Perfect Permalinks For WordPress SEO

What’s a Permalink?

For those who don’t know what a permalink is, they are WordPress’ (optional) system for configuring how it creates URLs for your pages, posts and other content. If you have ever seen a WordPress blog with URLs like http://example.org/?p=123 it was because they had not configured their permalinks. URLs are a critically important on-page factor for SEO so if you care about traffic you really want to get this one right!

I’m in a Hurry and Don’t Care About the Theory… Just Tell Me What To Do!

Perfect Permalinks

It is rare that I see a SEO topic covered so well that I have nothing to add, but this is one of them. Yoast’s post on WordPress SEO URL / Permalinks considerations is pure gold.

Here’s a few of the topics he covers…

  1. What is the perfect permalink structure?
  2. Should you use categories in your permalinks?
  3. Which file extensions in your permalinks can kill your traffic.
  4. How to create Google News URLs without the annoying numbers at the end.
  5. What matters about using keywords in your URL.

This is a great post with several videos from Matt Cutts (Google Spokesman on such things) to back up Yoast’s advice.

Oops, I Lied

I guess I do have one thing to add… On the issue of using categories in your permalinks or not I’m firmly on the side of… not.

My first reason is the confusion caused by being able to post a URL in more than one category. If the category is part of the URL then what is the correct URL? Confusion is almost never good.

The second reason is one of flexibility. I can’t count the number of times I have decided that my categories needed to be rearranged years after a site was launched. If you use the category in the URL then you will need to setup 301 redirects for all of the old URLs which is a performance issue, loses a small bit of link juice, and is a pain in the rear.

Third… it makes for shorter URLs which are just as understandable and that’s pretty much always a good thing.

Reason four isn’t really a reason, it’s a clue. Look at Yoast’s site and see what permalink structure he’s using. Yep, there’s no category there. If it’s good enough for Yoast it’s almost certainly good enough for you and me :)

I’m in a Hurry and Don’t Care About the Theory… Just Tell Me What To Do!

Okay, okay. Use a custom permalink setting of:

/%postname%/

If you are using a recent version of WordPress it will look like:

There you have it… perfect permalinks and the thinking behind them. Let me know if you have any questions, comments, or you just plain want to argue about them in a comment below.

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