SEO Checklist: Optimizing Your WordPress Permalinks

by Paul Wilson

 

blogging-consultant_02-09-2009One thing that makes WordPress such a great SEO tool is its permalinks. Instead of having dynamic urls that look like they are cursing at you (?%$!), wordpress allows you to create SEO friendly urls found in the settings section. You have several options on how to structure your permalinks, and depending on what you want will ultimately be the deciding factor on how you should do it. Here are some recommendations:

  1. /%postname%/ – There are several benefits in having your permalinks like this. First, your link doesn’t look dated when google indexes your page. When your post pulls up in the search engines people won’t be deterred from clicking on it because of the date in the url. The second nice thing about this permalink structure is that if you write good titles you can increase your clicks as well. This is how I have done my permalinks for years. It has only been recently that I have switched over to the next possible permalink structure.
  2. /%category%/%postname%/ – I switched to this style of permalinks after reading yoast.com’s WordPress SEO. Using this structure helps me focus on both the search engines and conversion. I am a big proponent of keyword categories. Having keyword categories helps you feed the search bots sections of your website that heavily focus on your keywords. By focusing your url around a category and post title you gain a lot benefits. First, you are able to have your keyword in the url without necessarily having it in your blog post title (though, I would recommend having it there as well). If you feel that your post title will convert better in the search engines worded a unique way, you are not hindered to also include the keyword in the title. If you select your post to be in a keyword category the url will reflect that selection. Secondly, adding categories to your permalink gives just one more place to optimize your keywords. You can have the plural form of a keyword in your category and the singular form in your post title—allowing you to rank on both forms of the keyword.
  3. /%year%/%monthnum%/%category%/%postname%/ – The only reason I would advocate this structure is if you are trying to get your posts into Google News. Since google’s mistake of listing an out dated article on United Airlines bankruptcy having the dates in the url have increased in importance. As mentioned in the first permalink structure you increase the chance of people clicking on an older post. However, receiving Google News traffic may outweigh this set back.

Note: All three of these structures must be used in the custom setting in the Permalink section. Just simply copy and paste the structure you prefer and you should be ready to go

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