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Which is The Best WordPress Permalink Structure for SEO?

Which is The Best WordPress Permalink Structure for SEO?

When ever we talk about SEO of any site, permalink plays major role in overall optimization. A permalink is Permanent link of your page and posts and it doesn’t change with time. By default WordPress offer permalink like this:

http://www.shoutmeloud.com/?p=123

Which is not search engine friendly and most of newbie bloggers who just started with WordPress, they miss out optimizing WordPress permalink for SEO. In this guide, I will be talking about which permalink structure is the best and will also look into other suggested WordPress permalink structure and why you should avoid them.

WordPress Permalink Structure for SEO

Which Permalink Structure is recommended for SEO?

One of the major On page SEO factor is having your Keyword in your post URL (Permalink). Default WordPress permalink is non SEO friendly and when you Install WordPress for the first time and start blogging without making any change, you are blogging with a non SEO friendly permalink structure. I have already mentioned in my WordPress essential settings guide, that permalink is the first thing you should change while setting up your blog for the first time.

WordPress Permalink SEO

You can find various Permalink settings under WordPress dashboard > Settings > Permalink and few suggested permalink structures are:

  • Domain.com/Category/Post-name
  • Domain.com/Postname (/%postname%/)
  • Domain.com/postname/numeric-ID

Out of all my favorite and suggested permalink structure for WordPress blog is: Post Name .  Post name permalink is short, sweet and has nothing extra which will affect your On page SEO score. Many Bloggers recommend using Category in permalink which is also good only when your Category name is short and meaningful and you are not using multiple categories/post. Though, I’m not a big fan of using category in Permalink structure, as depending upon your indexing settings, it may lead to duplicate content on WordPress blog.

Another Permalink which I highly recommend to avoid is: Using dates in your Permalink. This takes away your capability of republishing your post at later age. As Permalink remains the same, but when you republish post, it makes it look bad as you will still be using old date in permalink.

You can read more about it on : Why changing permalink after post publishing is a bad idea.

WordPress Permalink for Google News:

If you are running a news based site for example current affairs, Bollywood news, Technology news kind of site, you need to have 3 digit unique ID in your permalink as mentioned in Google news submission requirement.

/%postname%-%post_id%/

Some time back Matt Cutts, Google Engineer also changed his WordPress blog permalink structure to domain.com/post-name and here is an explanation from him:

Though he didn’t mentioned any thing directly about SEO benefits of using simple WordPress permalink, but he did mentioned about such permalink helps in keeping thing simple.

Read: How to write SEO optimized article in WordPress

Take away and other Permalink SEO Tips:

  • Use Simple permalink (domain.com/postname)
  • Prefer dashes over underscore (Source)
  • Remove stop words from permalink like (Is, are)
  • Never change Permalink after publishing & if you do, setup a 301 redirection from old to new URL using .htaccess
  • Use your Keyword in Permalink

Couple of months back I changed permalink structure of an existing site and make sure it was 301 redirection, but somehow after changing permalink structure affected my site traffic. So, if you have a huge site, I recommend you to avoid changing permalink until it’s unavoidable. You can refer to this guide, where I mentioned how I changed permalink structure for an existing site.

Another big debate on Permalink is using : www or non www in the URL of your domain. Earlier, I used to prefer www in my permalinks, but since world is going to short and simple version, I prefer using non www in my site name. It gives you more space in permalink and as you know, search engine index only 66 characters from your Permalink.  If you choose non www version of domain structure, make sure www version of your site is properly redirected to non www version to avoid WordPress duplicate issue.

Ex: http://www.wphostingdiscount.com —- >> http://wphostingdiscount.com

I also recommend you to set your preferred domain from Webmaster tool. You can learn more about it on my earlier article on: Google Webmaster tool Preferred domain setting.

From now on, when ever you are setting up a new WordPress blog, make sure you use a SEO friendly WordPress permalink structure than any random permalink. If you have any query regarding WordPress permalinks, do let me know via comment.

If you enjoyed reading this article, feel free to share it on Facebook and Google plus and don’t forget to check my WordPress guide for more such tips.

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Article by Harsh Agrawal

Harsh has written 1058 articles.

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{ 30 comments… add one }

  • Karan Bhagat

    Hey Harsh
    What if we add .html after %postname% like /%postname%.html ?
    Will it add any extra benefit or will it harm the ranking ?

    Reply
  • vikas yadav

    sir is there any way to change permalink of a previous written post ??
    because when I am trying to change it,changes are not taking place,please guide me

    Reply
  • chevy

    I strongly believe that post type is the best practice for proper SEO Optimization. I have being using it alot and i have seen improvement in search engine prior to the keywords being targeted ..Thanks for this elegant article.!

    Reply
  • Reginald

    Hi Harsh,

    Excellent post! For me, it would always be %postname%. I been using this same format for a long time and seems pretty cool. Moreover, it makes the link look shorter (without the category).

    Thanks for sharing mate~

    Reginald.

