form shorter ones. :)

  5. Santosh GS (2 comments.) says:

    Oopps.. you mean something like this plugin ?

  6. Jonathan (83 comments.) says:

    Santosh: I had to shorten it because it was too long for the line in the actual post. If I could, I would have spread the whole thing out in the article.

  7. Keith (6 comments.) says:

    Another suggestion. This isn’t really much of SEO. Besides having permanlinks, you can also include a .html at the end of the permalinks, so that each post looks like a static page.

  8. jazzle (2 comments.) says:

    @Jonathan: …com/year/month/day/… isn’t difficult for humans – in fact it’s really useful. Using Firefox (and a plugin) I can middle click the reload button* to go up a level and see the archive for that day, month, or year. *- or any of various other browsers with this functionality.

    @Keith: Search Engines aren’t that stupid. Think about it, there are many URLs which don’t end with .html (or any other extension) – directory indexes…

  9. Jeff Kee (1 comments.) says:

    I wrote a blog post on WOrdpress and SEO a few days ago as well and I pitched this point – always use the permalink structure to include the date/title… also note you can customize the post slug (the URL title) too, so that even if your title is a catch/obscure one that hides the keywords, you can still include the keywords in the URL anyhow!!!!

    i.e. “Greatest Blogging Secret!!!” could be the title but you are talking about a plugin that helps promote blog traffic. the slug should be “wordpress-blog-plugin-to-increase-traffic”.

  10. Jonathan (83 comments.) says:

    Jazzle: I never said that structure was difficult for humans to read, but shorter will always be better for humans.

  11. Jeff Mills (1 comments.) says:

    It took me a while to come to a correct permalink structure and I was first devestated I was using the /P=12 style when I first built my blog.

    Once I learned the permalink customization, combines with plugins for making my post titles more SEO friendly, then it was a home run and now google spiders my posts daily.

  12. Lucas McDonnell (3 comments.) says:

    If you do need to change your permalink structure after going with one that didn’t work for you (I changed mine from date-based archives to just the post name), I would highly suggest this permalink updating plugin: http://www.deanlee.cn/wordpres.....on-plugin/.

    You just enter your old permalink structure, and it automatically redirects to the correct new permalink. No messing around with redirects.

  13. azrin (11 comments.) says:

    Using Permalinks won’t help much too.
    Look at the head tag , a Description , Keyword and Abstract is just as important to rate yr site. An ACRA will get it further.

    I use like http://www.azrin.net/yikes which looks like a static page *(%postname%) as that carry a higher ranking. Also a MetaTag for the individual post also carry more marks as the engine will see what your relevancy tags in relation to the url and content.

    That’s my 2c worth, and if you are porting over, don’t be lazy and just port by SQL, switch yr Technorati and ping tools on , and manually insert each and every one of them. After that, you can back date them. Seems that the spiders love you for posting 300+++ posts at a short. Time consuming….but it works!*(or use a RPC TOOL)

  14. Joneh (1 comments.) says:

    Hmm, interesting to know all these. Mine just the normal year,month,day link to my post. totally newbie ere. ;)

  15. Jason (75 comments.) says:

    Great article.
    I agree with Lucas about using the permalink redirect plugin for anyone that’s used the default link structure (or any different structure) for any amount of time. Potential readers really don’t like 404’s. :P

  16. Jonathan (83 comments.) says:

    Azrin: Thanks for the tip, that SEO tip will be part of a future article I write. I will incorporate much more than just those couple things though. Don’t jump the gun on me! :)

  17. Wayde Christie (3 comments.) says:

    @Aja Lapus – you were right :)

    @Santosh GS – Thanks for the heads up!

  18. Andy Beard (25 comments.) says:

    Denis at Semiologic normally suggests including date or post number in any permalink otherwise it can cause performance issue

  19. Néstor (1 comments.) says:

    thanks for the tips!

  20. Jonathan (83 comments.) says:

    Andy: Performance issues with WordPress? I haven’t heard of that ever being an issue, but I’ll run it by the developers to see if that’s true or not.

  21. Andy Beard (25 comments.) says:

    I have seen him mention it a number of times on his forum and elsewhere

    Here is just one thread example I found doing a search

    http://forum.semiologic.com/di.....s-for-seo/

  22. J-Bo (1 comments.) says:

    Great article, raises a very usefull point!
    Dugg.

  23. sohbet (1 comments.) says:

    I agree about using the permalink redirect plugin for anyone that’s used the default link structure (or any different structure) for any amount of time. Potential readers really don’t like 404’s

  24. Adeq says:

    Kewl :)

  25. Adriena says:

    Nice..nice post.



Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] One of the most important things that needs to be done is to change the permalink structure of the blog to some much more natural than what comes pre-configured in WordPress. It is very easy to change and only takes a second. By changing the permalink structure to include the actual postname in the URL, it will be indexed much cleaner in the search engines, and will be indexed with the post title as the page title. Jonathan at Weblog Tools Collection has a great writeup this exact topic. […]

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  4. […] One of the most important things that needs to be done is to change the permalink structure of the blog to some much more natural than what comes pre-configured in WordPress. It is very easy to change and only takes a second. By changing the permalink structure to include the actual postname in the URL, it will be indexed much cleaner in the search engines, and will be indexed with the post title as the page title. Jonathan at Weblog Tools Collection has a great writeup this exact topic. […]

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