When considering important aspects of the SEO of any site, the permalink plays a major role in overall optimization. A permalink is a permanent link of your page and posts, and it doesn’t change with time. By default, WordPress offers permalinks like this:
This type of permalink is not search engine friendly, so most newbie bloggers just starting with WordPress fail to create a site that is optimizing WordPress permalinks for SEO because they are using the default permalinks.
In this guide, I will teach you which permalink structure is the best, and I will also look into other suggested WordPress permalink structures and why you should avoid them.
Which permalink structure is recommended for optimal SEO?
One of the major on-page SEO factors is having your keyword in your post URL (permalink). As I’ve just discussed, the default WordPress permalink is not SEO-friendly, so when you install WordPress for the first time and start blogging without making a change to that default, you are blogging with a permalink structure that is not SEO friendly.
As previously mentioned in my WordPress essential settings guide, your permalink is the first thing you should change when setting up your blog for the first time.
You can find various permalink settings under WordPress dashboard > Settings > Permalink. A few suggested permalink structures are:
- Domain.com/Postname (/%postname%/)
My favorite and suggested permalink structure for a WordPress blog is Post Name. Post name permalinks are short, sweet and have nothing extra which will affect your on- page SEO score.
Many bloggers recommend using Category in a permalink which is also fine, but only when your category name is short and meaningful, and you are not using multiple categories/posts. I’m not a big fan of using Category in permalink structure, because depending on your indexing settings, it may lead to duplicate content on your WordPress blog.
Another permalink method which I highly recommend avoiding is that of using dates in your permalink. This takes away your capability of republishing your post at later date. The permalink remains the same, but when you republish the post, it does not make sense because you will still be using the old date in the permalink.
WordPress Permalink for Google News:
If you are running a news-based site such as a site having a focus on current affairs, Bollywood or Hollywood news, technology news, etc., you need to have a three-digit unique ID in your permalink as mentioned in the Google news submission requirement.
Some time back, Matt Cutts, a Google engineer also changed his WordPress blog permalink structure to domain.com/post-name and here is an explanation from him:
He didn’t mention anything directly related to the SEO benefits of using a simple WordPress permalink, but he did mention the fact that such a permalink helps to keep things simple.
Take-away and other permalink SEO tips:
- Use simple permalinks (domain.com/postname)
- Prefer dashes over underscores (Source)
- Remove stop words from permalinks (such as “is” or “are)
- Never change permalinks after publishing, and if you do so for some reason set up a 301 redirection from the old URL to the new URL using .htaccess
- Use your keyword in your permalink
A couple of months back I changed the permalink structure of an existing site and made sure it was a 301 redirection, but somehow after changing the permalink structure my site traffic was affected. So, if you have a huge site I recommend that you avoid changing your permalinks unless it is completely unavoidable.
You can refer to this guide for a discussion of how I changed the permalink structure for an existing site.
Another big debate regarding permalinks is using : www or non- www in the URL of your domain.
I used to prefer www in my permalinks, but since the rest of the world is going to the short and simple version, I prefer using non- www in my site name (meaning I simply do not use the “www” portion of the former URL). This gives you more space in the permalink, and with search engine indices only allowing 66 characters in a permalink, the three fewer characters can be helpful as well.
If you choose the non-www version of domain structure, make sure the www version of your site is properly redirected to the non-www version to avoid a WordPress duplicate issue.
Example: http://www.wphostingdiscount.com —- >> http://wphostingdiscount.com
I also recommend that you set your preferred domain from your Webmaster tool. You can learn more about this in my previous post on: Google Webmaster tool preferred domain settings.
From now on, whenever you are setting up a new WordPress blog, make sure you use an SEO-friendly WordPress permalink structure rather than any random permalink.
If you have any questions regarding WordPress permalinks, let us know via the comments section below.
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