    Reply
  • yash

    Hi Harsh, nice post, saved a lot of time. Just want to know about the non www and www version. I am quite confused at that. If suppose I need non www version, how exactly can I redirect my www version to non www version. Can you send me the link to the tutorial for that so explain me the process. Thanks

    Reply
  • Jo Tizen

    Google News and Yahoo I think want to have dates for the permalink… so I think it depends on what do you want to target

    Reply
  • Ankur

    I have been using WordPress for 6 months.. I am using Numeric ID permalinks… Will it affect my SEO in near future? or I should changed it %postname%?

    Must reply… Thanks

    Reply
  • MalwareMan

    has anyone switched from an html site where you go from pages.html to wordpress permalinks? do people typically setup 301 redirects for all their html pages or convert their permalinks to html so there is no need for redirects?

    Reply
  • Newton Adera

    A very great post Harsh.Can making of this permalink works with the low end mobile phones ? All I’ve learned regarding url, is simply copying and pasting an available url.Doing so enables me to post anything via sms ,email,BBO to fb., twitter or elsewhere. I would hope to take a close look on both hyperlinks and permalinks creation.THANKS

    Reply
  • Nizam

    Really awesome and detialed review regarding permalinks. Yes no doubt “post name” permalink is a lot better and easier to remember. Thanks !

    Reply
  • George Lee

    To me using categories is essential for SEO after Google Penguin Update. I would recommend all my fellow bloggers to be careful when creating meta tags and make sure the targeted keyword appears somewhere in the beginning of the permalink as Google now matches title and permalink structure to return a user with relevant results.

    Reply
    • Jupiter Jim

      George Lee, I am going to tend to agree with you. I like the idea of adding categories to the permalink structure especially since I only use ONE category for each post. My categories are keywords like “wordpress-tutorials” and “thesis-tutorials” so I would tend to think that would help my SEO when my site is crawled.

      P.S. Harsh, great article, and excellent resources especially the video of Matt Cutts!

      Reply
  • Techgravy

    I found that all Facebook share link will become error 404 after change permalink link, seem nothing can do of this.

    Reply
  • Arun rana

    Hi Harsh , I heard some where that google loves .html pages , should we use /%postname%.html or only postname ??

    Reply
  • Asif

    I also believe that %postname% is the best permalink structure you can go for, I have used it on 20+ blogs. :-)

    Reply
  • Technikant

    but i have migrated my blog from blogger – so my permalink structure is /%year%/%monthnum%/%postname%.html any solutions ?

    Reply
  • Irfan Siddiqui

    I’m using %postname% in my blog’s URL since I have read it’s benefit in your blog’s articles. My blog’s success credit goes & only goes to SML.

    Reply
  • ved prakash joshi

    why post id and why not date for news website

    Reply
    • Harsh Agrawal

      @Ved Refer to first comment and you will realize why dates are not suggested.

      Reply
  • Sunith babu

    Hi,

    Looks interesting to me, however, I’ve been running a blog since 2007 and have the permalink in the form of / YEAR/MONTH/POST NAME, changing to only /POST NAME will it affect the SEO of my Blog ?

    What will happen to the earlier links indexed in google and will I need to rework on my sitemap.xml files and on my webmaster ?

    Thanks
    Sunith

    Reply
    • Harsh Agrawal

      @Sunith
      You need to implement 301 redirection for all such old links..!!
      Yes, SEO will be affected a little, atleast I have noticed it in my case…

      You don’t have to worry much about sitemap..You can simply regenerate sitemap and submit it..!!
      Also use broken link checker plugin and fix the redirection of interlinked post..
      You can refer to this guide: http://wpfreesetup.com/86/how-to-change-wordpress-permalink-with-301-perma-redirection/
      Also make sure to take a database backup before making this change.

      Reply
  • Vignat Vora

    %postname% is the best permalink structure. Earlier I used to prefer %postname%.html, but , the former one is shorter.

    Reply
  • prabir

    Good advice on using permalink , I have used .html the end of %postname% so it look like a simple html file , I had some old pages but didn’t change the .htacces file for redirect instead i Used redirect plugin for implementing 301 redirection to new pages. Its very easy when you have large number of pages to be redirected.

    Reply
    • Harsh Agrawal

      @Prabir
      I tried redirection plugin almost year back and it’s powerful and does the job pretty well.. Though the only reason I prefer .htaccess method coz, redirection plugin increases the size of database by a lot..
      You can check that and confirm me for the same by using wp db manager plugin… Hope they have made some changes now.!!

      Reply
  • Rahul Tilloo

    I also use %postname% in the url structure. Its not only good for SEO but also makes us easy to remember the url.

    Reply
  • Alan Tay

    I agree as well on using the Postname as the permalink. In my experience with reading content that has permalinks with date is that if the content is published about 2 years back, I will not completely take the advice from the post simply because I believe there is a better and newer content out there. As a result, keeping the date away is a good way to give reader the impression that the post is not outdated. After all, there are posts that hardly gets outdated such as Tutorials, How to and fundamental tips.

    Reply
    • Harsh Agrawal

      @Alan I agree with your statement on using dates..As it outdate content even after a month…It’s same as showing date’s in SERP’s …When your evergreen content is outdated because of presence of dates…

      Reply

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